Editor’s Note: Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is the host of SiriusXM radio’s daily program “The Dean Obeidallah Show” and a columnist for The Daily Beast. Follow him @DeanObeidallah. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own.
Even the harshest critics of Donald Trump have to concede that the President excels at one thing – lying. And he does so far more than his predecessor ever dared to. As the Washington Post recently quantified, Trump has served up over 3,000 lies or misleading statements since taking office, which comes out to a dizzying rate of 6.5 every single day.
In fact, on Friday when Trump gave an interview to Fox News on the White House lawn, he served up a buffet of lies – including one that would make Pinocchio blush. While on his favorite network, Trump falsely claimed that the immoral and inhumane policy of separating children from their parents who cross the border illegally was a “Democrat’s law.” In reality, it is not a law, but a policy of zero tolerance that the Trump administration introduced this year and one which Trump certainly has the power to change.
Despite Trump’s well-documented lies, former Trump strategist Steve Bannon said Sunday on ABC that Trump has never lied. When pressed by the host “You think the President’s never lied?,” Bannon responded: “Not to my knowledge, no. Except when he called me Sloppy Steve.” (Bannon deserves an award for keeping a straight face while saying that!)
Some Republicans, like Rick Santorum, can acknowledge Trump lies at an alarming rate, and yet still defend some of his lies by contrasting them to the Obama presidency. “I think the substance of the previous president’s lies were much more important than the substance of what the crowd size was at the inaugural.” If Trump’s only lie was about the crowd size at his inauguration, that argument might have some credibility. But, in reality, Trump has told numerous lies since then – and several to justify his deeply troubling policies, including his Friday remarks on his zero-tolerance policy.
And I’ve heard a similar defense from many Trump supporters who call my SiriusXM radio show to counter my documenting of Trump’s lies. Most who call argue that while Trump might have lied, Obama was a bigger liar. For evidence, they generally point to the “big lie” that in their view equals all of Trump’s. What was that? Well, it was when Obama declared numerous times that: “If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan.”
It’s true that Obama repeatedly made that statement back in 2009 and 2010 when trying to build support for the Affordable Care Act. And there’s no denying that once the law was implemented years later, approximately 4 million Americans were notified that they could no longer keep their plan – myself being one of them.
Now did Obama know that would happen when he made those statements in 2009 and 2010? It’s tough to say. (Personally, I don’t believe so.) But, in any event, the non-partisan fact checkers at Politifact rated that statement as a “pants on fire” lie. In fact, they dubbed that Obama remark as “lie of the year” for 2013.
But let’s compare all the times Politifact deemed Obama’s statements “pants on fire” lies versus Trump’s. Between Obama’s first campaign in 2008 through 2016, Politifact found Obama made nine statements they deemed as major lies. Besides the “you can keep your plan” comment, some of the other objectively false comments include one from the 2012 presidential campaign where Obama declared that his then-GOP opponent Mitt Romney “backed a bill that outlaws all abortions, even in cases of rape and incest.” (Romney actually supported abortion in case of rape and incest.) Another falsehood occurred during the 2008 campaign when an Obama campaign ad contended that his GOP opponent John McCain endorsed Rush Limbaugh’s hate-filled comments about Latino immigrants. (In reality, McCain had not expressly endorsed Limbaugh’s views on immigration.)
So, what about Trump? Well, from the time Trump descended the Trump Tower escalator in June 2015 to launch his campaign until today – a three-year period – Politifact documented 78 “pants on fire” lies.
In less than a quarter of the time of Obama, Trump has given eight times more lies and counting. A few of Trump’s biggest whoppers include Trump’s claim during the campaign that “crime was rising,” to his false statement that there was “serious voter fraud” in the 2016 election to his recent lie that the 2018 budget included the first raise for the military in ten years.
And that doesn’t even include the other 182 “false” statements and the 124 “mostly false” ones that Trump has told to the American people as documented by Politifact. Trump really should work on a new book titled, “The Art of the Lie.”
Given all this, it would be insulting to say that Obama lied just as much as Trump did. And considering how much Trump seems obsessed with besting Obama, Trump should be happy that he finally did in one category – lying.