How fake is our president? Let’s count the ways.
It started early. He was elected with the help of Russia and by a minority of American voters. Hillary Clinton received 2,864,974 more votes.
Remember his campaign pledge to “Drain the swamp?” That was fake, too. Fortune Magazine recently reported that in less than three years our president “has named more former lobbyists to cabinet-level posts than his most recent predecessors did in eight, putting a substantial amount of oversight in the hands of people with ties to the industries they are regulating.”
Former lobbyists now head the federal departments of Defense, Interior, Environmental Protection, Labor, and the office of Trade Representative. The U.S. Office of Government Ethics recently found violations at three federal agencies: Environment, Interior and the National Labor Relations Board.
Small wonder then that our purported Environmental Protection Agency has become hostile to the overwhelming scientific consensus that human activity is the primary factor contributing to Climate Change. The EPA also is keen on rolling back mileage standards on cars and loosening pollution controls on coal-burning power plants, among myriad new retrograde policies.
Before coming to Washington, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler spent the previous decade as a fossil fuel industry lobbyist for the likes of Murray Energy, the nation’s largest privately owned coal company. Its head, Robert E. Murray, contributed $300,000 to our president’s inauguration (which, by the way, contrary to one of our president’s countless fake facts, was way smaller than his predecessor’s).
It also should be noted that six people in our president’s posse, including a campaign manager, national security advisor, and former lawyer, have been convicted or charged with crimes. Others are under legal scrutiny, including his current lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.
The swamp is now a great lake and the water’s cold.
Are you ready for some more fakery? While running for office in 2016, our president pledged to “get rid of” the national debt in eight years. Republicans hate debt except, of course, when they are in power. Thanks in large part to tax breaks for the uber-wealthy, the United States federal budget deficit jumped 26 percent in fiscal 2019, adding a whopping $984 billion to our collective credit card imbalance. The next fiscal year is expected to add a record $1 trillion dollars-plus to our debt, which now exceeds $22 trillion in toto.
All that funny money isn’t being spent on social programs but rather on “needy” real estate tycoons and captains of industry and commerce. Where would our poor, self-reliant capitalists be without the free-spending GOP and socialism for the rich?
Are you tired of winning yet? Eighteen months ago, our president said that “trade wars are good, and easy to win.” Tell that to struggling farmers, uncertain manufacturers, and nervous consumers. Farm country is in crisis, in part because of tariffs, and both manufacturing output and consumer confidence have declined in recent months. Manufacturing activity is at its lowest ebb since 2009, during the Great Recession.
And how about his fake foreign policy: Although “policy” is too grand a word to describe decisions made solely by one man looking down and consulting his opposable thumbs—without regard for American allies, honor, or his own hapless advisors.
A phone call with a Turkish strongman is enough to send our president into full retreat from Syria, withdrawing support for our Kurdish friends who did the heavy lifting in the battle against ISIS, sacrificing some 11,000 soldiers. As is often the case, his closest aides and our military leaders were appalled. On the other hand, Vladimir Putin, Iran, Turkey and Syria were ecstatic for this impulsive gift from our supposed artful deal-maker.
Our unreal president compulsively calls other people and institutions “fake,” such as the news media (even, gasp, Fox News of late) and his political opponents—all the better to distract you and me from his own tumescent con game.
He doesn’t speak like any president in our history. He talks like a vulgar carnival barker, like a malevolent version of P.T. Barnum, the legendary American showman and hoaxer. At his museum of curiosities, Barnum erected a sign that read “This way to the Egress,” which many paying customers assumed was the route to another eye-popping exhibit. It led them, of course, back out to the street, where they had purchase another ticket to get back into the museum.
Our president is desperately hoping to hoodwink you and me into buying four more years. If he succeeds, the price will be steep indeed.
David Holahan is a freelance writer from East Haddam.