Despite Trump's claims, Dems aren't trying to ban cars

What Trump ought to understand is the difference between plausible and implausible lies.
A lot technician passes by a long line of unsold cars at a dealership in Highlands Ranch
A lot technician passes by a long line of unsold cars at a dealership in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, in Aug. 30, 2018.David Zalubowski / AP file
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By Steve Benen

As much of the political world turned its focus to Michigan's presidential primary, Donald Trump did what he often does in response to a topic of conversation: he published a very weird tweet.

"If you like automobiles, how can you vote for a Democrat who all want to get rid of cars, as quickly as possible, especially if they are powered by gasoline. Remember also, no more than one car per family. I, on the other hand, have new plants being built all over Michigan, Plus!"

It's likely the president saw a poll showing him trailing Joe Biden in Michigan -- a state the Republican narrowly won in 2016 -- and thought this might be a potent line of attack.

He thought wrong. There are, for example, no Democratic proposals to ban automobiles. Even if something along the lines of Green New Deal targets were broadly embraced by the party, the blueprint says nothing about the elimination of automobiles.

I especially enjoyed the "Remember also, no more than one car per family" line, in part because it's a ridiculous lie Trump made up, and in part because he added the "remember" line as if it were a detail that many had forgotten.

As for Trump's claims about opening plants "all over" Michigan, the president's rhetoric on the subject has been literally unbelievable for months.

But stepping back, there's a larger context to this: Trump's unintentionally funny tweet reeked of desperation. He apparently has a plan to hold onto Michigan, and it involves peddling transparent nonsense.

What the president ought to understand, though, is the difference between plausible and implausible lies. When Trump argues that Democrats intend to outlaw car ownership, some of his die-hard loyalists will probably play along, but most mainstream voters are going to think, "You know, that doesn't sound quite right."

I don't expect Trump to start telling the truth, but I do expect him to lie in ways that might plausibly resemble the truth. This Michigan lie falls far short.