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Fact-checking the SOTU, “a manifesto of mistruths”

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SOTU was simply an expanded campaign speech that included a few stunts like a reunion, a scholarship award, and a medal presentation. His speeches have tended to lies, this SOTU is no different. Yet there were even more lies besides the stunts and appeals to evangelicals.

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Madam Speaker, Mr. Vice President, members of Congress, the first lady of the United States and my fellow citizens, three years ago we launched the great American comeback.

  • A key element to the Trump narrative is that America was bad before he came along. And it’s great now.

Tonight, I stand before you to share the incredible results. Jobs are booming, incomes are soaring, poverty is plummeting, crime is falling, confidence is surging, and our country is thriving and highly respected again! America’s enemies are on the run, America’s fortunes are on the rise, and America’s future is blazing bright.

  • The story Trump can tell is about the economy. But as with everything, he uses hyperbole. Incomes are up. But “soaring’? Poverty is still a major issue. In his telling, it is “plummeting.” He is the ultimate salesman.

The years of economic decay are over. The days of our country being used, taken advantage of, and even scorned by other nations are long behind us. Gone too are the broken promises, jobless recoveries, tired platitudes, and constant excuses for the depletion of American wealth, power, and prestige.

  • It’s important to note that the economy has been expanding for a decade, starting under President Barack Obama. And the rate of growth is not any greater for Trump. But in his telling, he is to thank for it all. More jobs were created in the end of Obama’s last term than in the beginning of Trump’s. But he doesn’t provide that nuance.

In just 3 short years, we have shattered the mentality of American decline, and we have rejected the downsizing of America’s destiny. We are moving forward at a pace that was unimaginable just a short time ago, and we are never going back!

I am thrilled to report to you tonight that our economy is the best it has ever been. Our military is completely rebuilt, with its power being unmatched anywhere in the world – and it is not even close. Our borders are secure. Our families are flourishing. Our values are renewed. Our pride is restored. And for all these reasons, I say to the people of our great country, and to the Members of Congress before me: The State of our Union is stronger than ever before!

  • It is impossible to keep track of his overstatements. The economy is the best it’s ever been? The US has had the largest military in the world for decades. The borders are secure? Then why is there a national emergency to build a wall there?

The vision I will lay out this evening demonstrates how we are building the world’s most prosperous and inclusive society – one where every citizen can join in America’s unparalleled success, and where every community can take part in America’s extraordinary rise.

  • Trump argues that he is building the most inclusive society in the world. But he has repeatedly said nice things about white nationalists and he has made the guiding principle of his political career to keep immigrants out of the country.

From the instant I took office, I moved rapidly to revive the United States economy – slashing a record number of job-killing regulations, enacting historic and record-setting tax cuts, and fighting for fair and reciprocal trade agreements. Our agenda is relentlessly pro-worker, pro-family, pro-growth, and, most of all, pro-American. We are advancing with unbridled optimism and lifting high our citizens of every race, color, religion, and creed.

  • Again, it’s debatable that the economy needed reviving when he took office. It’s been growing for more than a decade. He did move to cut many regulations — but there are serious environmental impacts for those moves. Further, that tax cut bill, which permanently cut corporate rates and temporarily cut individual rates, has made the national deficit skyrocket to more than $1 trillion per year. The national debt goes unmentioned in this speech, which is an incredible thing for a Republican president.

www.cnn.com/…

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The predictable hollowness and absurdity of the speech notwithstanding, its contents gave a preview of what’s to come next fall when the president seeks reelection. Though Trump’s rhetoric has never matched his record, tonight saw him striking a populist cadence on trade and posturing as the guardian of Medicare and Social Security. The phrases “pro-worker” and “blue collar boom” both made an appearance even as he blasted a “socialist takeover of our healthcare system.” Lurid tabloid imagery of immigrant crime and foreign invasion tied it all together, plus exclusionary nationalism and phony populism.

Whatever its grotesqueries, it’s a message that cannot and will not be defeated by the rhetoric and policies inexplicably still in vogue among centrist liberals. As 2016 demonstrated, technocratic liberalism married with vague uplift and an empty rhetoric of inclusion is woefully vulnerable to Trump’s brand of noxious populism. Tonight’s State of the Union is a dire warning about what may lie ahead if Trump’s reelection campaign is gifted with yet another establishment Democrat as an adversary in November.

jacobinmag.com/…

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