Virtually Everything Trump Told you About the Border is a Lie | Opinion

A dictator in an orange jumpsuit once confided in me with one of the aphorisms he had understood about power and politics: "You have to create a problem in order to solve it." The aspiring political theorist was Manuel Antonio Noriega, the deposed Panamanian general. The general, who died in 2017, was serving a 30-year federal prison term in Florida at the time on conspiracy charges.

Donald Trump, that most inept would-be strongman, might appreciate the phrase, though not knowing its origin. Fabrication and conspiracy are hallmarks of Trump's leadership.

"This American carnage stops right here and stops right now," Trump said in his inaugural speech in 2017. "Weird shit," former president George W. Bush was heard to remark on the dais.

The excrement and lies were followed by a storm of the same consistency, a president spouting offal at a rate of seven to a dozen lies a day.

But this week, speaking to the American people in his first speech to the nation from the Oval Office, Trump was unable to use lies to solve his problem. The Washington Post fact-checker found six fibs in the eight minutes of his prime-time address. A majority of Americans, led by Nancy Pelosi, the new Speaker of the House, were having none of it.

Trump declared a crisis where there is none, claimed that illegal drugs and violence are products of an open border. The truth is that most drugs enter the country by air and on ships at under-protected ports of entry. As for violence, Trump used scare tactics with a few flagrant cases involving illegal aliens, yet statistics show the crime rate among immigrants is far lower than among native-born Americans.

Trump's support for such fraud remains with the one-third of Americans who are his acolytes, and the Republican U.S. Senators who fear the power of that group. Otherwise, the answer comes from a frightening new force that Trump can neither intimidate nor tear down: Nancy Pelosi, who says the American people do not want his wall—the answer is no!

Yes, there is a humanitarian crisis on the border—a concept purely in the realm of Noriega's aphorism: create the problem, then try to solve it. The crisis is Trump's own creation. There is no danger on the border; we witness only the flight of poor people in search of freedom presented as a menace, amounting to a national emergency.

Trump's speech from the Oval Office did nothing to solve the problem of his own device. His claims were offensive. He blamed Democrats for the overflowing detention camps close to the border, even though only he is responsible for that chaos. Border agents have wrenched hundreds of migrating children from their mothers and fathers, some lost forever, forced them into underserved camps. Recently, two children have died in U.S. custody, a stain on our sense of human decency.

Trump even knew he was on a fool's errand. He had told news anchors hours before the televised speech that he had not wanted to do it in the first place. Unseen hands had convinced him to speak out against his better judgement, clearly a tactical mistake. Americans saw a feeble example of a president, reading from a teleprompter in a halting monotone, stumbling and beginning to snort and swallow before it was over.

We sought to look into the eyes of the man seated behind the Resolute Desk, and ask: can we believe you; what problems can you solve on our behalf? But his squinting eyes looked askance, reduced to slits, unfathomable. Absent his rally stage and the ability to ramble with a flourish to his acolytes, this was a bit of the wizard stripped of his curtain.

A man who was light years brighter than Trump and Noriega and most of us, Albert Einstein by name, knew the answer to such a question: "We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them."

Look into Trump's vacant eyes and you will know—"the solution lies elsewhere, once you are gone."

Peter Eisner, journalist and author, co-wrote with Michael D'Antonio the book The Shadow President: The Truth About Mike Pence.

The views expressed in this article are the author's own.​​​​​

Virtually Everything Trump Told you About the Border is a Lie | Opinion | Opinion