A fitting epitaph for the tombstone of our current president would be, "Here Lies Donald Trump ... Still Lying."
Never has one president hurled so many big lies with such force at so many in such short time. From fibs to whoppers, he's No. 1, as documented by a daily Trump Tracker maintained by The Washington Post to document his record of achievement. It shows that in his first 732 days in office, our champion of presidential prevarication has uttered 8,158 untrue statements — an astonishing average of more than 11 a day! Here are just a few of his linguistic twists and turns on his favorite topic: "the wall."
Trump frequently screeches that the U.S. is under an "invasion" by dangerous "aliens" crossing the Mexican border illegally and creating a national security "crisis." FACTS: Illegal immigration across the border is at a 50-year low. Far from dangerous, the migrants now crossing are mostly Central American women and children fleeing abuse, repression and abject poverty back home, and they're legally seeking asylum here.
Still, Trump recently flew to the border city of McAllen, Texas, to dramatize the need for "a big beautiful wall" to cut the crime rate and "stop heroin" from entering the U.S. FACTS: Today's crime rate in McAllen is the lowest in 34 years, and Trump's own drug agency reports that nearly all heroin enters by smuggling it in trucks, trains, etc. that go right through inspection stations, so a multibillion-dollar wall would be useless to stop it.
Price is no barrier, declared the dealmaker, because "Mexico is going to pay for the wall." FACT: There was not a prayer of that happening. So, The Donald now claims, "obviously I never said this, and I never meant they're going to write out a check." FACT: He did say just that, many times, promising Mexico would "make a one-time payment of $5-10 billion." So, he's lately been trying a double backflip lie, claiming that his new North American free trade agreement deal with Mexico requires the country to pay up. FACT: No such language exists. And if it did, why would he still be demanding that we — us, you and I — shell out $5.7 billion for his boondoggle?
It's not simply that Trump lies, but that his presidency is a lie, dependent on his self-deceptions and his pitiful attempts to deceive us.
It's time for a pop quiz on Trump's humongous wall that he wants us taxpayers to build as a monument to his raging megalomania.
Question 1. How much will it cost us? Trump and company say the price tag is $5.7 billion. That's a lot, but — pssssst — that only buys a starter wall of 230 miles, covering barely a tenth of our 2,000-mile Mexican border. The dirty little secret is that the full barricade Trump wants will cost us at least $25 billion — for something that isn't needed and won't work.
Question 2. By shutting down the government of the United States in a petulant attempt to make Congress pony up his wall money, isn't he hurting families who come to tour the capital city, hoping to visit the Smithsonian, the National Zoo, the Air and Space Museum and other iconic national treasures? Yes, but — pssssst — there is one exception. The clock tower of the historic 1899 Old Post Office got a special reprieve from the National Park Service to remain open to tourists throughout the presidential shutdown. Why this one exception? Because the president is Donald Trump. In 2014, he converted the Old Post Office into one of his luxury hotels, and closing the clock tower would be ... well, bad for business. Indeed, even the tower's souvenir shop remains open, so tourists can stock up on Trump chocolates, hoodies and other merchandise.
Question 3. Where is this president's empathy for our federal workers? Trump has said that he empathizes with the hundreds of thousands of government workers whose paychecks he suspended, because he has suffered, too. But — pssssst — before consoling the poor president, note that his pain differs from the financial squeeze other federal employees have endured. He tweeted on Christmas Eve, "I'm all alone (poor me) in the White House waiting on the Democrats to come back and make a deal." He later tweeted of the furloughed workers, "I don't care that most of the workers not getting paid are Democrats."
This guy is a public menace, so let's move him permanently to his Mar-a-Largo golf resort in Florida — and build a beautiful impenetrable wall around it.
(Jim Hightower has been called American's most popular populist. The radio commentator and former Texas Commissioner of Agriculture is author of seven books, including "There's Nothing In the Middle of Road but Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos" and his new work, "Swim Against the Current: Even Dead Fish Can Go With The Flow".)