Over the summer, Donald Trump told a group of supporters that he'd spoken with the head of U.S. Steel, who told him that, as a result of the president's policies, the company was opening six new plants. It wasn't long before we learned that Trump had made up the conversation, and U.S. Steel wasn't opening any new plants.
But the president was undeterred by reality. As the Toronto Star's Daniel Dale has documented in detail, Trump not only kept repeating the lie, he also inflated the number of new plants that don't exist. What started as six imaginary plants soon became seven, then eight, and more recently "at least eight."
Remember, the actual number is zero. The president nevertheless repeats the lie at nearly every campaign rally, constantly upping the ante, assuming Republican voters won't know or care about the difference.
Something eerily similar is unfolding with Trump's rhetoric about a $110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia, which, in reality, is not real. And yet, despite the fact that the deal does not really exist, the American president continues to ascribe new job totals to the imagined agreement.
Mar. 20, 2018: "We're talking about over 40,000 jobs in the United States."
Oct. 13, 2018: "It's 450,000 jobs."
Oct. 17, 2018: "It's 500,000 jobs."
Oct. 19, 2018: "I'd prefer that we not cancel $110 billion worth of work, which means 600,000 jobs."
Oct. 19, 2018 (a few hours later): "600,000 jobs, maybe more than that."
Oct. 19, 2018 (a few hours later after that): "So now if you're talking about -- that was $110 billion -- you know, you're talking about over a million jobs."
I half expect him to start making up gibberish numbers just to see what he can get away with. ("This arms deal will create 18 gajillion jobs....")
Of course, while it's tempting to laugh at all of this, the underlying point is quite serious.