Teresa Hanafin writes the Fast Forward feature for the Boston Globe. Scroll down and learn how you can subscribe:

 

Three things to mull this morning:

Senate Republicans will acquit Trumpthis afternoon of charges that he abused the power of the presidency. Democrats cringe at the word “acquit” because, they say, the Senate didn’t actually hold a real trial since the GOP refused to call witnesses or hear new evidence.

Trump held a fact-challenged, divisive MAGA rally-meets-reality-TV last night in place of his State of the Union speech, with Republicans shouting “four more years” as though they were at an evangelical tent revival.

Trump gave the nation’s highest civilian award — bestowed in the past to people like Mother Teresa and Rosa Parks — to a guy whose racist and misogynistic rants on TV and talk radio have made him a darling of the right. And Trump brazenly did it in the people’s house.


So where to begin? The acquittal has been a foregone conclusion for months, so let’s move on to his MAGA rally. You knew the impeached Trump was going to be aggressively defiant as soon as he refused to shake the hand of Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the House and second in line to the presidency.

News organizations’ fact-checkers say his subsequent speech was replete with misinformation and lies, many designed to portray himself as the best president in history. And his continued obsession with bettering Barack Obama is really sad. A few corrections:

Trump: “I am thrilled to report to you tonight that our economy is the best it has ever been.”
Truth: Sorry, bucko, it’s not. Trump’s annual economic growth rate hasn’t yet surpassed 3 percent, but there have been many, many years in the recent past when GDP grew more than that, including 1950, 1951, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1997, 1998, 1999 — well, you get the idea. The 3.5 percent unemployment rate is not the lowest in history; for example, it was 2.5 percent in 1953.

Trump: “Since my election, we have created 7 million new jobs.”
Truth: It’s actually 6.7 million jobs since he took office, but who’s counting? (Certainly not Trump.) In the last three years of the Obama administration, more than 8 million jobs were created.

Trump: “Thanks to our bold regulatory reduction campaign, the United States has become the number one producer of oil and natural gas anywhere in the world.”
Truth: The US became the world’s top energy producer under Obama in 2012.

Trump: “From the instant I took office, I moved rapidly to revive the U.S. economy … enacting historic and record-setting tax cuts.”
Truth: Trump’s tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations were not the largest in history; they were only the eighth-largest in the past century.

Trump: “This is a blue-collar boom.”
Truth: Manufacturing is officially in a recession, and job growth in transportation, construction, and mining has dropped. Oops!

Trump: “Everybody said that criminal justice reform couldn’t be done, but I got it done and the people in this room got it done.”
Truth: I guess he’s hearing voices again, because actually, nobody said that reform couldn’t get done, given that Obama kicked off the effort when he signed the Fair Sentencing Act in August 2010. That repealed the five-year mandatory sentence for first-time offenders and reduced the disparity between the sentences given to those who used powder cocaine (mostly white people) and the much harsher penalties for those who used crack cocaine (mostly Black people).

Trump’s First Step Act builds on that, shortening mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenses and easing the federal “three strikes” rule. However, in his 2020 budget, Trump proposed just $14 million for the act, when the law calls for $75 million.

Okay, I’m done. And exhausted trying to keep up with his mendacious word salads. A disgusted Pelosi ripped up the speech at the end in full view of TV cameras, later saying that Trump “shredded the truth, so I shredded his speech.”

You can read more fact-checking by AP in the Globe, by CNN, by NBC, and by The Washington Post.


Trump’s reality TV showmanship was on full display when he announced that a young girl in the gallery was going to get a coveted school scholarship and reunited a soldier with his family.

But it was his awarding of the Presidential Medal of Freedom to conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh that caused the most uproar. (A smiling and clapping first lady Melania placed the medal around Limbaugh’s neck as Republicans cheered in approval.)

Limbaugh, a cigar smoker, announced the other day that he had advanced lung cancer, years after he repeatedly pooh-poohed the connection between tobacco and cancer, blaming the anti-tobacco “hysteria” on leftwing loons who were part of an anti-corporate conspiracy — similar to what he says today about climate change. Look, nobody wishes such a terrible diagnosis on anyone, and we hope he has either a full recovery or can be made as comfortable as possible if the disease progresses.

But cancer does not erase a lifetime of vile, vulgar, hateful speech.

As much as I dislike repeating any of his comments here, it’s important to know the type of person Trump values.

Limbaugh once told a Black female caller to “Take that bone out of your nose and call me back.” He called Obama a “halfrican American” and liked to play a song on his radio show called “Barack the Magic Negro.” He called for segregated buses when Obama became president, and called Mexicans “stupid and unskilled.”

He said that when a gay person “turns his back on you, it is anything but an insult; it’s an invitation.”

After Michael J. Fox announced he had Parkinson’s disease, Limbaugh claimed the actor, who generally supports Democratic causes, was exaggerating the effects of the disease. “He’s moving all around and shaking and it’s purely an act … This is really shameless … Either he didn’t take his medication or he’s acting.”

When Sandra Fluke, a law student at Georgetown, testified before Congress in favor of mandatory insurance coverage for contraceptives, Limbaugh called her a “slut” and a “prostitute.”

During the Clinton administration, he displayed a photo of 13-year-old Chelsea and called her “a dog.” (Remember the faux outrage from Republicans when an impeachment witness merely mentioned the name of Trump’s son Barron to illustrate the limits of presidential power?)

I wonder how all of the Black and Latino guests Trump publicly praised last night felt when he gave Limbaugh this nation’s highest honor.


Finally, my favorite tweet of today so far, from The Volatile Mermaid (@OhNoSheTwitnt):

Things that offend Democrats:
– treason
– racism
– misogyny
– bragging about sexual assault
– homophobia

Things that offend Republicans:
– Tearing a piece of paper
– Speaking out about climate change
– Saying Barron Trump’s name
– Black people voting
– Rainbows


Thanks for reading. February has been the longest year of my life. Send comments and suggestions to teresa.hanafin@globe.com, or follow me on Twitter @BostonTeresa. See you tomorrow.

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