In bragging about his truth-telling, former president Barack Obama delivered his biggest whopper yet.
“Unlike some, I actually try to state facts. I believe in facts,” Obama said Monday during a Las Vegas rally. “I believe in a fact-based reality and a fact-based politics. I don’t believe in just making stuff up. I think you should, like, actually say to people what’s true.”
Obama never mentioned President Donald Trump’s name, but it was a clear swipe at the president. There’s plenty of room to critique Trump’s truthfulness. Put him in front of a crowd and a camera — or alone with his Twitter account — and there’s no telling what will come next. He’s an entertainer with an enormous ego, a shaky grasp of policy details and a habit of buttering up people, even evil dictators, with whom he wants to negotiate. That’s not a recipe for accuracy.
Obama’s recollection of his own presidency, however, is far from “a fact-based reality.” Start with his assertion that you should “say to people what’s true.” When selling Obamacare in 2009, he repeatedly said, “If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan.”
That key promise helped pass Obamacare, and he repeated that line for years. It was also false. Millions of people had their insurance canceled. A NBC investigation found the Obama administration knew as early as July 2010 that Obamacare would cancel 40 to 67 percent of existing individual plans. Obama also promised his health care proposal would save the average family $2,500 a year. Instead, it more than doubled insurance premiums while increasing deductibles. So much for “fact-based politics.”
Obama’s administration built his Iran deal on deception. The administration didn’t disclose side deals it had with the Iranians. Obama administration officials misled Congress about its efforts to give the Iranians access to U.S. banks. Obama’s deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes even bragged to The New York Times Magazine about manipulating reporters who “literally know nothing.” He detailed how the administration “created an echo chamber” to push the deal.
The inspector general found Obama was dishonest when he told the American people that he learned about Hillary Clinton’s private email account from the media. Obama had previously emailed her non-governmental account.
His administration wasn’t forthcoming about selling guns to Mexican drug cartels. One of those guns fired the bullet that killed U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. In 2014, he defended the IRS from charges that it targeted conservative groups, saying there wasn’t “even a smidgen of corruption.” In 2017, the IRS reached a settlement with — and even apologized to — conservative groups that had sued.
Obama once asserted the United States had the highest homicide rates — “by like a mile” — in the industrial world. Even The Washington Post’s fact checker concluded this was “factually incorrect.”
Obama’s untruths don’t justify Trump’s — or vice versa. But it’s best not to wrap your criticism of someone else’s dishonesty in your own falsehoods.