When Trump Trumps Truth

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Another day, another trove of idiotic and/or infuriating Trump-related stories to react to. And, like most days, I have only so much time to organize and communicate those reactions. I felt I had to react to two apparently disparate reports, so to budget my time and achieve my goal of brevity, I needed to find a link that tied the two different incidents together.

I quickly realized that one thread ties together the following two happenings: 1. The Senate Intelligence Committee’s bipartisan conclusion that America’s intelligence agencies’ assessments about the 2016 election were correct and were not politically-influenced 2. Trumpists’ determined demands that social-distancing measures be ended.

That one thread is Trumpists’ elevation of fables over facts, which we’ll get to soon.

The Senate Intelligence Committee‘s Bipartisan Conclusion

As reported in USA Today, “The Senate Intelligence Committee reaffirmed its finding that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election, backing the conclusions of intelligence agencies and undermining President Donald Trump’s often-repeated claim that the investigation into his campaign was a politically motivated hoax.” Perhaps even more important than the committee’s conclusion is its composition: Seven of the 13 Intelligence Committee members are Republicans, all of whom voted against impeaching the president—despite clear evidence of his crimes.

Contemplate the significance: Seven Trump loyalists, along with their six Democrat counterparts, concluded not only that Russia interfered in our 2016 election, but that Russia did so aiming to “hurt Secretary Clinton and help the candidacy of Donald Trump.”

Seven Trump loyalists, along with their six Democrat counterparts, concluded not only that Russia interfered in our 2016 election, but that Russia did so aiming to “hurt Secretary Clinton and help the candidacy of Donald Trump.”

Trumpists’ Determined Demands That Social-Distancing Measures Be Ended

Meanwhile, across the nation, Trump-loyalists—egged on by Trumpist talk-show hosts, and even by Trump himself—have been marching on state capitals, demanding an end to social-distancing measures. The cure, they shout—mindlessly echoing their irresponsible leaders—must not be worse than the disease. The confirmed deaths of 45,373 Americans (as of April 22), and the tens of thousands more (perhaps hundreds of thousands, if the protestors get their way) who will die in the coming months can hardly compare to the loss of income suffered by many living Americans, the Trumpists callously imply.

The Common Thread

Despite the conclusions reached by every American intelligence agency—and now confirmed by the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee—that Russia interfered in our 2016 election in order to tip the scale in Trump’s favor, it’s a virtual certainty that at least 25 percent of the nation’s voters will cling to the Trump mantra that the entire Russia election interference investigation was “a hoax.”

Similarly, despite the conclusions reached by every American health agency—and every other health agency throughout the world—that long-term social distancing is a key element in reducing the spread of COVID-19, it’s also a virtual certainty that millions of the nation’s voters will cling to the conspiracy theorists’ declarations that COVID-19 is no more dangerous than common influenza.

Fables Versus Facts

Back in 2016, as the election neared, many were declaring that America was becoming a “post-truth” society. If some might have doubted such a doomsday declaration four years ago, no rational person can deny it now—at least as regards a quarter to perhaps a third of our populace. Our nation elected a man who has, by official count, told in excess of 18,000 lies or obviously misleading statements. Many of those lies and misstatements are plainly, easily exposed as demonstrably false. One must consciously choose to accept them over the obvious truth. And that’s exactly what millions of Americans have chosen to do.

Virtually every one of the nation’s leading intelligence experts concluded that a hostile nation attacked our electoral system to sow discord and help elect one candidate over another. Yet millions of Americans choose to believe a discernable lie rather than the unanimous conclusion of the experts in that field. Likewise, virtually every medical expert throughout the nation has determined that COVID-19 is far more virulent than the common flu. Yet millions of Americans choose to listen to the likes of Rush Limbaugh, who falsely told his millions of devoted followers, “I’ve told you that this virus is the common cold. When I said that, it was based on the number of cases. It’s also based on the kind of virus this is. Why do you think this is ‘COVID-19’? This is the 19th coronavirus. They’re not uncommon.”

