It might seem an odd thing to look forward to, but the email update from The Washington Post is usually worth a look. It’s good to see a snatch of sober commentary from the US.
Recently, the headline in the email contained a word to cherish: “Trumpless” – used in connection with Donald Trump staying away from Davos for the latest World Economic Forum. That glowed in my mind for a while, a little coal of optimism.
Oh, to be in that prelapsarian state of a Trumpless world. Well, I guess we were hardly innocent and unspoilt before Trump arrived, but there is still a sense of having fallen somehow.
One of the important tasks the Post performs is to run a fact-checking service on everything Trump says.
In has long been a tradition of American newspapers that the journalists work alongside fact-checkers, who sift their words into a sort of truth flour. Such a notion would seem odd to British journalists, especially on some national titles, where ‘facts’ are whatever the editor decrees them to be.
US TV and radio stations, on the other jabbing hand, can be as partisan as they like.
The Post’s fact-checking service measures all the statements Trump makes against a truth ruler. The journalists in that department are kept busy, chasing all the ‘facts’ that run away from Trump like rats out of an upturned golf bag.
And those truth-seekers have been busy overnight, checking the key claims in Trump’s second State of the Union address – a sort of constitutional to-do list, in which a president lays outs upcoming measures before Congress. Or, in Trump’s case, lays his brags out in a row.
There isn’t time or space to list all the findings, but here are three.
Trump: “The lawless state of our southern border is a threat to the safety, security and financial well-being of all Americans. We have a moral duty to create an immigration system that protects the lives and jobs of our citizens.”
The Post: “By any available measure, there is no new security crisis at the border…”
Trump: “Meanwhile, working-class Americans are left to pay the price for mass illegal migration — reduced jobs, lower wages, overburdened schools, hospitals so crowded you can’t get in, increased crime, and a depleted social safety net.”
The Post: Trump exaggerates the link between immigration and crime; almost all research shows legal and illegal immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than the native-born population…
Trump: “And now, for the first time in 65 years, we are a net exporter of energy.”
The Post: The United States has exported more energy than it has imported since 2015. Trump overstates the impact of his energy policy.
If you have the time, it’s worth looking at the full list of checked facts and untruths poked with a sharp stick.
Away from that, Trump’s address was as divisive as ever, calling for unity and bipartisanship, while continuing to shove his own agenda down everyone’s throats. That man does like to have his cake, eat it – and then spit the crumby mess in his opponents’ faces.
Is that last image a fact? Oh, over to you.
Is the world yet Trumpless? Sadly, that’s not a fact.