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THOMPSON: Trump's speech from Oval Office about trumped up crisis

January 14, 2019 - 12:18 PM

OPINION


Last week President Donald Trump spoke from the Oval Office…his first speech to Americans from that very famous place. The Oval Office has been home to some of the world’s most momentous events and decisions.

I have been in the Oval Office a few times and believe me the sense of history is palpable…both good and bad. President Harry S. Truman - sitting in the Oval Office - decided to use atomic weapons on the people of Japan in 1945. President Richard M. Nixon taped his conversations in the Oval Office…tapes that led to his resignation after Watergate. Ronald Reagan - sitting in the Oval Office - negotiated nuclear disarmament with Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev.

No such history was made on Jan. 8, 2019 by President Trump. Indeed, he spoke for just nine minutes about what he called the “crises” on the southern border of the United States. The crises - of both heart and soul - is of his own making…trumped up. Pun intended. His speech had neither the weight of history being made nor much any sense of truth.

Before Trump, presidents addressed Americans from the Oval Office to calm them…Trump used his first and only address to raise the spectre of things that aren’t real. Trump talked about illegal immigration…and the building of a wall or a fence…that Trump swears will solve the problems of crime and drugs and illegal aliens and ultimately determine America’s future. He is wrong…so very wrong.

Most Americans know that he is wrong…some 60 percent believe that any barrier - wall or fence - is sheer folly. That happens when you say there were 17,000 criminals caught at the border last year…and the real number is 42. Or, that 4,000 terrorists came through the Mexican border last year…and the real number is six.

Everyone should understand that Trump’s obsession about building a wall has little to do with an actual wall. History and fact prove that walls aren’t very effective at keeping people in or out. There are always ways to counter physical barriers.

What Trump is all about isn’t really keeping immigrants out…illegal or otherwise. How could he care…illegal immigrants have worked at his resorts and golf courses for years? But during his campaign he promised the great mass of ignorant people he calls his base that he would build a wall…and “Mexico will pay for it.”

There will not be a wall…which makes Mexico paying for it a mute point. What this whole wall compulsion Trump suffers from is about him winning. It doesn’t matter what the issue might be…it’s always about him being perceived as a winner. That’s what losers do, of course. Losers obsess about winning…they will lie, cheat, steal and collude to win.

Donald Trump wants just one thing in life…what he always craved…recognition for winning. Daniel Dale, Washington Bureau Chief for the Toronto Star, counts Trump’s lies at just over 4,000 since he became president. In true Canadian fashion, Dale discounts many of what others - The Washington Post and Politifact - consider lies.

Dale’s tracking of “false claims” on the Toronto Star website includes this disclaimer: “If Trump is a serial liar, why call this a list of “false claims,” not lies?…The short answer is that we can’t be sure that each and every one was intentional. In some cases, he may have been confused or ignorant. What we know, objectively, is that he was not telling the truth.” I must admit, I kind of like that it is a Canadian who is above the fray…and gives the benefit of the doubt to someone so obviously guilty of lying.

Trump is in deep weeds…and he knows that the public…even some who used to support him…now doubt him on almost everything he says. That’s what happens with liars. Trump’s problems are compounded because the new Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, is guilty of both being smarter…and she’s a woman.

He doesn’t respect women…never has. Unfortunately for Trump, Pelosi has proven in the first two meetings in the White House that she is more than a match for his incurious nature and his penchant for playing fast and loose with anything resembling facts.

Trump, of course, brags and lies about stuff that isn’t even important…and he picks the most inappropriate times. Remember Trump standing in from of the wall of those at the Central Intelligence Agency who had died in the line of duty? He picked that opportunity to lie about how many times he had been on the cover of Time magazine…and the crowd size at his inauguration.

And during his first trip to an American combat zone in two years as president over the recent Christmas holiday, he told troops in Iraq that their recent pay raise was his doing…the first pay increase in ten years.

“I got you a big one…I got you a big one,” he exclaimed. Lies…not a big raise and certainly not the first in a decade. He did practically nothing…other than signing a bill that would have passed even over his veto.

But with the current government shutdown a record…a record but not exactly a win for Trump…more and more cracks are starting to show. Anyone who watched the nine minutes in the Oval Office last week not only heard the lies…they could see his low-energy performance…a signal of just how bad things are getting for this imitation of a president…even in his mind.

The Oval Office has witnessed much history over the years. But last Tuesday it was the setting not for a shot heard ‘round the world, but more a shot heard ‘round the immediate vicinity.

Most Americans were no doubt shaking their heads in disbelief…and a lot Mexicans were laughing.

— Don Thompson, an American awaiting Canadian citizenship, lives in Vernon and in Florida. In a career that spans more than 40 years, Don has been a working journalist, a speechwriter and the CEO of an advertising and public relations firm. A passionate and compassionate man, he loves the written word as much as fine dinners with great wines. His essays are a blend of news reporting and opinion.


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