Limbaugh’s ridiculously deceptive and flat-out false statement would be laughable were it not for its dangerous implications for his gullible listeners—and for every person each of those listeners comes in contact with.

Truth Must Matter

A post-truth society is a doomed society. As I wrote in an article for The Culture Crush, “Can a culture willing to accept obvious deceptions over unambiguous, verifiable facts continue to function properly? Perhaps not for long. As bad as would be the loss of the nation’s constitutional and cultural norms, even more frightening, if this trend continues, might be the loss of our individual and collective ability to know anything for certain, religious or otherwise.”

7 comments

  1. Jerry, well done. It was reported today a third GOP Senator, Charles Grassley, has shared his concern with Trump over his attacks on the Inspectors General. Regardless of party or veracity of the president, it is unwise to not protect the integrity of the IGs. If the president was CEO of a publicly traded company, he would be reprimanded and sanctioned by the independent Board Audit Committee.

    But, let’s set your post and the above paragraph aside and consider.

    – Five biographers of Trump’s noted he has a problem with the truth
    – Attorney Thomas Wells, who worked for Trump for years, wrote in 2016, “Donald Trump lies everyday, even about things of no consequence.”
    – Attorney and fixer Michael Cohen said under oath to Congress, “Donald Trump is a racist, he is con artist and he is a cheat.”
    – Attorney John Dowd told two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Bob Woodward (included with 750 hours of interview of Trump staff) for his book “Fear: Trump in the White House,” as he left the White House, he could not bring himself to tell Trump what he thought was the biggest concern, “You are a f**king liar.”
    – National Economic Advisor, Gary Cohn, also told Woodward that after witnessing Trump lie to the Australian Prime Minister about a promise in an earlier call, “Donald Trump is a prodigious liar.” It should be noted the Jewish Cohn decided to resign after Trump’s Charlottesville handling (he did stay on until he helped push the tax bill through, but his decision to leave was made earlier).
    – Then, you have the measured 17,000 plus lies in office.

    But, let’s set all of that aside. I can name six lies in two minutes. Give me ten minutes, I can add more. Give me thirty and I can add more. There are many bigger lies, but this one is one of my favorites. He told the press and the surprised Pakistan PM who was his guest, that India PM Modi had asked him to broker a peace deal between the two countries over Kashimir. Within the hour, the India PM released a press statement saying no such request was made. The White House was noticeably silent on this issue.

    Yet, the largest and most consistent lie is the following. China pays for the tariffs. He has said this lie well over a dozen times and each time he is corrected by economists. The truth is importers pay the tariffs and mostly pass on such added cost to consumers. So, in essence, we the consumers pay the tariffs. The reason I know he knows he is lying is he slipped up and told the truth during a broader conversation. He wants to downplay he is making Americans suffer over the tariffs.

    Quite simply, this independent voter does not believe a word the president says. The odds are well in my favor. So, my strong advice to anyone is taking the president at his word is a fool’s errand. Sadly, in times of crisis, it is also dangerous to do so.

    Keith

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Excellent post, Jerry! I believe that the biggest threat to our democratic foundation, to our very lives, is Donald Trump. And yet, some 40% still think he’s better than watermelon on a hot summer’s day. Sigh. I will never understand it, yet I cannot seem to stop trying.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. As I’ve said before–and I think we all agree–Trumpism is a cult, a cult that took over the Republican Party. That’s why every reasonable person, regardless of their political or philosophical leanings, MUST do everything we can to trounce the Republicans in November–not just a defeat, but a humiliating pounding. Perhaps, for some of us who still hold out some hope for the GOP, a severe drubbing might shake up some of them enough to return them to some sense of reality.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Excellent post Jerry. I’ve known a few liars in my life. But this guy? Not even close. He’s the biggest. And the fact he’s in such a position of power makes it all the more troubling. I fear there’s not much we can do to get through to the cultists. Although I will say my two Trump loving buddys have been very silent in the last few days. Maybe they’ve had enough of Don the Con? I can only hope!!

    Like

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