Barnum & Bailey’s show may be folding its tent, but the circus has returned to Washington, and as last night’s speech by President Trump showed, it attracted plenty of suckers. Several hundred of his sycophants* bounced up and down in an orgy of standing ovations and over-the-top applause at the conclusion of nearly every sentence uttered by our leader. An explosion of cheers greeted his introduction of his wife Melania, the nation’s First Lady, prompting us to wonder what she has done — or is doing — to deserve that.
Yes, he actually spoke in complete sentences, an uncommon occurrence, as we have learned. Trump carefully read words prepared for him, mostly in measured tones, trying his best to appear presidential. It worked. Many Americans clearly relieved that for once he stuck to the script handed him and didn’t launch off in several directions on his usual juvenile rants, loved the speech, and so the praise comes pouring in.
What did he say? Well, he talked a lot about dreams and values, nice things, warm, fuzzy ideas. And he lied, of course. The Boston Globe, one of our nation’s most respected newspapers, checked his version of the facts. Here is a sample of what they found.
Trump: ‘‘The vast majority of individuals convicted for terrorism-related offenses since 9/11 came here from outside of our country. We have seen the attacks at home — from Boston to San Bernardino to the Pentagon and yes, even the World Trade Center.’’
Well, no. More than half of the people Trump talks about were born in the United States, according to the Department of Homeland Security. The San Bernardino killer was born in Chicago.
Trump: ‘‘According to the National Academy of Sciences, our current immigration system costs America’s taxpayers many billions of dollars a year.’’
Nope. The NAS report says immigrants ‘‘contribute to government finances by paying taxes and add expenditures by consuming public services.’’ The report found that while first-generation immigrants are more expensive to governments than their native-born counterparts, immigrants’ children ‘‘are among the strongest economic and fiscal contributors in the population.’’
Trump: ‘‘Since my election, Ford, Fiat-Chrysler, General Motors, Sprint, Softbank, Lockheed, Intel, Walmart and many others have announced that they will invest billions of dollars in the United States and will create tens of thousands of new American jobs.’’
The truth: Many of the announcements reflect corporate decisions that predate Trump’s election, His administration is not the sole or even the primary reason for the expected hiring.
Trump: ‘‘We’ve saved taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars by bringing down the price’’ of the F-35 fighter jet.’’
The cost savings he boasts about were in motion before he became president.
Trump: ‘‘We will stop the drugs from pouring into our country and poisoning our youth — and we will expand treatment for those who have become so badly addicted.’’
The truth: Repeal of the Affordable Care Act could end coverage for 1.8 million people who have received addiction or mental health treatment and cut $5.5 billion in spending on those services, according to estimates by economist Richard Frank, a former Obama administration official now at Harvard Medical School.
There’s more, but these few examples serve to remind us of the character of our president. His calm, measured, prepared remarks elicited relief from his supporters, but his priorities and his lies shine a brighter light on the real person.
*syncophant: a self-seeking, servile flatterer; fawning parasite. — Dictionary.com