Predictably, America’s second Thanksgiving under Donald Trump was a theatre of the absurd.
Speaking to reporters from Mar-a-Lago or, as the President calls it, “the Southern White House”, Trump launched into a story about spontaneous “fist fights in Tijuana” where, according to him, “tough people” are challenging the locals to bare-knuckle boxing matches “in the streets” for no discernible reason.
To be clear, there is an influx of migrants to Tijuana, and by some accounts, that influx has reached crisis proportions. But Trump’s characterization of who’s there differs markedly from other assessments. “Many of those people are criminals”, Trump said on Thursday, adding that they (the “criminals”) have “been so adjudged.”
“We know who they are”, he continued, before claiming that many of the migrants have “substantial criminal records.”
AFP paints a somewhat different picture in an article dated Wednesday. Here are a couple of quick excerpts:
They’re not just migrants, they’re builders, cooks, painters and seamstresses: the caravan of Central Americans gathering at the US border boasts an attractive workforce and Tijuana, their last stop before California, wants to tap it.
Under a white awning near a packed shelter in a poor neighborhood of commercially bustling Tijuana, hundreds of the migrants line up for a job fair staged just for these determined travelers.
So, depending on who you want to believe, the migrants are criminals (“and have been so adjudged”) who traveled all the way from Honduras to Tijuana in order to start fist fights in the middle of the street, or else are “builders, cooks, painters and seamstresses”.
In the same exchange, Trump said he’s authorized the military to use “lethal force” against the migrants because we’re “dealing with a minimum of 500 serious criminals.” He offered no evidence for that assertion.
And he wasn’t done. “Two days ago, we closed the border, we actually just closed it”, Trump claimed. Here’s the clip which, frankly, is fall-in-the-floor funny.
Pressed for answers on a border shutdown that nobody previously knew about, Trump doubled down, claiming that he signed an executive order after somebody “called him up.” When asked if the American people could get a copy of that order, Trump said – and this is a quote – “ahhh, you don’t need it.”
Trump also spoke to a commander in Afghanistan and that went about like you’d imagine. In one particularly amusing exchange, Trump appeared surprised to learn that there were 10,000 troops in the country, a number he called “beautiful”. He also asked if they were “enjoying what they’re doing.” Oh, and he held the receiver up to his ear even though everyone was on speaker phone.
And Trump still found plenty of time for Twitter.
At 7:01 in the morning, he kicked things off by shrieking “HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO ALL!” and then, precisely 20 minutes later, he renewed his war of words with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
“Justice Roberts can say what he wants, but the 9th Circuit is a complete and total disaster”, Trump said, before castigating it as “out of control” and claiming that if it’s not reined in, “there will be only bedlam, chaos, injury and death.”
How’s that for hyperbole?
He also followed up on his Wednesday evening contention that because it’s cold, global warming isn’t real. “This is the coldest weather in the history of the Thanksgiving Day Parade in NYC, and one of the coldest Thanksgivings on record!”, the President exclaimed, at 4:26 PM.
Finally, just after 6:00 PM on the east coast, Trump again took aim at the judiciary, blaming the 9th Circuit for endangering America’s “highly trained security professionals”.
Never a dull moment, that’s for sure.