“The Black Guy Did It!”

Have you noticed that whenever there is a particularly sharp public outcry over something Donald Trump is doing–a level of pushback that exceeds the expressions of distaste, disagreement and/or horror that regularly greet his version of “policy”–he blames whatever it is on Obama?

The Washington Post gives four Pinocchios to the latest example of Trump’s “don’t blame me, it was the black guy who did it” evasion, his insistence that his inhumane and illegal family separation policy was really Obama’s. They quote him:

“President Obama had child separation. Take a look. The press knows it, you know it, we all know it. I didn’t have — I’m the one that stopped it. President Obama had child separation. … President Obama separated children. They had child separation. I was the one that changed it, okay?”

Trump keeps doubling down on that falsehood. Every time he is attacked about family separation, he repeats it. As the Post reports,

This is a Four Pinocchio claim, yet Trump keeps repeating it when he’s pressed on family separations.

Repetition can’t change reality. There is simply no comparison between Trump’s family separation policy and the border enforcement actions of the Obama and George W. Bush administrations.

In the article, the fact-checker reports that the Obama Administration had actually rejected such a proposal, and that neither the Obama Administration nor the Bush Administration had created or enforced a policy of family separation.

The zero-tolerance approach is worlds apart from the Obama- and Bush-era policy of separating children from adults at the border only in limited circumstances, such as when officials suspected human trafficking or another kind of danger to the child or when false claims of parentage were made.

The article concludes with quotes from Trump–responses to questions, tweets, etc.–documenting the number of times he repeated the lie that the policy was inherited from Obama, and the article links to the copious database of Trump lies that the newspaper maintains.

This particular falsehood illustrates the two utterly reliable aspects of the man who inexplicably occupies the Oval Office: his hatred of Barack Obama (how dare a black man be so obviously superior to him?) and people of color generally; and his inability to tell the truth. (I’m not sure he even recognizes the difference between objective facts and his preferred fantasies.)

The problem is, as Joseph Stiglitz has  recently reminded us,  America’s successes–both moral and economic–have rested on a process of experimentation, learning and adaptation that requires a commitment to ascertaining the truth.

Americans owe much of their economic success to a rich set of truth-telling, truth-discovering and truth-verifying institutions. Central among them are freedom of expression and media independence. Like all people, journalists are fallible; but, as part of a robust system of checks and balances on those in positions of power, they have traditionally provided an essential public good.

America’s “greatness” has depended upon–and varied with– the extent to which the nation has adhered to that truth-telling and has honored human rights and the rule of law. Greatness is not a product of bluster, or White Supremacy, or faux Christianity, or the worship of wealth and power and celebrity; it is a product of evidence-based allegiance to individual liberty and civic equality.

If we really want to make America great, we need to eject Trumpism, with its racism and “alternate facts,” not just from the White House, but from American culture.


  1. All you cite is true and yet Trump still maintains an unbelievable level of support. Maybe the voting public can’t deal with facts or the truth. Just close your eyes, hold your nose and nod when he tweets and everything will be alright.

  2. Recall that the Republican icon, Ronald Reagan, repeatedly told the story of the black, welfare recipient in Chicago who ate lobster and drove a Cadillac even after being told (and told) it wasn’t true. Perhaps lying is in the Republican DNA?

  3. “If we really want to make America great, we need to eject Trumpism, with its racism and “alternate facts,” not just from the White House, but from American culture.”

    As long as Mitch McConnell is the “man behind that curtain”, Trump and Trumpism will remain in control It would take the majority of the Senate to remove him, as it did John Boehner, maybe the bigger mystery is WHY the majority of the Senate support McConnell who supports Trump and keeps him in office as he prevents the Senate from fulfilling their responsibilities as set in Section 1 of the Constitution. McConnell is Trump’s armor; find a chip in his armor and the Senate just might go into action…and the House is sure to follow.

  4. “If we really want to make America great, we need to eject Trumpism, with its racism and “alternate facts,” not just from the White House, but from American culture.”

    I’m afraid that Trumpism in our government isn’t just confined to the White House, and not just to the federal government. We can’t rid ourselves of that disease until the culture change is successful. And I’m also afraid we’ve slipped too far into our dystopia to make that happen.

  5. While the Pathological Liar in Chief continuously creates chaos and upheaval corporate executives everywhere are paying off members of the Senate and House to dismantle pesky safety regulations that took decades to create. The destruction taking place is beyond the pale.

