This Needs Context

“This Needs Context” from the NYTimes of January 9, 2019, the morning after the desecration of the Oval Office.

Have you heard this expression lately? Context lacking?  I read it a number of times just this morning while reading the Times (the Post also) accounts of last night’s speakers. What the president said was blatantly out of context, as in his case it almost always is.

For example, here’s the president;

“America proudly welcomes millions of lawful immigrants who enrich our society and contribute to our nation, but all Americans are hurt by uncontrolled illegal migration. It strains public resources and drives down jobs and wages.” and the Times saying:

This needs context.

Some economists argue that immigrants drive down available jobs and wages for Americans only if they are competing for the same jobs as the domestic work force. In many cases, immigrants — legal or illegal — are seeking jobs that American citizens do not want to do. Kevin Hassett, the White House’s top economist, argued before joining the Trump administration that immigration spurs economic growth and that the United States should double its intake of immigrants.

Alan Rappeport

And then the President had this to say:

“Senator Chuck Schumer, who you will be hearing from later tonight, has repeatedly supported a physical barrier in the past, along with other Democrats.” 

This needs context.


Twenty-six Senate Democrats — including Mr. Schumer — voted for a 2006 law that authorized about 700 miles of fencing along the southwest border. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Mr. Trump characterized the 2006 legislation as inadequate, dismissing it as “such a little wall, it was such a nothing wall.”

As part of his campaign, Mr. Trump promised to build a 1,000-mile concrete border wall. He sometimes calls the wall a fence, though he has also rejected suggestions that it is a fence.

— Linda Qiu 

And then just one more example of the president’s words last night : 

“Every week 300 of our citizens are killed by heroin alone, 90 percent of which floods across our southern border.”

This needs context.

Most heroin smuggled into the United States does come through the southwest border, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s latest National Drug Threat Assessment report.

Fentanyl is a narcotic that is used to treat severe pain and is a key contributor the opioid crisis. It is also sometimes mixed with heroin.

But most fentanyl enters the United States from packages mailed directly from China through traditional ports of entry, according to the report, and through Canada from China. A lower-potency, lower-cost grade of fentanyl is also smuggled across the southwest border from Mexico. The fentanyl directly from China is far more lucrative for sellers because of its higher purity. The fentanyl sent through conventional mail packages has proved difficult for law enforcement to detect. Fentanyl coming from Mexico is often hidden in automobile compartments, much like conventional drug smuggling.

The president’s opioids commission reported last November that “we are losing this fight predominately through China.”

— Michael Tackett

Now the three examples above were all taken from a Times article this morning, “the morning after”, and they are telling us with understatement that the president’s words are in need of context. And “context,” meaning in these cases “history,” is what the words of this president, who tells us he doesn’t read, are almost always without. Trump is not really in the hotel and golf course business but in the business of making unsupported statements, that is, statements entirely without context, to persuade his base, the “thinking” of his base also being no less without historical knowledge.

Now those of us who think about these things, not Hélas! his evangelical heavy base who seem to no longer be thinking, have realized for a long time that this president is not qualified to be in the Oval Office. Upon hearing him speaking from that office yesterday evening it should be clear to everyone that he doesn’t belong there, in the Oval Office, let alone the White House. He is clearly an alien among us and ought not to be listened to but turned out, and turned out, impeached well before the 2020 election.

But yesterday evening, instead of turning him out our networks gave him a platform from which to speak his lies. One hopes that this august platform will not by itself persuade any of his listeners that he is speaking the truth and not simply making it up as he goes along, lying.

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Immigrants who were detained after crossing the border arrived at a bus station in McAllen, Tex., in June.Todd Heisler/The New York Times

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