“Trump makes falsehoods central to impeachment defense as incriminating evidence mounts,” ran a headline in yesterday’s Washington Post.
There’s a shocker. Donald Trump has resorted to lying.
Click through the link above if you want see some of the recent (alleged) falsehoods, pertaining mostly to those matters for which he’s likely to soon be impeached.
Don’t get me wrong. I think truth-squadding this president or any president or high-ranking public official is great. I always thought so. I grew up in an era in which the most basic rule of journalism was getting your facts right. If you got one wrong, and your paper had to run a correction, it was a huge disgrace.
The importance of getting one’s facts right was so deeply imbued in my brain, heart and possibly my liver and pancreas, that, when Donald Trump came along and started lying constantly, blatantly, provably, and when the fact-checkers started pounding him for it, I actually thought it would finish him in politics.
But – this just in – it didn’t.
It was hard for me to accept. Painful, too, because I had bought into not only the moral importance of getting one’s facts right, but into the political necessity of any candidate having to pay a huge, politically fatal price for getting a reputation as a serial liar.
I kept waiting for the day or week or month or year when Trump’s absolute commitment to mendacity would destroy, or at least damage, his candidacy, or his presidency, or his standing with the public. You know the old saying: fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.
The Trump years have been rough on me, almost spiritually rough because, although I didn’t think myself naïve — and I accept that a politician could get away with a certain amount of fudging and short-term fibbing, dissembling and even mendacity and prevarication for a while — I thought no one could just keep lying like a rug and get away with it in politics.
But I was wrong. Trump has taught me that honesty and factual accuracy are overrated, at least in terms of their value to a political career, at least in the case of one as handsome and charming as he. He’s been getting away with this his whole life, and, over the past four or five years, he’s been doing it in the full view of the nation under the glare of the fact-checkers of my benighted profession. And, well, he’s still president and I’m not.
The most recent look-back by the esteemed Washington Post Fact-Checker operation, published three weeks ago, was headlined: “President Trump has made 13,435 false or misleading claims over 993 days.”
I’m sure someone could quibble with the number (maybe too low, maybe too high), but no honest person with a critical thinking bone in his or her body could seriously dispute the point. Trump lies constantly and, if he has paid any price for it, it hasn’t prevented him from obtaining and maintaining a hold on the highest office in the land.
It’s true he has a dismal job approval rating, 41.4 percent as of Thursday morning, according to the average of many approval poll maintained by fivethirtyeight.com, but that’s roughly where it’s been throughout his three years in office. Do the Trump approvers think he’s a truth-teller? Do they think all politicians lie this much? Do they think honesty, or at least factual accuracy, is vastly overrated? I’ve been agonizing over these questions for years now.
But forgive me if I can no longer summon much surprise that after his first 13,000 lies, the last 435 haven’t cost him much support.