  6. There are a lot of reasons for the continued support of Trump by the Republican Party. They stick by him because he is rewarding the doners who pay for the services of Republican Congressmen and Senators. Without that money pouring into their coffers, it would be impossible to hold onto their elected positions. And Lordy, they want to keep those positions, what with all of those perks and all.

    For the rank and file it is another matter. It is a closed minded adherence to the myth of a “Christian” America, a “white” America, an America that will give you all that you seek if only you work hard enough. That myth has been perpetrated through the decades, reinforced by hate talk radio, FOX News and the ult-right. “If you, as a white man, cannot get what you want, it must be someone else’s fault.”

    It takes a lot of hard work to dig a ditch. It takes more hard work, a work of another kind, to open your mind and change your thinking.

  7. The whole point of telling the lie over and over is that, eventually, it becomes true in the minds of his listeners. I’ll guarantee that most of his 40% absolutely believe it.

    On another very critical item, we haven’t yet discussed the appointments of Stephen Moore and Herman Cain to the Federal Reserve Board. I know several of our regulars on this blog don’t have any love for the Fed, but it is critical to our economic system that the Fed members be knowledgeable about monetary policy and how it works. Is there anybody out there who feels we should be on the gold standard? Can we please resurrect William Jennings Bryan to discuss that with Mr. Cain? Perhaps the ghost of Andrew Jackson whispers to 45 late at night telling him to destroy the central bank. If the Senate confirms these two clowns, they are beyond rehabilitation.

  8. Let’s say some 35 year old man and woman show up with a fourteen year old girl. There has to be a way to find out if this girl is theirs if only for a few hours of questioning. Congress needs to act in such a way to stop sex trafficking, and keep families”together” especially young kids.
    The real problem we have is that neither side is wanting to come to a real solution. The reason we see Trump saying things like this is distract people from his policy continuing it to meet his goals regardless of the cost to those who cross the border illegally. Some even think this is good management. Politicians are now stating we need to turn over the whole medical system to a Medicare type coverage but Bernie says you can’t have open borders we can’t afford it. It takes a bipartisan solution.
    Many businesses are leaving California due to what a white guy did. Reagan when agreed to creating citizenship for anyone crossing over into California.
    When Trump says the black guy did it outright you’ll see people disown him. His tactics aren’t agreeable to say the least, atleast he could say Obama didn’t thoroughly do his job as President so I’m using loopholes he left open to create a policy that even some border agents used sparingly.

  9. I don’t think using cutesy phrases like “four Pinocchios” helps. That really makes things seem less awful than they are. Perhaps things like this should simply be reported as “lies”.

    Or, “easily verifiable, complete and total lies” with links to the facts showing these are lies.

    “12.5 twinkle berries” isn’t much of a system.

  10. Much to my chagrin I will not see the kind of cultural change that America needs in my lifetime. Trumpism has reversed a trend that was heading toward tolerance and acceptance . Tolerance and acceptance of those who don’t look like us, don’t think like us, don’t live like us and don’t have the same beliefs as us. Trumpism has created a population of Americans who will publicly admit that his policies are hurting them and in the next breath admit that they still support him. Some say it is the stock market. Some say it’s about abortion. Some say it’s because he is tough. But…the big issue is the wall. We know this because it is what Trump will do anything and everything to make it happen . He is even willing to break laws to make this happen. The wall is not about drugs or crimes. America is not full. This is about hate and hate dies slowly or never dies.

  11. ALL you cite is a lie. I have seen videos of Obama stating that he would CONTINUE the practice of family separation , and an interview with Hillary by ABC, ( I believe) that she favors family separation , and will continue it if elected. When ever a detractor points hes/her finger at Trump, they always point 3 fingers back at THEMSELVES.

  12. Hitler and his propaganda chief, Dr. Goebbels, agreed that if you tell a lie long enough it becomes truth which, by the way, is a driving force behind modern day advertising with its repetitious delivery of the same ads, day in and day out. Apparently Trump has some forty percent of Americans convinced in re family separation at the border that “the black guy did it,” which is both a lie and a cover in the finest tradition of Hitler-Goebbels, since even if the black guy did come up with such an inhumane policy of family separation at our southern border (which he did not), that is no excuse for its continuation.

    Trump lies to divert attention from his own conduct in a process composed of shifting blame and fault projection. For instance, when confronted with his sexual antics he blurts “Well, look what Bill did!” as though such comparison exonerates his own conduct. Trump in his narcissistic state has fashioned an Otherworld in which he can make up his own facts to suit his own ends. The problem is when he brings such alternative facts and conclusions into our world for application. He does this by lying which, along with bluster and bullying, gives him a bridge between his Otherworld and the one we inhabit, and such imports leave us open-mouthed and in awe of his chutzpah, reeling in disbelief, and contributing to the chaos he is deliberately inciting which is designed to provide the environment to have us ultimately acquiesce in Bannon’s admittedly Leninist view of “deconstruction of the administrative state” (aka destruction of our democracy) followed by, of course, authoritarianism.

