Saturday, September 14, 2019

Donald Trump as First Responder

By some calculations, Donald Trump is now approaching 13,000 lies during his tenure as President of the United States. The lies come via flapping lips and tweeting fingers, which is how they come with many people, perhaps most people, some of them the self-proclaimed best people. But nevertheless, they're a problem.

Far be it from me to deny the specks and logs aspect of this. For those of you who may not be familiar what I'm talking about, here is Jesus on how to view this phenomenon: "How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' while there is still a beam in your own eye? You hypocrite! First take the beam out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye."

So, yeah. Ouch. In my defense as a sometimes liar, I'm going to maintain that a) I view lying as a problem, nay, as a sin (see the Ten Commandments for corroboration) and b) I strive not to lie, and when I do, I engage in an old-fashioned Christian practice known as repentance (it was once in vogue among Christians; you can look it up), confess my sin to God and to those I've lied to, and try not to do it anymore.

You can quibble about the 13,000-lie figure if you'd like. Blame it on the Fake Media if it makes you feel better. So, cut it in half. Cut it by 90%. I don't care. But I'd still like to suggest that the frequency and the ridiculousness of the lies uttered by this man is staggering and unprecedented in the annals of American politics.

Last Wednesday was the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, a day on which Donald Trump again maintained that he was at Ground Zero shortly after the planes hit, in his words "to try to help in any little way that I could." He has said this before. He says it, in fact, on every anniversary of 9/11.

Except he wasn't there. He wasn't there on 9/11 of 2001. And repeating the same lie in 2002, and 2003, and so on, right up until 9/11 of 2019 doesn't make it true. You may recall that on 9/11 of 2001 there were hundreds of police and firemen at Ground Zero. And the universal witness of the thousands of people who were on the scene and survived is that the police and fire personnel served heroically in ensuring that people got out, moved away, and far away, from Ground Zero. Other than the insistent, repeated word of Donald Trump, there is no one who states that Donald Trump was at Ground Zero on 9/11. This is because he wasn't there. And even if he had been there, the police and fire personnel would have been there doing their jobs, which was to ensure that Donald Trump, and anybody else, stayed far away from Ground Zero. But he wasn't there.

You may ask yourself why Donald Trump feels the need to announce, again and again and again and again, that he was present at Ground Zero on 9/11. It's a reasonable question to ask. You may ask yourself why he feels compelled to state that the crowd at his presidential inauguration was larger than the crowd at Barack Obama's inauguration, even though aerial photographs clearly reveal that it was not. Or why he feels the need to announce not once, not twice, not three times, but four times that his father was born in Germany, even though he was born in the Bronx, New York. What does this say about him? What does it say that some people actually believe such easily disprovable bullshit? These are good questions. I'd encourage you to ask them.

It is worth noting that, according to the Washington Post, Trump has earned the dubious distinction of being the sole recipient of a new category of recognition, a sort of Lifetime Falsehood Achievement award called the "Bottomless Pinnochio." It's given to politicians who repeat the same lie at least twenty times. As of August, 2018, Trump had garnered 14 such Bottomless Pinnochio distinctions. Note that the "I was there at Ground Zero" whopper, assuming it is only repeated on 9/11 anniversaries, doesn't yet qualify for a Bottomless Pinnochio. But give him a couple more years. Better yet, don't.

I would also like to propose, gently, gently, because that damn beam hurts, that a propensity - and let's call 13,000 of them a propensity - to lie is a major character flaw. It's a major character flaw when I engage in that behavior. It's a major character flaw when presidents engage in that behavior. It erodes trust. It's a sign of moral and personal weakness. If you happen to hold to old-fashioned Christian notions, it's sinful. I try not to do it. It would be great if the Evangelical Dream President tried, even a little, not to do it.

No comments: