One of the hallmarks of Donald Trump’s presidency is the frequency with which he finds reality politically inconvenient. If the Affordable Care Act were really imploding, for example, the Republican White House wouldn’t find it necessary to sabotage it. If the tax code were truly in desperate need of a dramatic overhaul, Trump wouldn’t find it necessary to constantly remind us how great the economy is.
And if the international nuclear agreement with Iran were really a disaster, Trump wouldn’t find it necessary to lie about it. The New York Times reported:
President Trump declared his intention not to recertify the Iran nuclear deal in a forceful speech on Friday. But the rationale he provided includes several misleading or incomplete statements about the terms of the deal, what he considers a violation of the agreement and Iran itself.
Slate ran a related analysis, marveling at Trump’s staggering dishonesty.
President Trump’s statement Friday on the Iran nuclear deal may be the most dishonest speech he has ever given from the White House – and, depending what happens next, it could be his most damaging. It flagrantly misrepresents what the deal was meant to do, the extent of Iran’s compliance, and the need for corrective measures. If he gets his way, he will blow up one of the most striking diplomatic triumphs of recent years, aggravate tensions in the Middle East, make it even harder to settle the North Korean crisis peacefully, and make it all but impossible for allies and adversaries to trust anything the United States says for as long as Trump is in office.
The Washington Post had a piece of its own, fact-checking Trump’s speech, highlighting some of the president’s most glaring errors – of which there were many.
To a certain extent, this may seem like a classic dog-bites-man story – “Trump says a bunch of untrue things about a policy he pretends to understand” – but given the seriousness of the situation, that doesn’t seem like a satisfying response.
And yet, Trump ignored all of this, putting U.S. credibility on the international stage in jeopardy (again), and risking a new global crisis – adding to the other crises Trump is already struggling to manage.
So why bother? The truth – Trump opposes the policy he doesn’t understand because Barack Obama supported it – may seem overly simplistic, but it’s almost certainly accurate anyway.
If Trump had a credible, accurate rationale for putting the existing policy at risk, he’d likely share it. The fact that the president has been reduced to making stuff up tells us quite about the merits (or lack thereof) of the White House’s stated position.