Donald Trump’s campaign, such as it is, has spent the past couple of weeks signaling the Republican’s plan for a big anti-Hillary Clinton speech. There wasn’t any other real point to the planned address – there was never any pretense about a specific issue or policy area – except the presumptive GOP nominee’s intention to complain a whole lot about his Democratic rival.
And so, Trump did exactly that this morning. Addressing supporters at a Trump hotel in New York – his campaign will no doubt pay a generous price for use of the venue owned by the candidate – the Republican candidate relied on his trusted teleprompter to go on the offensive.
Donald Trump called Hillary Clinton “a world class liar” who thinks she is “entitled” to the presidency during a speech attacking his Democratic rival Wednesday.“Hillary Clinton may be the most corrupt person ever to seek the presidency of the United States,” Trump said in a speech at one of his properties in New York. […]“Her campaign slogan is ‘I’m with her,’” Trump said. “You know what my response to that is? I’m with you: the American people.”
Right. Because if there’s one thing that’s obvious about Donald J. Trump, it’s that he isn’t a narcissist.
Most of the attacks were predictable and clumsily delivered, but the most striking thing about this morning’s scripted address was its breathtaking dishonesty. In theory, if Clinton were as awful as Trump and Republicans claim, it should be fairly easy to deliver a speech condemning her using facts and real-world evidence.
Instead, as Slate’s Jamelle Bouie put it, Trump leaned on “an avalanche of falsehoods.”
It’s hard to even know where to start; the lie-to-sentence ratio approached one to one. Trump said he opposed the war in Iraq before the 2003 invasion, which isn’t true. He said Clinton’s email server was hacked, which isn’t true. Trump said Clinton wants “totally open borders” and an end to “virtually all immigration enforcement,” which isn’t even close to being true.
Trump lied about Syrian refugees. He lied about the loan he received to start his business. He lied about U.S. tax rates. He lied about Benghazi (more than once). He lied about the Clinton Foundation. He lied about gifts Clinton received during her tenure as Secretary of State.
And really, this is just a sampling. If there had been a machine in the room that buzzed every time Trump said something untrue, the thing would have caught fire by the time the candidate wrapped up his remarks.
Remember, if Trump had been speaking off the cuff, it might be easier to defend some of these obvious and demonstrable falsehoods; he and his allies might be able to say he got confused or lost his train of thought. But this was Trump reading on a teleprompter from a prepared text. In other words, Trump deliberately made a whole lot of claims that weren’t in any way true – all while accusing his rival of being a “liar.”
I’ve seen some punditry this afternoon suggesting Trump seemed like an improved candidate this morning, at least compared to some of his other recent speeches. But I’d recommend not grading on a curve: presidential candidates who accuse rivals of lying while simultaneously delivering one brazen falsehood after another are not deserving of praise. By some measures, this morning’s ridiculous tirade should have been a disqualifying moment for Trump: it served as powerful evidence that the candidate is so disconnected from reality, he hardly understands what the truth is.
If Trump is serious about turning this presidential race into a contest over which candidate is more honest, he should be prepared to lose every state.