Ed.: 013116 – Words: 1567 – Audio: N/A
Much of the RESPONSIBLE media is going through some form of fact checking following the President’s first State of the Union speech after his first year in office. In typical Trumpian fashion, it had a fair measure of hyperbole and bombastic claims to bolster his image.. and as usual, feeding his insatiable and misguided 35%-40% base. Here’s a few things to remember at the outset.
- Trump didn’t write the speech, nor do many presidents. Generally credit goes to delivery. tone, and even gestures. Obviously a president can approve content. The idea is to sell the image of being the nation’s leader beyond just the content rhetoric.
- In Trump’s case, it’s also about staying on the teleprompter and not going off the reservation. Given Trump has set his own bar very low, this was a good speech… for him. Hardly anything Obama might have presented, but, ok, not everyone has Obama’s talent of oratory.
- -SIGH- and then there’s the facts.. or lack thereof. As I was listening to the speech I was wondering just how much of this bravado is pure bullshit. The sad part is, why did I even have to wonder that with any president? Well, because this guy has a flat-out crappy record for telling the truth… and is a loose cannon.
My own take-away from his speech,,,
- As I kinda expected he didn’t make much mention of Russia’s tampering with our election process. He continues to disregard all official evidence of Russian tampering and the very public anticipation of Russia’s continued tampering in future elections. It’s a direct strike at our democracy and he is not taking action to protect the country.. preferring to “protect” the country from illegal Mexicans.
- He’s not a detail guy and as such seldom presents details of the things he wants to do. He just blurts out his personal bias’s and calls them national problems without any sort of facts to support what he wants. This speech was no different. To me he didn’t push any of his future plans with even a hint of detail to provide some emphasis for his case.
- More of the “State of the Dis-Union”, I’m afraid. This business about extending open hands with Congress for one thing or another, the effort to be the “cheerleader” for removing the national divisiveness, just fell flat. For one main reason, what little he did say on the subject I just didn’t believe; he was not convincing one bit. He even had to take a shot at the sport figures who didn’t stand for the anthem. This is supposed to be a positive speech.. not a damn stage for continued badgering the parts of society he doesn’t agree with… or even hates.
- One thing I never thought about while listening to other SOTUS speeches in the past, what’s Trump’s morning tweets going to say that will just make his speech complete rhetoric; what will be blurt out to make this speech meaningless (even more so)?
But.. who cares about what I think. The CNN Insta-poll suggests Trump had a 48% approval. Some other polls are going as high as 78% of viewers approved of what he said. Good for him. But historically anything positive in meaningful numbers for him is short lived because of his own mouth (or Tweets). If you think year one was complete chaos.. just wait till Trump 2.0. He keeps playing to his base and could care less about growing his base.
The Fact Checking – (thanks to Politifact.com – entire report with explanation details HERE.)
STATEMENT 1 – “Just as I promised the American people from this podium 11 months ago, we enacted the biggest tax cuts and reforms in American history.”
It is FALSE that the tax-cut package passed in December is the largest cut ever, as Trump has repeatedly claimed.
In inflation-adjusted dollars, the recent tax bill is the fourth-largest since 1940. And as a percentage of GDP, it ranks seventh.
STATEMENT 2 – “After years of wage stagnation, we are finally seeing rising wages.”
We (Politifact) rated Trump’s claim MOSTLY FALSE. By the most common measure, wages did go up for the first three quarters of Trump’s presidency, but they fell in the fourth, wiping out all the gains on his watch and then some.
His assertion also ignores that wages — by two different measurements — began their climb during the final years of Obama’s presidency.
STATEMENT 3 – “We have eliminated more regulations in our first year than any administration in the history of our country.”
Trump has a point here, but it’s not the whole story. Trump’s use of the Congressional Review Act to roll back regulations did set a record in his first year. Trump had signed 15 Congressional Review Act measures compared with one previously. But experts have told us that other presidents signed laws that cut more rules than Trump.
Examples include the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, and the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995, as well as President Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan’s deregulation of such previously heavily regulated industries as air travel, trucking, banking and telecommunications.
STATEMENT 4 – “We built the Empire State Building in just one year – isn’t it a disgrace that it can now take 10 years just to get a permit approved for a simple road?”
We (Politifact) rated Trump’s claim HALF TRUE. The Empire State Building was constructed in one year and 45 days, a little longer than Trump said. He’s off base when he said that permitting takes 10 years. Recent government studies say the permit approval time ranges from 4.6 to 6.6 years. The only study we found that claims a 10-year approval is common comes from an anti-regulation group, which raises questions about its reliability.
STATEMENT 5 – “The third pillar ends the visa lottery — a program that randomly hands out green cards without any regard for skill, merit, or the safety of American people.”
We (Politifact) rated Trump’s claim FALSE. While lottery applicants are randomly selected, they must meet education and work experience requirements. They must also be vetted by the United States government before being allowed to come to the United States.
STATEMENT 6 – “African-American unemployment stands at the lowest rate ever recorded, and Hispanic American unemployment has also reached the lowest levels in history.
The black unemployment rate is indeed at record lows, and the Hispanic unemployment rate reached the lowest levels in history during Trump’s tenure.
That’s a continuation of an earlier trend. Under former President Barack Obama, the unemployment rate for both groups fell by more than half.
However, economists are skeptical about the ability of presidents to take either credit or blame for conditions on their watch, because many other factors play into economic results.
STATEMENT 7 – “In the past, we have foolishly released hundreds and hundreds of dangerous terrorists, only to meet them again on the battlefield — including the ISIS leader, al-Baghdadi, who we captured, who we had, who we released.”
We (Politifact) rated this statement MOSTLY FALSE. Trump overstated the number of prisoners released from Guantanamo, who were confirmed to have re-engaged in some type of terrorist activity. That number is 122, not “hundreds and hundreds.”
He is also not entirely right that al-Baghdadi was “released” by the United States. The ISIS leader was handed over to the Iraqis in 2004. The Iraqis released him some time later.
A legal contract between the United States and Iraq guaranteed that the United States would give up custody of virtually every detainee; it was signed during the Bush administration. It would have required an extraordinary effort to have held on to Baghdadi.
STATEMENT 8 – “Chrysler is moving a major plant from Mexico to Michigan.”
Moving isn’t the right word here. We rated Trump’s earlier claim that “Chrysler is leaving Mexico and moving back to Michigan” HALF TRUE.
Chrysler does plan to spend $1 billion to shift production of Ram trucks from Saltillo, Mexico, to Warren, Mich. in 2020. But the Mexican plant will start making another kind of vehicle, and the company expects no change in the number of workers there.
STATEMENT 9 – “We have ended the war on American Energy and we have ended the war on beautiful clean coal. We are now, very proudly, an exporter of energy to the world.”
We (Poltifact) rated this claim MOSTLY FALSE. The United States remains a net energy importer, a situation that’s not expected to change until midway through the next decade.
When it comes to individual energy sources, the U.S. status as a net exporter of coal and refined petroleum products predates Trump.
To be perfectly honest, Politifact did indeed find some TRUE and accurate statements from Trump and I would encourage the reader to visit there and read their report if they need the warm fuzzies along with the negative. But the fact that he had so many “untruths” and/or exaggerations rather taints the others that might be accurate. You might expect to hear some exaggerations in any presidential speech on any given year.. but overt lies to mislead is just uncalled for.. and in Trump’s case sadly becomes expected as commonplace.