The old saying that it is easier to tell the truth than lie (because it is more difficult to keep track of lies) doesn’t seem to apply to Donald Trump. Of his 43 statements fact checked by PolitiFact so far, not a single one has earned a True rating, and he got only two “Mostly True” ratings, while 21 were rated False and eight were “Pants on Fire” (that’s more than Sarah Palin!).
Trump doesn’t even care to keep track of his lies. He seems perfectly willing to contradict himself, and if anyone points out his mendacity he’ll just attack them (for being a loser). For example, Trump completely contradicts himself when he bashes Obama for withdrawing troops from Iraq. In May, Trump said on Fox News:
It’s the fault of Obama—there is no question. It’s the fault of Bush for going in. It’s the fault of Obama for getting out. It’s a disaster—the war should have never happened. And then once it did happen, you should have at least left the troops in. So it’s really a double fault.
On another Fox appearance he said:
We shouldn’t have been there, and once we were there, we probably should have stayed. The Middle East has been totally decapitated. It’s a mess. The balance has been lost between Iraq and Iran.
But back in 2007 on CNN, Trump said quite the opposite:
The war is a total disaster, it’s a catastrophe, nothing less. It is such a shame that this took place. In fact, I gained a lot of respect for our current president’s father by the fact he had the sense to not to go into Iraq. He won the war and then said let’s not go the rest of the way, and he turned out to be right. And Saddam Hussein, whether they like him or didn’t like him, he hated terrorists. He’d shot and killed terrorists. When terrorists came into his country, which he did control, which he did dominate, he would kill terrorists. Now it’s a breeding ground for terrorists. Look, the war is a total catastrophe. And they have a civil war going on over there. Well, there’s only one person you can blame, and that’s our current president…[Cheney] is obviously a very hawkish guy on the war. He said the war was going fantastically just a few months ago. It’s just very sad. I don’t know if they’re bad people. I don’t know what’s going. I just know that they got us into a mess the likes of which this country has probably never seen. It’s one of the great catastrophes of all time. And perhaps even worse: The rest of the world hates us.
Interviewer Wolf Blitzer asked Trump, “How does the United States get out of this situation?” and Trump replied:
How do they get out? You know how they get out? They get out. That’s how they get out. Declare victory and leave. Because, I’ll tell you, this country is just going to get further bogged down. They’re in a civil war over there, Wolf. There’s nothing that we’re going to be able to do with a civil war. They are in a major civil war. And it’s going to go to Iran, and it’s going to go to other countries. They are in the midst of a major civil war. By the way, we’re keeping the lid on a little bit. But the day we leave anyway it’s all going to blow up. And Saddam Hussein will be a nice person compared to the man…that takes over… This is a total catastrophe, and you might as well get out now because you’re just wasting time and lives. You know, nobody talks about the soldiers who are coming back with no arms and no legs. And I saw at Mar-a-Largo on Monday. I make Mar-a-Largo, my club [in Palm Beach, Florida] that you know about… On a Monday, I let returning Iraq injured soldiers come to the premises. The most beautiful people I’ve ever seen, but they’re missing arms and legs. They’re with their wives. Sometimes they’re with their girlfriends. And the tears are coming down the faces of these people. I mean, the thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands—and the Iraqis that have just maimed and killed. This war is a horrible thing. Now President Bush says he is religious. And yet 400,000 people, the way I count it, have died, and probably millions have been badly maimed and injured. What’s going on? What’s going on?
So Trump now blames Obama for following the policy that he vigorously promoted. You wouldn’t think you could get much more hypocritical, but you can. Because it was Dubya who signed the treaty withdrawing our troops from Iraq, not Obama.
Trump even lies about his money and success. Trump likes to brag that he is very wealthy. How wealthy? When he announced his bid for the presidency in June, Trump claimed that he was worth $8,737,540,000 – close to $9 billion dollars. And he added “I’m proud of my net worth. I’ve done an amazing job.”
