Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks during the first presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. on Sept. 26, 2016.
Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

Donald Trump’s favorite lie isn’t doing him any favors

When the first presidential debate of the year turned its attention to national security, Hillary Clinton reminded the audience of a fact Donald Trump simply won’t accept.
CLINTON: Well, I hope the fact-checkers are turning up the volume and really working hard. Donald supported the invasion of Iraq.

TRUMP: Wrong.

CLINTON: That is absolutely proved over and over again.

TRUMP: Wrong. Wrong.
Soon after, moderator Lester Holt tried to use the truth in order to pivot to a question: “Mr. Trump, a lot of these are judgment questions. You had supported the war in Iraq before the invasion. What makes your…”
Trump refused to concede the point. “I did not support the war in Iraq,” the Republican insisted, blaming the confusion on “mainstream media nonsense put out by her.”

The NBC anchor tried to reference reality, which the GOP nominee didn’t appreciate.
HOLT: My question is, since you supported it…

TRUMP: Just – would you like to hear…

HOLT: … why is your – why is your judgment…

TRUMP: Wait a minute. I was against the war in Iraq. Just so you put it out.

HOLT: The record shows otherwise, but why – why was…

TRUMP: The record does not show that.
Actually, yes, it does. Trump desperately wants voters to believe he opposed the war from the start, but reality keeps getting in the way. The Republican candidate was reduced last night to arguing that Fox News’ Sean Hannity, a prominent Trump supporter, will back up his Iraq claims, but neither the candidate nor his media ally has any proof at all to support the obviously untrue claim.

The question is why in the world Trump keeps repeating the bogus claim that everyone already recognizes as untrue.

The New Republic’s Alex Shephard wrote last night, “Why does Trump keep lying about Iraq? Because he has absolutely no credible claim that he possesses the judgment necessary to be president of the United States. He’s essentially borrowing Barack Obama’s 2008 strategy on Iraq. It worked for Obama because he really did oppose the Iraq War – his claim to having the necessary judgment was credible. Trump’s isn’t.”

Agreed. Trump has spent a year and a half looking for something, anything, that bolsters his claims about expertise on national security. His bizarre series of “I called it!” tweets aren’t cutting it, but if Trump can show that he bucked the political establishment and ignored his own party on the Iraq invasion, it would offer at least some proof of sound instincts. It worked for then-candidate Obama eight years ago, and Trump apparently thinks it’ll work for him in 2016.

What Trump can’t seem to get around, however, is the fact that everyone knows he’s shamelessly lying, and there’s nothing he can do to prove otherwise.