One of the weirder quirks of Donald Trump’s personality is his habit of telling easily disprovable lies.
Most politicians twist the truth to some extent. Many of them tell outright lies. Usually, they only do so when they don’t think they will get caught.
Mr Trump is more brazen.
Speaking in Pennsylvania today, he repeated one of his favourite fibs — a seemingly innocuous boast about a policy designed to help America’s veterans.
“I got it approved. Veterans Choice,” the President said.
Veterans Choice is a healthcare program that allows American military veterans to see private sector doctors, outside the US Government’s Veterans Affairs system, if they would otherwise have to wait too long for an appointment.
Mr Trump has repeatedly taken credit for creating the program, often saying he accomplished something other politicians had been trying to do — without success — for decades.
For example, at a rally in May he said: “We passed VA Choice and VA Accountability to give our veterans the care that they deserve, and they have been trying to pass these things for 45 years.”
CNN reporter Daniel Dale has been keeping a running tally for months and says Mr Trump has now made the Veterans Choice boast more than 80 times.
So he has claimed this 80 times.
“I said, you know, ‘I have a great idea. I’ve been thinking about it a lot’. This was during the campaign,” Mr Trump said.
“And I came back to my people, I had experts, and I said, ‘I have a great idea. These lines for the veterans are too long. It takes them three, four weeks sometimes to see a doctor. I have a great idea — let’s let them go outside, go to a private doctor. We’ll pay the bill, they’ll be all fixed up all perfect, and they can do it immediately and we’ll pay the bill’.
“And I thought, I said, ‘Man am I smart. I am the smartest guy, to think of that’. So I went before this panel of experts that were with me working on things, and I said, ‘How do you like that idea?’ And they said, ‘Sir, we’ve known about it for about 40 years, but we’ve never been able’.
“But here’s the thing. We got it done. Nobody else could get it done. Nobody else.”
It was even his personal brainchild.
Just one problem:
Here’s the actual thing. Donald Trump did not pass Veterans Choice.
The legislation was actually passed under his predecessor Barack Obama in 2014 before Mr Trump was even running for president. He had absolutely nothing to do with it.
And to make things worse:
Compounding the lie, Mr Trump has used Veterans Choice to attack the late Republican senator John McCain, who died last year after battling a brain tumour.
“McCain didn’t get the job done for our great vets and the VA, and they knew it. That’s why when I had my dispute with him, I had such incredible support from the vets and from the military. The vets were on my side because I got the job done. I got Choice,” the President said in March.
“Choice. For years and years, decades, they wanted to get Choice.
“For many decades, they couldn’t get it done. It was never done. I got it, five months ago, I got it done. Choice.”
In fact, Mr McCain co-sponsored the bill that created Veterans Choice
Of his many bad habits, lying about and denigrating a dead war hero is one of his worse.