In Patton Oswalt’s latest standup special on Netflix, he described the challenges of covering Donald Trump’s presidency as a comedian. He observed that as soon as he develops a joke about something Trump has said or done, it’s almost immediately old news, replaced by whatever the newest crazy thing might be.
Those of us covering Trump for a living feel Patton’s pain. In other words, Patton said, it’s like seeing a crazy person on the street playing with his own shit, then, as he turns to describe the crazy man to his friends, they interrupt to say the crazy guy has sculpted his shit into a sombrero.
It’s impossible to keep up.
So, please indulge me as I cover a Trump quote from Tuesday, which now seems like a million years ago, buried beneath a slagheap of other toxic wads of insanity fired from Trump’s indefatigable tennis ball machine. The reason I’m rewinding back in time to the olden days of, you know, yesterday, is because we didn’t really have a chance to absorb something Trump said about the Affordable Care Act, and I think we need to pause for a second to take a closer look.
Here’s the quote: “Obamacare is finished. It’s dead. It’s gone. You shouldn’t even mention it. It’s gone. There is no such thing as Obamacare anymore. I said this years ago. It’s a concept that couldn’t have worked. In its best days it couldn’t have worked.”
Trump: "Obamacare is finished, it's dead, it's gone..You shouldn't even mention it. It's gone. There is no such thing as Obamacare anymore" pic.twitter.com/sAkylaXPlA
— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) October 16, 2017
Now, this isn’t the first time he’s called the death of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). On other occasions, he’s mentioned how premiums and deductibles are “going through the roof.” For example:
Deductibles and premiums, eh? Funny thing for Trump to say just days after he rescinded cost-sharing reimbursements (CSRs) to health insurers to help cover low income deductibles and co-pays, thus driving up premiums by 20 percent higher than the normal annual jump in premiums. Simply put: Trump’s words don’t match his actions. Shocker. Say it with me now: Trump knows nothing, and words have no meaning. He barely understands how a bill becomes a law, and clearly has zero knowledge of how healthcare works. Jesus, he needed three tries to correctly spell “hereby”
But none of that matters, and this is the point.
Everyone’s talking about Trump’s lack of accomplishments, as if that means anything to his whiny, brainwashed minions. The sad truth is that he doesn’t need to accomplish a goddamn thing as long as he says he’s accomplishing more than any other president ever. Indeed, he said the other day, “In fact, in nine months, we have done more, they say, than any president in history, and we’re nine months. And there’s more to come.” That’s literally all he has to do — to say it. And his people will believe it, and then they’ll skulk to their Twitter feeds and Facebook walls to repeat this complete and verifiable nincompoopery.
This means he doesn’t actually have to repeal Obamacare in the traditional legislative sense. All he has to do is to declare it dead and, from this point forward, he can tell his cult-like rally crowds, Mission accomplished! I did it! I repealed Obamacare! We’ve seen this before. Trump is taking daily credit for the stock market, even though the Dow is merely continuing its upward trajectory from the Obama years. Same goes for jobs and other economic indicators.
Reality is irrelevant. For the president’s disciples, if it doesn’t fart its way out of Trump’s overly articulated anal orifice, it’s fake news. Trump and his parrots at Fox News are the only sources of real news, and whatever they say is golden. So, if Trump says Obamacare is dead, it must be dead, even though it’s not.
But that’s not the really bad part.
Shit like this tends to bleed into the heads of Normals who simply don’t follow politics with the same obsessive regularity as you and me. Casual observers might accidentally think Trump accomplished X or Y, simply through osmosis. A headline here. A mention of it around the water cooler. A video clip while flipping through channels. At the very least, Trump’s artificial reality helps to chip away at actual reality enough for some semi-disengaged voters to grow frustrated enough to say, “Both sides are hysterical, and both sides have a point. Fuck it.” And when that happens, reality loses.
Trump is bad at most things. He doesn’t retain facts. He barely constructs complete sentences. He repeats himself like a little boy repeating a complicated joke. He doesn’t think about the future, such as the fact that his CSR decision will, according to the CBO, explode the deficit by $200 billion and drive up premiums by at least 20 percent — for everyone, regardless of Obamacare usage. But one thing he’s good at is harnessing his talent for lying to manipulate the news cycle to his advantage. He knows that his people will accept everything his says without double-checking the facts. He knows Fox News viewers will never hear about any damaging stories.
In this regard, he can get away with anything, therefore it’s incumbent on the rest of us to tenaciously reinforce the facts. He can’t be allowed to get away with it. They say lies have speed but the truth has endurance. Let’s hope the maxim is true.
And now, I need to go a find out what style of hat-made-of-shit Trump is wearing now. I bet it’s a pointy hood this time.