Trump absurdly claims US will 'have to learn' Chinese if he loses

Despite a breathtaking record, Trump has failed to learn a simple lesson: lies intended to scare people have to be realistic to have the intended effect.
Image: Donald Trump, Xi Jinping, CHINA-US-DIPLOMACY
China's President Xi Jinping and President Donald Trump attend a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Nov. 9, 2017.Fred Dufour / AFP - Getty Images file
By Steve Benen

Despite a breathtaking record of dishonesty and demagoguery, Donald Trump has failed to learn a simple lesson: lies intended to scare people have to be vaguely realistic to have the intended effect.

For example, consider the president's pitch yesterday to conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt:

"Look, China will own the United States if this election is lost by Donald Trump. If I don't win the election, China will own the United States. You're going to have to learn to speak Chinese, [if] you want to know the truth. And you'll have to learn it fast. They will own the United States."

It's always striking when Trump makes up something ridiculous, and then quickly adds "if you want to know the truth," as if his absurdities should be seen as candor.

I won't pretend to know why Trump thinks China will take ownership of the United States in the event of his defeat. There's nothing especially coherent about the claim.

But it was the president's offhand assertion that Americans will quickly have to "learn to speak Chinese" that's truly an amazing xenophobic feat.

There's no upside to nonsense like this, in large part because it's literally unbelievable. There is no meaningful group of American voters out there thinking, "Well, I don't want to learn to speak Chinese, so I guess I'll have to support the Republican ticket."

For its part, the Biden campaign's director of rapid response, Andrew Bates, told TPM yesterday that Trump is "the weakest president in American history with respect to China."

Bates added, in reference to the incumbent president, "He has hurt our alliances, left a vacuum in the world for China to fill, offered support for concentration camps, prostrated himself to ask for a re-election bailout, and leveled the strong economy we left him. That is precisely why numerous Chinese officials are openly pulling for Donald Trump to win, and why the American people absolutely can't afford that outcome."