Trump's Bizarre Story About Japanese People Dropping Bowling Balls on Cars Left Everyone Confused

President Donald Trump made some peculiar claims about Japanese car safety standards at a private fundraising speech on Wednesday that no one has really been able to explain.


The Washington Post obtained audio of the speech. This section of the article drew a lot of attention:

"'It's called the bowling ball test; do you know what that is? That's where they take a bowling ball from 20 feet up in the air and they drop it on the hood of the car,' Trump said of Japan. 'And if the hood dents, then the car doesn't qualify. Well, guess what, the roof dented a little bit, and they said, nope, this car doesn't qualify. It's horrible, the way we're treated. It's horrible.' It was unclear what he was talking about."

On Thursday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump was joking. 

"Obviously, he is joking about this particular test, but it illustrates the creative ways some countries are able to keep American goods out of their markets," she said.

Some have pointed out that the Japanese do use a test that simulates a human head colliding with the front of a car. However, the point of that test is that the hood should dent—that means the car is absorbing more of the force than the human body. If American cars aren't passing this test, it means they don't meet Japanese safety standards. Few dispute the right of countries to design their own safety standards.

Another guess is that perhap Trump was confusing advertising stunts or an old Dave Letterman gag.

So was Trump joking? Trying to make a real point? Neither explanation really makes sense, because his fundamental argument is unsound. The best explanation is the most simple one: Trump had no idea what he was talking about and mangled basic facts about trade, supposedly one of his core interests. 

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