    Not on my watch, since an America without democracy (or what is left of it after Trump) is not the America millions have bled and died for, from Bunker Hill to Afghanistan, and continuing, since as I often write, democracy is the most precious asset we hold in common, and one of the last few things left worth dying for.

  13. Mark – You are misinformed. There is family separation and there is family separation. The family separation you refer to was limited to cases where fraud or crime was involved or thought to be involved and was limited in time. Trump’s view of family separation is general; i.e., all families coming across the border are illegal aliens and subject to separation. He is using a machete rather than a scalpel. Those lawfully seeking asylum are not illegal aliens; they are rather protected by law. They may or may not gain asylum, but that’s not the point. We need to ferret out the fraudulent and criminal and yes, separate families pending investigation and review, and do so quickly so that such separations are short or alternatively, that the fraudulent and the criminal are jailed or expelled, or whatever the applicable calls for.

  14. There are “black guys” that “the others” like: Clarence Thomas, Ben Carson, Herman Cain. They certainly have something in common besides the color of their skin…

  15. Refugees, asylum seekers, migrants what ever you want to call them have become a disturbance that cannot be ignored world wide. This idea that this problem is a result of President Agent Orange is bogus.

    The USA since it’s War in Southeast Asia in the 1960’s has been responsible for virtually all of the refugee problems in the world since than. The USA has instigated coups, funded Right Wing hit squads in Central America for decades. The chaos and anarchy this has produced is now at our Southern doorstep. The vast majority of Americans are clueless in connecting these dots.

    The same can said in the Middle East as a result of two Gulf Wars, the attempted over throw of the government in Syria and the over throw of Qaddafi in Libya. Millions of displaced people.

  16. It has occurred to me that one of the reasons for the conservative scotoma, blind spot, is that they view the world only down to the level of the tribe and rarely see beyond that except in their own tribe in which they would describe themselves as proud individuals.

    So “immigrants” are a homogeneous tribe as Trump describes them of murderers, rapists, welfare queens, and gang bangers. Muslims, another tribe of mostly extremisists and terrorists. “Blacks” are the tribe within Trump’s white territory who are lazy, criminal, and obviously therefore incapable of producing a ruler better than he.

    Thank God the Mara Lago tribe is here to defend our territory from all of the tribes waiting to conquer it and treat us as we treat them.

    This tribal attitude ruled the world 500 years ago when there were so few of us, and contract between us so minimum, that ignorance of others ruled. It has absolutely no place in the current world or even infinitely more so, the coming world.

  17. While certainly concurring Trump is more odious, no American President since the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (Reagan) can claim the moral high ground on immigration policy.

  18. ML, and not just wars now…we are one of the largest contributors of carbon emissions leading to climate changes which are most severe in other parts of the world and that will only get worse.

    When your economy is profit-seeking only (which most Americans consider economic success with being a success) there will be lots of bad decisions for the public. However, the public doesn’t care as long as the economy is “strong”.

    And thank you, Gerald, for the Hitler reference. As I read the Professor’s post, Joseph Goebbels came to mind more than once. He was the Reich Minister of Propaganda. I’m pretty sure that Trump read parts of Mein Kampf: “I use emotion for the many and reserve reason for the few.”

  19. Trump’s Obama Derangement Syndrome feeds his base the pablum they desire. He must do something like this every day in order to keep their pathetic psychic addiction fed.

    ” (I’m not sure he even recognizes the difference between objective facts and his preferred fantasies.) ” This statement embraces on of the main symptoms of a true psychopath. If you read the clinical list of those symptoms in total, you will find that our “president” is a walking checklist. Our trouble, right now, is that we only see the superficial aspects of his disease. The fear among the pundit class and many others is that when a real crisis hits us, he will go completely off the rails and destroy MUCH MORE than “just” our democracy. Remove him we must. There are ways…

  20. A subject related to Trump (his sister) shows that other members of the Trump family are prone to doing activities proven to be illegal yet profit from those actions.

  21. “Not to indulge in fantasy theories, but I can’t help wondering if Barr has told Trump’s lawyers that the Mueller Report contains findings that could implicate Trump’s sister, a federal judge who abruptly resigned a few days ago, and that that is the reason for her resignation. I also wonder if Barr has told the lawyers for the Kushners that they are similarly implicated and, if so, whether after a suitable delay so as not to arouse suspicion we will be seeing some more resignations shortly.

