Data Wonk

Counting the Lies By Trump

The other side of his debate with Joe Biden.

By - Jul 3rd, 2024 11:21 am
Official portrait of President Donald J. Trump, Friday, October 6, 2017. Official White House photo by Shealah Craighead. Photo is in the Public Domain.

Official portrait of President Donald J. Trump, Friday, October 6, 2017. Official White House photo by Shealah Craighead. Photo is in the Public Domain.

Some Democrats’ disappointment with Joe Biden’s performance in the recent presidential debate has served Donald Trump well, in my view. The rush to demand that Biden step down has shifted attention away from what the debate tells us about Donald Trump to an attempted reboot of the primary season. Here are some of the things that Trump told us about himself:

The debate confirms, if evidence was needed, that Trump is an accomplished and intensive liar. The headline on CNN’s fact-checking sums this up: “Trump made more than 30 false claims during CNN’s presidential debate — far more than Biden.”

This is a very impressive number of lies for a relatively short time period. The debate lasted 90 minutes. If we ignore the time the moderators took to ask their questions, this leaves something less than 45 minutes for each candidate. Thus, Trump’s lies came at the rate of one lie per minute and a half.

Second, Trump showed an inability to learn. He continues to assert that “fraud and everything else was ridiculous” in the 2020 election. This claim comes despite being thoroughly debunked. A president who refuses to accept facts would be particularly dangerous to the future of the United States and its allies around the world.

Here is Trump’s response to a question, which he turns into a false attack on Biden:

He gets paid by China. He’s a Manchurian candidate. He gets money from China. So I think he’s afraid to deal with him or something.

This example illustrates two aspects of Trump’s approach. First, it is not responsive to the question, which was on the opioid crisis. Second, it ignores the fact that a House committee tried, at Trump’s urging, to find evidence that Biden was paid by China and gave up.

Trump’s lies are unique among public figures not only because of their frequency, but because they persist long after they are debunked. Normally, when politicians realize they have uttered a falsehood, they correct themselves. For example, at one point, Biden misspoke and said that he lowered the cost of insulin to $15 per dose. At the end of the debate, he corrected himself to say that the correct cost is $35.

Trump persists in making arguments that he must know his audience knows are untrue. For example, he claims that with Roe v. Wade “everybody wanted to get back to the states. Everybody, without exception: Democrats, Republicans, liberals, conservatives.” This is a very strange argument because it can be refuted by anyone who wanted to keep Roe. And of course, polling consistently finds that most Americans wanted to keep Roe.

Many of Trump’s lies are amazingly easy to disprove. For example, he claims that the House January 6th Committee “destroyed and deleted all of the information they found, because they found out we were right. We were right. And they deleted and destroyed all of the information.” Yet the Committee’s files and reports are just a click away.

It is evident that Trump projects his motivations onto his opponents. Put another way, if one wishes to know what Trump is onto, or intends to do if he wins another term, look at what he accuses Biden of doing.

Trump repeatedly projects his motivations onto Biden, asserting that others are driven by the same motives that drive him. At one point he claims, “he [Biden] indicted me because I was his opponent.” Of course, Biden has not indicted anyone. Trump’s conviction was by a jury of twelve people.

What is evident is that Trump plans to use the Justice Department to target opponents. Because he would do so, he believes that Biden is doing the same.

Trump lies about almost everything down the most trivial, from his weight [“I think I’m a very good shape. I feel that I’m in as good a shape as I was 25, 30 years ago. Actually, I’m probably a little bit lighter. But I’m in as good a shape as I was years ago. I feel very good. I feel the same.”] to his golf score.

In addition to being a prolific liar, Trump is running on the premise that the United States is failing and that only he, with unlimited authority, can save it. Hence, his actions to prevent significant bipartisan legislation to increase staffing at the borders.

This contrasts sharply with the view expressed by Biden at the debate:

The idea that somehow, we are this failing country, I never heard a president talk like this before. We – we’re the envy of the world. Name me a single major country president who wouldn’t trade places with the United States of America. For all our problems and all our opportunities, we’re the most progressive country in the world in getting things done. We’re the strongest country in the world. We’re a country in the world who keeps our word, and everybody trusts us, all of our allies.

Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chairman Ben Wikler told WPR it was a “tough debate, no question” and that he wished somebody would have given Biden a lozenge on the debate stage Thursday night. Wikler said his goal is to ensure voters see many different moments “in the campaigning arc of Joe Biden,” like his energetic speech after the debate and his rally in North Carolina Friday morning.

“For folks that are wavering and got nervous during the debate, go watch Biden in North Carolina and think about how effective he is when he’s out on the campaign trail,” Wikler said. “The second thing I’d say is that you can’t wring your hands when you’re rolling up your sleeves, and this election is one where all of us can play a starring role in making sure that democracy survives and Biden is reelected.”

So far, Wisconsin’s Democrats have continued to support the president, with Gov. Tony Evers contrasting Trump, who he called “incapable of being honest,” with Biden, “a man of integrity.”

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Categories: Data Wonk, Politics

One thought on “Data Wonk: Counting the Lies By Trump”

  1. TosaGramps1315 says:

    Now doubt Biden was seriously hurt by his lack of performance in this first debate. On the flip side, Frump’s “performance” was nothing more than that – an opportunity to continue to spew the same lies he has spat forth, some of them over 8 years old.
    Fact checkers could make it so much easier on themselves with this convict, circus ringleader, charlatan, game show host, and just count the true statements he makes. I guarantee the number will hover at or near zero every time.

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