WASHINGTON (AP) – Joe Biden and fellow Democrats spun an assortment of facts to their benefit in their national convention, omitting inconvenient truths such as Barack Obama’s record of aggressive deportations and swift action by a Republican president to save the auto industry more than a decade ago.
Meantime President Donald Trump flooded the zone with falsehoods, some so apparent that anyone with access to the internet could see the folly of them at a glance. Witness his reference to New Zealand’s “massive breakout” of COVID-19, which does not exist.
The virtual, socially distanced Democratic National Convention was unique in history but conventional in this sense: The nominee and his supporters at times exaggerated the good, played down the bad and glossed over important context.
But overall the discipline was discernible, as it usually was for the biggest speeches of Republican and Democratic leaders alike before the rise of Trump. Even Biden, a gaffe machine in the old days, displayed that control. The off notes came largely from what Democrats didn’t say.
A sampling from the past week’s rhetoric as the Republican National Convention prepares to affirm Trump as the 2020 nominee in coming days:
BARACK OBAMA: “We are born of immigrants. That is who we are. Immigration is our origin story.” – convention video Wednesday celebrating immigration, showing historical scenes and one that appeared to be of Trump’s border wall.
BARACK OBAMA: “I understand why a new immigrant might look around this country and wonder whether there’s still a place for him here.” – convention speech Wednesday.
THE FACTS: The facts here are not in dispute. But an omission stands out: Obama aggressively enforced border controls and deported nearly 3 million people.
He changed his approach, acting without Congress in 2012 to let people who came to the U.S. illegally as children stay and work legally in the country.
Still, that year was Obama’s high mark for deportations, more than 400,000, far outpacing Trump’s deportations in each of his first three years.
“This whole immigration video was like putting salt on the wound,” tweeted Erika Andiola, an advocate from RAICES, an immigration legal services group in Texas. “Narrated by Obama? Come on.”
She said: “I am angry because it was his administration who almost deported my mother and then Trump came to try to deport her again.”
Immigration activist Julissa Natzely Arce Raya, author of “My (Underground) American Dream,” saw hypocrisy at work, after the video of Estela Juarez, the 11-year-old girl whose mother was deported to Mexico.
“Obama did a lot of things right, but not immigration, he didn’t get that right,” she tweeted. “I promise you, tonight there is a Estela whose mom was deported by Obama.”
MICHELLE OBAMA, on Americans: “They watch in horror as children are torn from their families and thrown into cages.” – Democratic convention Monday.
THE FACTS: The reference to cages is misleading and a matter that Democrats have persistently distorted.
Trump used facilities that were built during the Obama-Biden administration to house children at the border. They are chain-link enclosures inside border facilities where migrants were temporarily housed, separated by sex and age.
At the height of the controversy over Trump’s zero-tolerance policy at the border, photos that circulated online of children in the enclosures generated great anger. But those photos, by The Associated Press, were taken in 2014 and depicted some of the thousands of unaccompanied children held by Obama.
When that fact came to light, some Democrats and activists who had tweeted the photos deleted their tweets. But prominent Democrats have continued to cite cages for children as a distinctive cruelty of Trump.
The former first lady was correct, however, in addressing the removal of children from parents at the border.
The Obama administration separated migrant children from families under certain limited circumstances, like when the child’s safety appeared at risk or when the parent had a serious criminal history. Family separations as a matter of routin…