It goes without saying that one of the tragedies of 2017 was the relegation of reality to the backburner of public discourse.
I’m not much on the notion that there is an objective distinction between “right” and “wrong” (“right” and “wrong” are almost always subjective). On a personal note, I once publicly castigated a former friend’s modus operandi as “wrong.” I actually regret that characterization because again, there are relatively few instances where something can fairly be described as hands-down “wrong” and that wasn’t one of them.
But while “right” and “wrong” are generally subjective, there is an objective distinction between truth and lies. Sure, “spin” is employed gratuitously by the media on both sides and thanks to spin, facts are often presented in a way that betrays the inherent biases of the person presenting them.
That said, before 2017 everyone generally worked from the same set of facts. It was just a matter of how far the right (or the left) would go in the application of spin. When deliberate spin morphs into purposeful deception via misinformation campaigns, that’s when the line has to be drawn.
Well Donald Trump has ushered in what’s come to be known as the post-Truth world where the President of the United States traffics in outright falsehoods – demonstrably inaccurate statements that simply are not “true” in any sense of the word. He doesn’t “spin” things – he employs outright lies in an effort to suspend disbelief and help his followers persist in the “MAGA” fantasy.
To our conservative readers who are still persisting in this fantasy (and that won’t be all of our conservative readers because God knows there are a lot of GOPers who aren’t buying into this anymore), try something new: read the rest of this post and look at the charts.
One of the more egregious lies Trump persists in peddling to his support base is the notion that he’s ushered in an economic renaissance in the United States. It’s unclear whether Trump’s tweets and comments regarding quarterly GDP data are the product of a desire to deceive, an actual inability to understand the data or (far more likely) a bit of both. But whatever the case, it’s working. Here’s an actual reader comment from Friday evening:
2017 growth is better than any of the years Obama had.
This reader is clearly just parroting Trump and in doing so, he/she employs the same obfuscation. That is, by throwing “year” in there, this person has an “out” if you show them the quarterly numbers. But the bottom line never changes. This is the reality:
There is nothing extraordinary about the GDP prints we’ve gotten under Trump. Period. End of story.
In the same vein, Trump continually brags about the jobs market as though it was somehow unhealthy before he ascended to the Oval Office. The jobs market was already overheating when Trump took office. Got that? We were basically at full employment when he was inaugurated. The fact that the labor market has continued to overheat this year has nothing to do with Trump and everything to do with the dynamics that were already in place before he took office. If anything, the monthly jobs reports have been worse under Trump. Here, look:
Moving away from the economy and on to other demonstrable lies, Trump continues to claim that he’s passed more legislation than any modern President. Here’s what he said just this week at a fire station (no less):
We have signed more legislation than anybody. We have more legislation passed, including – the record was Harry Truman a long time ago, and we broke that record, so we got a lot done.
That’s not “spin.” There is no sense in which that is true. In fact, the exact opposite is true. Here’s the chart:
This is why it’s so sad to see uneducated Americans accusing the media, accusing Democrats and accusing establishment Republicans of having “Trump Derangement Syndrome.” He has literally convinced these poor people (and poor can be taken figuratively and literally in this case) that it is everyone else who is delusional when he is in fact saying things that are not only completely false, but are actually as untrue as they could possibly be. He says he “set a record” for legislation, but the reality is that if legislation is how you want to measure success, he is the least successful president in modern U.S. history. Point blank, period. It isn’t debatable. There is no “spin” you can put on it. There are no “alternative facts.” There are just the bills he’s signed into law and the bills previous presidents have singed into law, and his numbers are the lowest.
You’ve probably heard him brag about an upturn in his poll numbers and you might have also seen some bloggers trying to claim that somehow, Trump’s numbers are on par with previous presidents. Well again, that’s just not true. As in: it’s a lie. Here’s the chart on net favorability:
Sure, you can find other polls that will look a bit better than this, but as of Sunday, not a single poll (not one of them) has his net favorability rating in positive territory:
Finally – and we’ve brought this up before, but we’re going to show you the charts again – the way he spins the stock market rally is profoundly misleading. He (and Sarah Huckabee Sanders) continually cite the point total added instead of the percentage gain. That is so obviously absurd that it boggles the mind, but just note that the Dow rose more in the first 11 months of Obama’s presidency than it did during the first 11 months of Trump’s presidency.
Whether or not any of this will matter to his support base (or to him) is debatable.
You’d like to think that after a while, most people will get wise to the charade. But that’s probably wishful thinking…
Note: the first four charts are from the New York Times, but do note that the Times just did the graphics. In the first two charts, the data is from Trump’s own Bureau of Economic Analysis and his own Bureau of Labor Statistics. The third chart is just the number of bills signed. And the fourth chart is based on Gallup data but again, the fifth chart shows you all the available polls.