THE STYLE OF LYING
Everyone stop it. Take a deep breath. In….Out…
Are we seriously going to have this super freak out every day, all the time, with each and every lie being told to us by the President or his staff or his cabinet members? WE ALL KNEW THIS IS WHAT WE WERE GETTING!
For two long painfully excruciating years the entire country was warned on a regular basis by many many many people about both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton being the antithesis of honesty and integrity and they were chosen to be the nominees anyway. The lies are not news to anyone but people who were either living in a cave, or chose to not care about what was going on until now. Besides, all politicians lie. But “wait, wait” you say. Trump isn’t a politician, he’s a business man. To that I say three things: 1) What’s the difference? 2) He is now 3) That doesn’t make it okay.
For an individual who leans conservative and who is an American like myself, this is nothing new AT ALL. American conservatives are not only not at all surprised when the government or a politician lies to us, we expect it! We are surprised when they AREN’T lying to us. Americans have always been dubious — strike that — in open revolt of government since our nation’s birth. If we weren’t than the United States of America wouldn’t even exist! So our very nature as Americans is to practice a healthy, bold skepticism of whatever someone from the government says and why they are saying it. And conservative Americans are like the Leo Getz of that healthy, bold skepticism, ready to launch into a tirade about how “you get f***ed in the Drive Thru, okay!” to anyone who will listen. Loud, opinionated, annoying, and (almost) never wrong.
Unfortunately, the warnings of American conservatives are rarely ever heeded. And that’s quite infuriating, considering how often we call it or point it out or prophesy or have to say “I told ya so.” I think in light of the breathless hysteria infecting everyone over the avalanche of lies burying us all since Donald Trump took office a scant three weeks ago we may need a refresher course on the recent past and Presidential lies. Because I think the only thing that makes Trump different in the lying arena is his lying style. Let’s compare:
He told a lie when he said “no new taxes.” A campaign promise, most of which are usually lies, but in this case he was sincere when he said it. He did not intend to ever persue a tax increase as president. But once in office circumstances required him to make a decision on revenue increases. He decided he had to break that campaign promise, like it or not. An ex post facto liar, if you will.
Ah, Bill Clinton. “Slick Willy.” What a nickname. The kind of man who lied so well that people were impressed and didn’t seem to mind. Clinton’s lies were to serve a purpose: TCB and CYA (as needed, of course). Most lies from Clinton were probably little white lies to him. Who’s it hurting? This isn’t THAT big a deal. But once you’re lying under oath and being impeached for it, well, you’re trafficking in a brand of lying that can turn out to be a pretty big deal. But Slick Willy was so slick impeachment didn’t stick. And the people still love it when Bill Clinton walks in the room and jokes about the definition of “is.”
“Bush lied, people died.” Now this one’s tricky because there are layers to this one that were lies actually told by people way down the food chain of intelligence, which weren’t complete lies really but partial ones. And those lies rose through the ranks of intelligence agencies in multiple countries that formed a credible and established coda of actionable intelligence that the US, UK, Germany, France, and even Russia all agreed: Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass dustruction. After 9/11, President Bush and Vice President Cheney believed the intelligence was solid (as did Congress, by the way). They believed that America could be attacked by a known enemy that could potentially be interested in selling WMD to Al Qaeda and Bush was not willing to take a chance on that. Even if the intelligence might have some doubt buried in it somewhere. Not after 9/11. Now did Saddam have nukes? No. Did he have a nuclear program? Yes. Did he have weapons of mass destruction? Well, sarin gas bombs were found years into the war. The press didn’t report on that too much. Just a mention really. And of course there’s the horrific situation with Syria today where Assad has used sarin and other poison gas artillery attacks on densely populated areas. I wonder where he got those weapons from? 🤔 Oh, no matter. It was all a big red herring to lie the American people into a war for oil, right? “Bush lied, people died” so we could reap the whirlwind of a costly war that proved to be a far greater harm to us than just blood and treasure in the end. The city on the hill was no longer shining. And division had sown it’s seeds into the populace. A (sort of) lie that was sincerely believed to be the truth helped add to the damage Osama Bin Laden had begun. An unknown known lie, I guess.
“You can keep your plan. You can keep your doctor.” “Benghazi was the result of a YouTube Video.” “It’s not ransom money we paid Iran. Promise.” The narrative lie. For the Obama White House, the narrative was what mattered. And if truth revealed the narrative to be false, it didn’t matter. Because the narrative had been so well crafted and repeated by so many people so many times for so long by then that enough people on enough media platforms that nobody really knows the truth for sure anymore, do they? Some Ben Rhodes talking points here or a Jonathan Gruber lecture there can’t hurt the narrative. It’s already out there and it’s been out there for a year already! No one even remembers what the lie was! “Dude, that was two years ago.” Lying with finesse was President Obama’s style.
Donald J. Trump
Which brings us to Donald J. Trump. The Donald. Mr. Trump, for anyone who hasn’t caught on yet, JUST. SAYS. THINGS. He does not think before he speaks. He changes his story between his morning tweet and afternoon statement to the press. A couple different alternative facts versions handed out to his spokespeople to go on television and look like crazed sycophant liars because they are just saying what Trump said or they are saying what he said to someone else and viola! Chaos. And none of them can keep up or talk with each other to get the story straight as the “official White House position” on a matter either. It’s all happening too fast for anyone to confer on subjects a,b,c, and d before he’s tweeted again or said something completely different than what he told Spicer to say two hours earlier or Conway 30 minutes ago. Whew! It’s crazy. But it’s not crazy if you’ve ever had a friend who Just. Says. Things. and who doesn’t think before they speak and who has never really valued honesty as a matter of principle. Or at least not that you’d ever know it. You have that friend. That one family member. You know. Ask them about the spilled milk and the lie just spews forth. It’s knee-jerk. Like a child caught with the chocolate chip crumbs all over their lips saying “what crumbs?” Lying without thinking. That’s Trump’s style. And the trouble with it is that the media is not only completely not used to this sort of Gatling gun spray of lies, they’re woefully unprepared for it after sucking up to President Obama and drooling on his shoes for the last eight years. So it’s fake news here and alternative facts there and they’re all Russian spies… no, wait! We haven’t really confirmed anything about that yet and blah blah blah I can’t keep up anymore and you lost me. I’ve tuned out. OVERWHELMING LIES!
What in the world is going on? I don’t know. And neither do you. And neither do they! And neither does the White House! It’s like Satan himself, the Father of Lies, ambled into Washington, DC — which is already one of his favorite playgounds — and said, “You know what? Screw it!” and dumped a confetti festival of lies into the air to rain down on everyone with abandon.
So since this is settling in as the norm of an unconfirmed, unsubstantiated, non-stop free for all of people driving the car Just.Saying.Things. and recalibrating our whole selves to adjust to this upheaval of the news cycle, I have a request: Don’t get infected, mmmkay? Please don’t let these hysterics pour out of you, too. Take a breath. Hold off on posting that article. Wait a beat before retweeting that. Scroll a little further down and see if that’s been debunked yet. Okay? Please? For everyone’s sanity and for a welcome reduction in smart phone notifications just calmly remind yourself that our new President #JustSaysThings and maybe the media can start taking its time again to rein in the President’s manic onslaught of words. If you’re a journalist: Do your jobs. Properly. Carefully. K? And if you’re John Q. Citizen exercise a littler temperance. We will all be better for it. And perhaps for the good of the nation Washington DC will take a deep breath and get itself under control, as well.