Most presidential campaigns generate a memorable one-liner. “Where’s the beef?” “There you go again.” “Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.”
Donald Trump uses nicknames instead of clever one-liners. Crooked Hillary. Sleepy Joe. Joe Biden can try a nickname on Trump, but he probably won’t. But he could come up with a one-liner. Why not call out Trump’s tendency to play fast and loose with the facts?
If someone asks him about one of Trump’s lies, Biden can simply respond, “He can’t handle the truth.” If pressed he can add, “That’s why there’s few good men working for him.”
Jimmy Cater just advised Donald Trump to “tell the truth . . .for a change.” Why in the world would Trump do that? Being loose with the truth has worked just fine for him so far. He convinced investors to back dubious real estate projects that made him very wealthy. He built his political chops by embracing fringe conspiracy theories and outright lies.
Lying is a wining strategy for Trump. He would be crazy to change.
Carter wasted an opportunity. Instead of saying his advice for Trump was to tell the truth, he should have answered in a more truthful manner. “I would advise him to stop lying, but we know that is never going to happen, so I will just pass on this one.”
Over the past week or so we’ve seen a real turnaround in the mainstream media. They are using the word ‘lie’ to describe Donald Trump’s pronouncements. As in “Donald Trump Is Lyin’ Up a Storm” (New York Times) and “Trump’s Lies Are Becoming Exponentially More Brazen” (Vanity Fair) or simply “Donald Trump Lies.” (CNN).
This is new. Until now, the media used words like “misstatements” and “falsehoods” to describe the President’s lies. For organizations that consider themselves objective reporters of the facts, it is amazing that it has taken them this long to call Trump a liar. He’s been lying all along.
Trump does it because it works. So why shouldn’t he? His opponents tear their hair out when he lies, and Trump and his supporters love watching them go nuts trying to prove that he’s wrong. It is like watching an old Saturday Night Live sketch of Jon Lovitz’ pathological liar. If you were in on the joke it was hilarious, and Trump’s supporters are definitely in on the joke.
The only time Trump doesn’t lie is when he is testifying in court. Which he did sometimes in his business career, but the truth is that he mostly settled legal challenges outside of court so he wouldn’t have to go under oath and tell the truth. And now that Brett Kavanaugh is on the Supreme Court, the chances of Trump having to testify under oath for the remainder of his presidency are very slim. And that’s no lie.
At some point over the next few months, President Donald Trump and Special Counsel Robert Mueller will have a conversation. Each will be accompanied by a phalanx of lawyers. Mueller and his team will ask questions. Trump, guided by his team, will answer. And then Trump will throw in a few lies.
It is certain that Trump will lie? No, but the odds are pretty good, and here’s why.
- He has done it before. Trump has been in court many times. He is familiar with testifying and has told many lies and misleading statements in the past
- He doesn’t believe he is lying. Trump is a narcissistic pathological liar, in other words he believes his lies because they are part of his self image.
- Even if he knows he is lying, he feels that as president he can do whatever he wants. Trump probably believes it is his right and duty to lie in the right circumstances, and a vindictive witch hunt by Mueller is one of those circumstances.
- He doesn’t see any downside to getting caught lying. The president can always pardon himself from committing perjury, right? Even if that doesn’t work, what’s the worst that can happen? He’s the guy that could get away with shooting someone in Times Square. They certainly aren’t going to impeach him for a lie or two. If they try, there will literally be blood in the streets – his people will never take an impeachment attempt lying down.
Mueller probably knows that he will never take Trump down. But he can take his company and business associates down. When he uncovers the full nature of the money laundering and side deals that Trump, Inc. has been involved in with the Russians and firms like Deutsche Bank it is going to get mighty uncomfortable to be in business with or as a Trump.
John Kelly probably thought that he was operating by the old rules. There are just things that one did not do. Lines one does not cross.
Yet, after working as Donald Trump’s chief of staff for two and half months why didn’t he realize that Trump doesn’t have any lines? When Trump is attacked, he fights back with whatever he can, even if it means fighting dirty. In fact, Trump’s base is tired of Washington’s version of the the Marquess of Queensberry rules. They want him to fight to win, and they don’t care how.
So Trump had no compulsions about dragging Kelly’s dead Marine son into a Twitter battle that he was having with a Gold Star family and their congresswoman. What is surprising is that Kelly allowed himself to be goaded into defending Trump publicly, even spouting ‘facts’ that turned out to be false.
Kelly, a Gold Star father, publicly lied to defend his boss’ public lies about his conversation with a Gold Star mother.
Kelly’s wife is probably furious with him for not telling off Trump after he brought their son’s death into national politics and for then allowing his integrity, and by extension their family’s, to be publicly compromised.
But what can Kelly do? He likely believes, as Bob Corker pointed out, that he is one of the few people keeping Trump from starting World War Three. His sense of duty to the country won’t let him quit.
Once a bully finds out he can roll over you, he will keep doing it. Trump rolled over Kelly and got away with it. And now he owns Kelly.
When Donald Trump first started running for president, the media treated it like a joke. The prevailing tone was, “Can you believe this guy? I mean, really, he is so crude!” It was pretty much the same way the US political media covered other candidates from world of show business like Jesse Ventura and Arnold Schwarzenegger: incredulity and a touch of condescension.
Well, it turns out that many folks could believe Trump, and liked the straightforward way he said things as well. It took the media quite a while to process this. Like until after the election. Once he was president-elect, they started treating him a bit more like a politician. But they were still easily manipulated and thrown off course by him. It was like watching a master puppeteer at work.
There are now signs that the media has made some additional incremental progress. The media is now more aware that it is part of Trump’s misdirection efforts, although it still seems powerless to stop this. It is also starting to call patently false statements ‘lies’ instead of “untruths” or some other euphemism.
The media is still too easily manipulated by tweets, but maybe this will also change with time. Since Trump will never stop tweeting, maybe the media should refrain from reporting Trump’s tweets before they can get an appropriate comment from his nemesis: the Governator.