Thursday, January 26, 2017

Liar In Chief

Here's my next newspaper column, to be published Saturday:
In the age of Trump, having only a weekly column makes it challenging to prioritize. By the time this is published, who knows how many more significant issues will have come up? On the other hand, what’s more important than truth? So, displacing about a dozen other topics for now, let’s talk about Sean Spicer, Trump’s official press mouthpiece, and his remarkable appearance one day after inauguration. 
In case anyone is unaware, he devoted his first news conference to upbraiding the press for, he claimed, lying about the size of the crowd at the inauguration. Photos taken at the same time, from the same angle, make it clear that the crowd for Trump was enormously less enormous than for President Obama eight years earlier, as do Metro ridership data; but Sean Spicer was having none of it. It was the largest crowd ever, for any inauguration. Period. Yes, he said “Period.” And left without taking questions. 
Is this weightier than issuing gag orders on scientists across all government agencies? Does it deserve more attention than his impossible claim he’ll end crime and remove radical Islamic terrorism from the face of the earth? Offending the CIA by using their Memorial Wall as a backdrop for vainglorious self-promotion and having brought stooges there to cheer and clap? Well, if we have a president who’s untethered from reality, yes. If blatant lies are to be modus operandi from this administration, it deserves unwavering attention, because this level of shameless mendacity is unprecedented. 
Although many Trumpites seem okay with being lied to, I believe among them are decent people, thoughtful ones, who prefer truthfulness and reality-testing in a president. People whose patriotism and bravery run deeper than partisanship. Very soon, we’ll all depend on that. 
If Sean Spicer believes what he claimed, he’s delusional. If not, if he’s just following orders, we must wonder what demand, if any, he’d consider beyond justifying. Are Trump’s people already afraid to tell him the truth? More pertinent, though, is why Trump ordered him to say what he did. During the campaign we learned to expect lies. But this? Crowd size? When there’s photographic evidence? What does it mean that our president is compelled to such obvious fabrication? There aren’t many explanations, and they’re all alarming. 
If Trump sees only what he wants to see, ignoring irrefutable evidence to the contrary, we’re in grave, non-partisan danger. (He’s repeating his discredited claim that millions voted illegally for Hillary; even confabulated about rain and sun during his inauguration. This is disturbingly abnormal.) If he lies intentionally, thinking so little of the people to whom he promised to return the government, we should be both frightened and insulted. Which is the greater threat: a president who’s pathologically unmoored from reality, or one capable of lying whenever he speaks? That’s the no-winners situation we face. 
Which brings us to Kellyanne Conway. While many of Trump’s appointees are some combination of inexperience, incompetence, and ethical deficiency, Ms. Conway is a brilliant choice. Never have we seen a more facile propagandist or producer of disinformation, not even on Fox “news.” Asked why Trump sent Spicer out there to lie, her glib response was chilling: he was presenting “alternative facts.” We’ve just learned the motto for the new administration: Alternative Facts. 
Accepting the health risks, I check in on right-wing websites. They defended it all, claiming the pictures weren’t from comparable times (they were), blaming the press, seeing conspiracy, exactly as Trump would have them do. But even Chris Wallace, one of Fox “news’” two sometimes fair and occasionally balanced reporters, creating a Sophie’s choice for Trumpists, stated he was there and saw the empty space.  Is Trump plumbing the depths of gullibility of his voters, prepping them for even bigger lies, testing what he can get away with? Is that a less disturbing explanation than literal insanity? Joseph Goebbels vs. George III? 
How much duplicity can Trump’s supporters rationalize? It’s in their hands, especially those in Congress, to take a stand if he becomes even more unhinged. If they don’t, they will have failed themselves and their county. And, having the temperament, history, and, now, the means to punish “enemies,” what will Trump do if they do?
[Image source]


  1. Yep... what you said, times 10. I wrote an essay about the lying liars we're now dealing with, would like to know what you think. Keep it up, Sid... you're an important touchstone for so many of us. WELL DONE, DOCTOR.

  2. Extremely well and comprehensively said! I left a note on your blog.

  3. I also left a comment, Oblio. Wonderful writing.

    The same goes for this installment, Sid. The Herald readers need to be confronted with the outrageous lies, their lying president, and the lying mills that poison minds.

  4. I'm not convinced that Trump even understands the difference between a lie and the truth. I've dealt with a compulsive liar and I think that no matter how did ridiculous the claim, as they are saying the words, they believe it.
    For Trump, it seems like things he likes are true, things he diesnt are false. The man is a walking personality disorder.

  5. Totally agree, Prof. He is, at minimum, a pathological liar and a bearer of narcissistic personality disorder.

  6. A reminder: I did not have sex with that woman.

  7. Good one, Ed. Surprised you didn't bring up being shot at in Bosnia, or you can keep your doctor.

    See, the thing is, this is, like, a cosmically greater level of lying. This isn't just trying to avoid or distort the truth. This is delusional. This is constant. Lies from Trump are so frequent and so all-encompassing, there's no reason to believe he's ever telling the truth.

    We know most politicians lie. Most dogs bark. This is barking all day, all night, never ending. There's a difference, Ed. I bet you actually know that.

  8. I do believe, Anonymous, it's possible that among those who voted for Trump, reluctantly, because they didn't like Hillary, or whatever, there must be some that are capable of being appalled at what they're seeing. In fact, there's evidence of that already. I didn't claim all Trump supporters would be moved. And, far as I can tell, from my vantage point, I'm not a fool. Not entirely, anyway.

    I even think it's possible that Congressional Rs might get to the point of impeachment. Were it to happen, they'd get Pence, whose their perfect bill-signer, someone they could count on entirely. How's that for foolish?

  9. "If you believe Trump supporters are gonna care about his lies you are a fool."

    The point is correct; however the "Alternative Facts" meme inaugurated by trumpist SmellyCan ConAday is intended to insinuate the subversive idea that there is no such thing as factual, objective truth; and that everybody is lying, so our only option is to support those lies we choose to believe.

    There can be no idea more corrosive to constitutional government than one which denies the very existence of truth.



  10. Trump just fired the acting A.G....

    The A.G. thought the immigration order was unlawful.

  11. He just fired the head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

    Holy crap!

    Mark my words...The Marines ain't gonna do anything unlawful as well. What's Drumpf gonna do? Fire the Marines?

    I am wondering if I should wait another ten minutes before mashing 'enter' on this

  12. That didn't take long. Drumpf threatened to move troops into Mexico and slammed the phone down.

    How do these people live with themselves? The Drumpf voters specifically.


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