How Many Lies Does it Take?

If Ronald Reagan is the president who won the Cold War, and Obama will be remembered as the first Black president, Trump’s place in the history books is certain to be considerably less flattering: the impeached president who made up the most stuff, pretty much all day, pretty much every day.

 

Once upon a time, not terribly long ago, Donald J. Trump’s difficult relationship with the truth was of little actual consequence to anyone. However, New Yorkers knew exactly the truth about this man and rolled their eyes when he opened his mouth.

Image result for trump lies

 

He was an outer-borough real estate guy turned Manhattan celebrity turned game show host, whose fame was built largely on his willingness to fill New York City’s tabloid gossip pages. He would say whatever juicy or outrageous or provocative thing that came to mind to get himself ink. It mattered not at all whether he was truly sleeping with a particular supermodel, as his made-up-spokesman alias would claim, or if a member of the royal family was really moving into one of his properties – except perhaps to the writer struggling to fill those remaining column inches by the deadline.

 

That all changed in May 2016, when he became the presumptive presidential nominee for one of the two major American political parties. Overnight, his utterances became deeply significant, every syllable pored over both in America, where many until that point had not paid much attention to him, and more so in capital cities the world over ― even if he didn’t appreciate it or care.

Related image

 

Three and a half years later, pretty much everyone on the planet paying even the least bit of attention understands that when it comes to assertions of fact from the American president, there is good reason to take them with a healthy dose of skepticism. Several healthy doses, in fact. And because Donald Trump demands loyalty both in words and deed – expecting a behavior that tends to normalize his own – that caveat became necessary early on for just about everyone who works at the White House as well as the political appointees across the executive branch agencies.

Which brings us to today. The president faces removal from office for withholding hundreds of millions of dollars of congressionally approved military aid to coerce a foreign leader into helping Trump’s own reelection campaign. He is simultaneously embracing a go-it-alone escalation with Iran that could easily blossom into a full-on war.

 

Regarding Ukraine, there are a great number of facts out there, both from witness testimony and documents, corroborating the accusations against him. And on Iran, there seem to be few facts backing up his claims that it was preparing imminent attacks against the United States.

 

To survive a Senate trial and win reelection later this year, the president needs a substantial plurality of Americans to ignore all of that and instead accept Trump’s word.

Based on his track record, there are zero reasons for anyone to do so. Zero.

His words mattered a great deal, for example, to a U.S. Navy SEAL and an untold number of Yemeni civilians who died in the first days of Trump’s presidency when he approved a special operations raid there ― in no small measure because predecessor Barack Obama had refused to approve it.

Image result for trump lies

 

They’ve mattered and will continue to matter in the Middle East, where his decisions to pull out of the Iran nuclear agreement ― again, in large measure because Obama had achieved it ― to move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and, most recently, to kill Iran’s top military leader have all further destabilized the region.

 

And they’ve certainly mattered to farmers in the American Midwest, whose livelihoods have been crushed because Trump’s trade war with China wrecked a market they had spent decades nurturing.

Progressives excoriate and conservatives praise the policies that Trump has put into place, from rolling back environmental regulations to installing Federalist Society judges to signing a tax cut that disproportionately helps the richest. Trump has, indeed, done those things ― but most if not all would have come from any Republican president from that 2016 field.

 

What Trump has brought, uniquely, is far more consequential long term: He has destroyed the credibility of the United States government, both at home and abroad. And while Scalise and other Republicans like to pretend that that doesn’t really matter, it does. Immensely!

Related image

The question Americans need to ask themselves is do we have the right to accurate information from our White House, or not? Would we permit an elected small-town mayor to lie this frequently about town business? How about a school board chair?

In hindsight, it is easy to understand why the fake Ukrainian Miss Universe winner was so easy to miss in that Sept. 25 photo opportunity.

 

In those 17 minutes, Trump claimed – falsely – that he had not pressured the new Ukrainian president into investigating Joe and Hunter Biden, even though the call memo of that phone conversation from two months earlier made clear that he had done precisely that. He claimed that other European countries were not helping Ukraine as much as the United States was when the opposite is true.

Related image

 

He defended his lawyer Rudy Giuliani’s efforts to push a debunked conspiracy theory that Russia had not helped Trump win the 2016 election, and that Ukraine had framed Russia by planting fake evidence. He repeated his frequent, but untrue, claim that China had “given” Hunter Biden $1.5 billion.

 

And squeezed in there among all the lies was one statement to Volodymyr Zelensky that could almost qualify as a policy declaration. Asked by Zelensky for help getting Crimea back from Russia, Trump essentially washed his hands of the matter, saying the invasion and annexation had happened under predecessor Barack Obama – “It’s just one of those things” – and urging Zelensky to work with Russian leader Vladimir Putin. “You’ve really made some progress with Russia,” Trump told him. “Just keep it going.”

Image result for zelensky trump

The pained expression on Zelensky’s face through most of the session said it all. Correcting Trump about the Miss Universe pageant was the least of his worries. Or ours.

The question Americans need to ask themselves is do we have the right to accurate information from our White House, or not? Would we permit an elected small-town mayor to lie this frequently about town business? How about a school board chair?

In hindsight, it is easy to understand why the fake Ukrainian Miss Universe winner was so easy to miss in that Sept. 25 photo opportunity.

 

There will come a day when Donald Trump is no longer president.

Image result for trump impeachment

Perhaps that’s a year from now. Perhaps five years. Or, in the off chance, an unforeseen turn ends in his removal or resignation, perhaps just weeks or months. In any case, his departure from the White House will bring a serious reckoning of what we, as Americans, will tolerate from our top elected official.

Related image

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s