Not such a big deal, really, that for a second there, President Donald Trump thought he was in St. Louis instead of Kansas City. As when he recently called poor incinerated Paradise, California, by the wrong name on a trip to the area — “Pleasure, what a name!” — maybe he’s just checking to see if we’re listening.
A few other counter-factual things the president said on Friday in Kansas City, however, were not slips of the tongue.
1. “I keep listening to the fake news that they (the Democratic Party) won the House, the House, the House. Nobody ever talks about the Senate. In fact, we picked up two (seats), and that hasn’t been done in a long time.”
Two years can seem like a long time, ahem, but the Democratic Party last had a net gain of two seats all the way back in ... 2016. Such swings are in no way unusual. (And don’t tell him while he’s like this, but the Democrats did pick up 40 House seats with the largest margin of victory for a midterm election in either party, breaking the previous post-Watergate record.)
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2. “We lose about 80,000 people a year to fentanyl.” The real number is terrifying enough. But synthetic opioids including fentanyl were responsible for a record 30,000 deaths in the U.S. last year, out of a total of 72,000 overdoses of all kinds.
3. Immigration agents are working “to get some of the world’s most violent criminals off our streets, and we get ‘em the hell out of our country. Since I took office, (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agents have arrested over 235,000 aliens with criminal records. Think of that.”
The president hars said this before, but there’s still no number that corresponds to that in ICE statistics. Some 226,000 undocumented immigrants were deported last year, but 127,000 of those had a criminal record. The trend is actually moving away from prioritizing the arrest of those the president calls “bad hombres.” Over the first 14 months of the Trump administration, 69 percent of the undocumented immigrants arrested by ICE agents had a criminal record. In the final two years of the Obama administration, it was 86 percent of arrestees.
4. Heroin coming across our Southern border “cost our country $238 billion in 2016 alone, and we’re talking about a wall for $20 billion, $15 billion ... You’d make it up in a month by having a proper wall.”
Three days earlier, the president said we could make up the difference in two months, so maybe wait and see what next week will bring?
A study out of the University of Chicago last year found that heroin use cost us as a society about $51 billion in the last year for which data was available, 2015.
And it’s hard to see how the wall would stop heroin from being smuggled in from Mexico when, as noted in a Drug Enforcement Administration report last year, most comes in “through U.S. ports of entry ... in passenger vehicles with concealed compartments or commingled with legitimate goods on tractor trailers.”
5. The impression that it’s women and children who are “surging” across our border with Mexico is an illusion that wily photojournalists create: “They put women and children in the front and keep the camera low.”
“I know every trick,” he said, and there’s no disputing that.
Editor’s note: This piece originally misstated the University of Chicago study’s estimate of the cost of heroin use to society. This version of the text has been corrected.