But Forbes magazine has been tracking Trump’s wealth (the same as they track other rich people) since 1982, and they dispute Trump’s number, calling it a “whopper”. They put his net worth at $4.1 billion, less than half of what Trump claimed. But Trump doubled down (contradicting himself) in July at a campaign rally in Iowa, claiming that he was “actually worth more than $10” billion.
It could be an even bigger lie. Bloomberg evaluated Trump in July and claims that he is worth only $2.9 billion.
What makes this even more hilarious is that Trump tells everybody that he is a huge success. But is he really? Trump was the son of real estate tycoon Fred Trump, and received an inheritance from his father estimated as high as $200 million. If he had invested his inheritance in the stock market using a simple index fund of S&P 500 stocks, Trump would be worth $8 billion today. Other estimates say he could have been worth as much as $13 billion today by investing his money in the stock market.
But it gets worse. The only reason Trump has as much money as he does now is that he was able to take advantage of various forms of corporate welfare. It is widely known that Trump companies declared bankruptcy four times (in 1991, 1992, 2004, and 2009), which allowed him to shield his personal assets from losses incurred in his businesses. How much less would he be worth now if he had not been able to do that?
In addition, according to an article in the LA Times:
From his first high-profile project in New York City in the 1970s to his recent campaigns to reduce taxes on property he owns around the country, Trump has displayed a consistent pattern. He courted public officials, sought their backing for government tax breaks under extraordinarily beneficial terms and fought any resistance to deals he negotiated.
He has boasted of manipulating government agencies, misleading officials in one case into believing he had an exclusive agreement to develop a property and then retroactively changing the development’s accounting practices to shrink his tax bill. In New York, Trump was the first developer to receive a public subsidy for commercial projects under programs initially reserved for improving slum neighborhoods.
In other words, Trump brags about being a corporate welfare queen. How much less would he be worth now without all this government assistance?
Just how did he manage to get these subsidies and tax breaks? By bribing politicians with (legal) campaign contributions:
He has also curried favor with elected officials through campaign contributions and lucrative job offers.
His giving has long been carefully targeted. A 1980s study by Newsday found that Trump had donated more than anyone else to members of the New York City Board of Estimate, which at the time approved all land-use development. A recent study by New York’s Public Interest Research Group showed that since 1999, Trump has donated $595,638 to the state’s lawmakers.
Still think Trump is a shrewd businessman? Business Insider compared Trump to other billionaire businessmen on the Forbes list, and Trump hasn’t done all that well compared to them. Of the 56 billionaires whose net worth has increased, Trump came in at position 42, with a net increase of 300%. To give you an idea, the top billionaire on the list increased his net worth by 14658%, and I’m sure none of us would want Larry Ellison (Oracle) to be president! Number two is George Soros at 8245%, then Bill Gates at 7027%, Phil Knight (Nike) at 6175%, Charles Butt (HEB Grocery stores) at 3977%, and both Koch Brothers at 3855% each. Compared to them, Trump is an amateur with a big mouth.
How can Trump lie so much (and exaggerate so much) and get away with it? Why does anyone believe anything Trump says? An answer might be found in the beliefs of the people who support him. According to a new national poll:
66% of Trump’s supporters believe that Obama is a Muslim to just 12% that grant he’s a Christian. 61% think Obama was not born in the United States to only 21% who accept that he was. And 63% want to amend the Constitution to eliminate birthright citizenship, to only 20% who want to keep things the way they are.
When Trump questions Obama’s religion or his birth place, or calls illegal immigrants “rapists” and “criminals”, he is appealing to the racist elements in our society. As the poll concludes:
Donald Trump’s saying things out on the campaign trail that a lot of people think, but that have generally been seen as not appropriate to talk about in public. So it’s not surprising that people who hold those kinds of beliefs are gravitating towards him.
And if these people believe in Trump, they will believe anything he says, even if it is an outright lie.