Well. That happened.
As promised, President Donald Trump gave the first Oval Office address of his presidency on Tuesday night, demanding once again that America wall itself off from Mexico as a solution to what he falsely deemed an immigration “crisis.”
The speech, reportedly authored by the White House’s top white nationalist Stephen Miller was much like the President himself: Short, brutal, and full of racist lies.
The speech—of the president’s sniffy “gotta act like a serious leader” sort—was heavy on widely debunked fear-mongering. Drugs, human trafficking, and criminal violence—all the fault of undocumented immigrants, according to Trump, who made a point of co-opting people of color to aid in his argument by claiming that they are particularly harmed by undocumented immigration. Never mind that, as many pointed out quickly, he was talking nonsense.
And then: The wall.
Insisting that the wall would stem the tide of drug smuggling (never mind the fact that the majority of illegal drugs flowing into this country come through established ports of entry), Trump busted out some of his greatest Twitter hits: rich people have walls around their homes; undocumented immigrants are gruesome murderers who kill police officers. Much of it was stuff he’d said before. This time, however, it was being broadcast into millions of homes on every major television network.
“How much more American blood must we shed before congress does its job?” Trump asked, echoing his inauguration speech vow to end “American carnage.”
“This is a choice between right and wrong. Justice and injustice,” he added later, demanding that in order to reopen the government, Democrats must agree to pay over $5 billion for the wall, which he bizarrely said would ultimately paid “indirectly” by Mexico through a new trade deal. Even that was not true.
Here is Trump’s full speech:
Trump’s speech was followed by an even shorter one from Democratic congressional leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. Huddled together over a single podium, and looking almost comically stern, Pelosi and Schumer rejected Trump’s demands.
Schumer did stress that Democrats want “stronger border security,” as if to emphasize that they share many of Trump’s policy goals on immigration, just not his most ridiculous one.
It was, in short, all a huge waste of everyone’s time, and the shutdown is no closer to being solved than it ever was.
Update, 9:50 p.m. ET: This blog has been updated with more comments from the Democratic response and more fact checks of Trump’s speech.