    Proof? I have none, though I helped pay for Mueller’s Report and would like to read it or at least have it given in unredacted form to my representatives and senators in Washington. In such connection, Barr talks of giving congressional committees the blacked out version “next week,” whenever that is. I don’t know why they can’t have it as Mueller reported it since congressional committees almost daily hear and read classified material. Why is this Report to Congress to be inked out by Trump’s lawyer, aka our AG? What weapons does the Congress have beyond subpoenas and lawsuits? Is Contempt of Congress available, or would a criminal reference of any sort wind up in the dead letter box of a DOJ apparently acting on behalf of Trump rather than the people? What is going on behind the scenes? Will we ever know?

  22. No, we will never know what is going on behind the scenes. What I’d like an answer to from A.G. Barr and others who support the notion that the president is above the law is this: If the president paid a hit man to take out the A.G. because he was pursuing a criminal case against the Trump family, could Mr. Trump be charged with a crime? If the president took a contingent of armed Secret Service agents to the nearest bank and demanded it hand over its cash, could he be tried for that? If the president ordered the Pentagon to drop napalm on a fully occupied Capitol Building, could he be charged for a crime or would we have to await an impeachment? What if there were no one left to bring impeachment charges?

    My point, of course, is that to say that this man, or any man, is above the law is to give him free reign to rape, pillage and plunder. Nothing could be more sinister in a democracy founded on the rule of law. Defending such a self-destructive principle promotes anarchy and something even nastier than autocracy a la Putin.

  23. Just another example of “the big lie”. What the heck, it worked for Adolf.



    If we condemn 45’s lies because they are part of his grand strategy, we cannot LOGICALLY condemn them as a product of some form of insanity, for only a sane mind is capable of grand strategy.

    If we continue to flip-flop and are unable to settle on either insanity or strategy as the driver of his lies, our waffling weakens our case that he needs to be removed.

    If his lies are merely a tool of his strategy, then they are merely political, a device the political Trump believes is needed to achieve his political goals. If that is our conclusion and our hope, then we are left with our own unclean desire to eliminate a certain type of politic from American life, a wish as wrong and illegal as eliminating a certain religion from American life.

    We need to settle on insanity as Trump’s driving force…and nothing else. Never again mention strategy as a Trump skill, vice, tool, thought, or itch.

    Go with our insanity conclusion, and then we need to repeat our claim a billion times, or until the public — the overwhelming masses, including the deplorables — believe it.

  25. Comparing Trump to Hitler is an insult to Hitler. Hitler was not insane and was able to put together a monstrously large and complex strategy.

    Hitler was an evil but sane genius; Trump is an evil and crazy ignoramus. Big difference.

    A better comparison to Trump would be Jeffery Daumier.

  26. Terry – It is for the reasons you set out that I believe a president can be indicted and prosecuted while in office though I usually suggest what would or would not happen with the framing of Trump’s taking a machine gun and gunning down demonstrators at the White House fence followed by a rhetorical question > “Are you telling me we have to wait until this president is out of office before we can prosecute him for these homicides?I don’t believe it.” The old saying that “no man is above the law” should be accompanied by another old saying, that “justice delayed is justice denied.”

  27. In a just universe, Trump and his family would probably end up in jail, and he (and Mitch McConnell) would go down in history as being on par with Benedict Arnold.

    It won’t happen. Well, the history part might.

    Still, people forget that Trump has been talking to his shrinking base who will love him no matter what. Meanwhile, the Democratic candidate will be different this year. Hillary, for all of her many qualifications, was a flawed candidate that ran a flawed campaign. “Isn’t time we had a woman” was never going to convince every woman in America to vote for her. She ignored the rust belt. Too many people stayed home.

    And then there were the Jill Stein/Bernie people. Bernie’s people (if they weren’t Stein people in disguise) should have known one of the reasons for the formation of the Democratic Socialists. We live in a two-party country and if you want to promote change, you better influence one of those two parties – obviously the Democrats. That is where they started, rejecting third parties – and The Other America, by Michael Harrington, a Democratic Socialist co-founder, did inspire LBJ’s War on Poverty. Not a success, but a sign that influence was possible.

  28. Sheila, unrelated to this article…but please write about Julia Assange…it is almost impossible to get a clear objective, honey take on him and his activities… seems like there are arguments that make it not such a black and white case…and you are the only person I trust to give it to us straight!

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