Once upon a time, in a place called America, there was a lovely spot known as the White House Rose Garden. And the leaders of this mystical land came to this scenic location when they wanted to deliver particularly important or visionary statements to the people. And everyone was happy.
Okay, that last sentence may not be strictly true. However, everyone was a good deal happier than before Donald Trump chose to make the Rose Garden his go-to location for pumping out lies about a devastating pandemic, defending white nationalism, and just crapping all over regulations against campaigning on federal property. In all honesty, it’s not even clear what Trump came to the Rose Garden to talk about on Tuesday afternoon, because he spent so much time lashing out at Biden that any other theme was lost. That smell? That’s not roses. It’s the mingled scents of raw bullshit and pure panic.
If there was a major theme to Trump’s appearance on Tuesday it was this: Look how disconnected I am from facts. It’s not really fair to say that Trump’s latest Rose Garden address represented a psychotic break with reality. It was more a … scatological break. Trump simply could not stop making sh#t up. Then more. Then even more. When, after about 45 minutes, Trump finally stopped with the statement “We could go on for days,” it seemed like he already had been going on for days.
Theoretically, in the notes sent out to the White House press pool, this was to be an address about the situation in Hong Kong, and Trump did linger there for all of the two minutes it took to read a prepared statement. Then he was off to criticizing Joe Biden’s introduction of his plan to build the economy and address climate change. That, predictably, turned into a trip to Ukraine where Trump repeated the same lies that got him impeached and tossed off a “Where is Hunter?” Because, sure, that’s what matters.
But before that deep philosophical question could be addressed, Trump zigzagged into the stock market (Trump make good, Democrats make not good) and somehow came out in what appeared to be claims about the 2009 H1N1 flu epidemic … though it was momentarily difficult to tell since Trump’s claims bore no relationship to actual events. Somewhere in the middle of that, he paused to insult Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders and Nancy Pelosi, all of whom are apparently telling Biden what to do. Next stop: Maine, where Trump once again claimed to have saved the lobster industry despite not doing a damn thing about the lobster industry. Somehow that fed into Trump’s continued claims that voting by mail will lead to widespread fraud, backed up by a claim that “a mailman was indicted someplace.” Then there was something about European criminals. I genuinely didn’t understand that part at all.
Somewhere in all this, Trump explained how Democratic mayors “wouldn’t mind” if terrorists blow up our cities. I don’t remember how he got there.
While lashing out at Biden, Trump claimed that the Democratic nominee would outlaw windows in homes. “I’m not making this up!” said Trump. (Spoiler: he was making this up.) Biden apparently also wants to “abolish prisons” along with the police and the military.
And, to provide the slightest bit of connective tissue to the Hong Kong issue, Trump claimed that, "Joe Biden's entire career has been a gift to the Chinese Communist Party" and that Biden had allowed the Chinese to “pillage” America’s “most precious secrets.” Also, of course, Hunter Biden, something, something.
Overall, in what was supposed to be a statement about China suppressing democracy in Hong Kong, Trump mentioned China about half a dozen times—and at least three of those times were among the 30+ claims he hurled at Biden. Included was a claim by Trump that, “Biden personally led the effort to give China permanent most-favored nation status, which is a tremendous advantage for a country to have. Few countries have it. But the United States doesn’t have it, never did, probably never even asked for it because they didn’t know what they were doing.” If you’re scoring that statement, it’s a lie about Biden, a lie about what favored nation status is, and a lie about the United States having that status. The U. S. enjoys most-favored nation status with every nation in the World Trade Organization, with the sole exception of Cuba. China’s most-favored nation status was awarded by George W. Bush.
On the H1N1 flu front, Trump was mostly focused on the topic he finds the most important part of any subject: the ratings. “If you look at the job he did on swine flu, “ said Trump. “I looked at a poll, they have polls on everything nowadays, and he … they got very bad marks on the job they did on the swine flu. H1N1. He calls it N1H1. H1N1. Got very poor marks from Gallup on the job they did on swine flu. And they stopped very early on, testing.” First off, the Gallup poll scored President Obama at 67% approval for his handling of the H1N1 outbreak. Second, not only did the CDC under Obama get test kits out to states within two weeks, it delivered a million tests at a point when there were fewer than 50 known cases. A high level of testing continued right through the deployment of vaccines, starting just seven months after the first identified case, and continued into the next year.
But there was one thing in the WTF-athon speech which was accurate. “There's never been a time when two candidates were so different,” said Trump. Yes. One of the candidates exists on this plane of reality.