Tuesday, February 21, 2017

President Trump and Lies

You may or may not have seen the President's most recent news conference in which he asserted and repeated statements that weren't true. Trump lies so much that it's hard to keep up. Most of his lies seem to be variations on the theme of how he's the biggest and the best at everything. This seems to indicate some pretty deep insecurities about his life and who he is. Nobody hits a home run every time they step up to the plate. Nobody wins all the time. There's always someone younger, stronger, smarter, better looking, richer, etc. But Trump doesn't seem to be able to publicly acknowledge that he's less than perfect in every way. Why is that? Who knows. What is important is that by saying so many things that are not only not true but demonstrably untrue, Trump is showing that he lives in a relativist post-truth world. Trump isn't just making statements which are open to interpretation depending on your partisanship. He's not just picking the most favorable understanding of an event or fact, as the previous President was wont to do. No. Trump insists upon saying that 2+2 = 5. He then takes offense when someone points out that no, actually 2+2 =4. At best Trump will mumble "Well that's what I heard" and move on to another untruth. It is interesting and ironic to see the press, which has occasionally fallen into a somnolent loyal opposition or establishment balance mode decide to return to more of a watchdog style. As Trump has admitted elsewhere he's a carny barker who is prone to making exaggerated claims to get people to buy what he's selling. Apparently that approach has worked for him in the real estate and branding business, though since he's refused to share his tax returns we have no idea of how well it's worked. But being the President of the United States is a different job than hawking Chinese made menswear. The skill sets are different.

Trump despises the press. And clearly the feeling is mutual for many opinion leaders. Evidently, the shock of Trump's election has not worn off for many media types. And just as obviously Trump enjoys rubbing their face in the fact that they got it wrong. That's fine as far as it goes. Trump's audience doesn't like the press any more than he does. Trump enjoys campaigning against the press. Some of the establishment press might want to think a bit about why they are disliked and distrusted. The bigger problem with Trump's penchant for lying isn't what it says about Trump. No it's what it says about us, or to be specific the people who voted for Trump. The very first thing you must do as an adult is to embrace reality. Children can live in fantasy worlds. Adults can't afford to do that. Adults must embrace reality because only by doing so can they make the optimum decisions. If Trump and his flock really believe that millions of illegal aliens voted, that Trump had the biggest electoral college win since Ronald Reagan, that hundreds of Muslim-Americans cheered 9-11, that the Trump Administration is running like a well oiled machine, that the national murder rate is the highest it's been in 47 years, or that Trump's inaugural crowd was the biggest ever, then they will pursue and support policies that aren't based on reality. This is analogous to a doctor telling you that he needs to amputate your arm in order to cure your headache. The doctor may mean well. He may be solicitous of your pain. But the more you listen to him the more apparent it becomes that he doesn't have the slightest clue what he's doing. Worse he believes things which you know just aren't true. That's not a doctor you're going to trust. Now it's the case that there will be some Trump voters who will not turn against Trump until he does the political equivalent of chopping off their arm. And even then because they believe the lies some of them will look for another person to blame. This is human nature after all. Democrats are not that different in some ways.

The larger question which Trump's political opponents need to answer, hopefully before 2020, is how did the American electorate become so polarized that intelligent rational people vote for a man with such a casual relation to the truth. It's probably because there are some other Trump positions which are more important to Trump's supporters than his lies. Trump has told people he can get them to SugarCandy Mountain. He's not the first and won't be the last President to promise greatness. He's just one of the most dishonest.
Trump Fact Checking
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