In his bizarre speech introducing Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) as his running mate on Saturday, Donald Trump boasted about his prognostication skills. "If you look at my calls, I said, don't go into Iraq," he said.
It was an odd thing to brag about -- in part because he's lying and in part because Pence, ostensibly the man of the hour, was one of the war's most unrepentant cheerleaders.
But that was merely an appetizer before the main course, which came last night on CBS's "60 Minutes." Lesley Stahl reminded Trump that his new running mate supported the war in Iraq, which Trump frequently condemns. The presumptive Republican presidential nominee responded, "I don't care."
Asked how he could be indifferent on this given how much he's emphasized the war in his own campaign, Trump added, "It's a long time ago. And he voted that way and they were also misled. A lot of information was given to people." It led to this rather remarkable exchange:
Trump: But I was against the war in Iraq from the beginning. Stahl: Yeah, but you've used that vote of Hillary's that was the same as Governor Pence as the example of her bad judgment. Trump: Many people have, and frankly, I'm one of the few that was right on Iraq. Stahl: Yeah, but what about he-- Trump: He's entitled to make a mistake every once in a while. Lesley Stahl: But she's not? OK, come on-- Trump: But she's not-- Stahl: She's not? Donald Trump: No. She's not. Stahl: Got it.
Even the most mindless, knee-jerk Trump partisans should have trouble defending this one.
First, it's obviously absurd to think there should be two entirely different standards at play. Yes, Hillary Clinton voted to authorize the mission, though she came to regret it, and she's acknowledged many times that she wishes she'd gone the other way. Pence, meanwhile, not only voted the wrong way, he became an embarrassing cheerleader for a failed policy, repeating all kinds of nonsense about weapons of mass destruction and a connection between Iraq and 9/11 that did not exist in reality.
According to Trump, Pence's ridiculous beliefs are irrelevant -- it was, Trump insists, "a long time ago" -- but Clinton's 2002 vote is critically important. This is impossible to take seriously.
Second, the obvious dishonesty adds insult to injury. Stahl didn't alert viewers to the relevant details, but Trump continues to argue, "I was against the war in Iraq from the beginning.... I'm one of the few that was right on Iraq."
No. Wrong. Not true.
Trump is shamelessly, brazenly lying. He wasn't against the war from the beginning. The claim has been discredited many times. Asked to provide any evidence whatsoever that he opposed the war before it began, Trump and his team have offered literally nothing.
We'll probably never know for sure, but what I really want to know is whether or not Trump actually believes what he's saying. Does he know he's lying or has he convinced himself that the lie is true, to the point that fact and fiction are now blurred in his mind?