Forgive me, please. I put the link below aside a month ago, to write about when things calmed down, and lost track of it. But, don’t worry, except for a slight adjustment in the numbers, the point of the piece is as true as ever (if, that is, you think truth is knowable, which is above my pay-grade).
Anyway, here’s the link. It’s from the Washington Post’s Fact Checker operation, led by Glenn Kessler. But it took three writers to sum up the breathtaking mendacity of Donald John Trump, the current occupant of the Oval Office.
Mendacity, if you need a reminder, is a fancy noun for lying, especially applicable to someone who lies frequently and constantly and shamelessly.
As of Jan. 20, which marked three years of Trump’s incumbency, the Post’s fact-checkers had logged 16,200 false statements made by him since the day he took the oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
That’s an average of 14.8 falsehoods a day. But it gets worse, by which I mean the Trumpian lying gets more frequent over time.
If you take the fact-checkers’ word for it, in each of his three years, Trump has told more lies than the year before. In Year Three, which ended the day of that article’s publication, he added 8,155 to his lie total (according to the Post fact-checkers), which would be an average of 22.3 lies or falsehoods a day.
The lies are mostly incredibly easy to spot, to elucidate, to prove. Maybe you could quibble that some are less lies than exaggerations, or omissions of important contrary information, or something slightly less clearly untrue. But, there’s just no way you can honestly or sincerely compare many of the things Trump says with the known facts and not understand that he does not believe the rules of honesty or the most basic factual accuracy apply to him.
Twenty-two-times a day, on average, during his third year in office.
Sure, some of you might think it’s not possible to be this precise. I understand. Were they all truly falsehoods, or might some of them be lesser forms of prevarication, small fibs, minor exaggerations, maybe even some inadvertent errors? Or are the fact-checkers biased against this particular president, out of jealousy, liberal antagonism or sheer incompetence? You are free to believe what you like.
I have read a great many of their fact-checks over those years and found them very fair and credible. But I’m not the current incumbent’s biggest admirer, so maybe that’s just my bias piggybacking on their bias.
Still, assuming for the sake of discussion, that the Post Fact Checkers know something about checking facts, and that their methods enable them to tell real untruths from slips of the tongue — in other words assuming that the president tells a dozen or two certifiable fibs, lies and/or whoppers a day — the next question is why does this never seem to affect the size of his followership?
I’ve grown used to the fact that, as measured by approval rating, for example, it doesn’t. But why?
Do they not know he lies all the time? Not mind? Consider it not really cool but worth continuing to support him considering how great he is at making America great again? Do they think telling the truth is an overrated virtue, or no virtue at all, just a sucker trap?
I hope I don’t sound totally sarcastic, because this is one of things that most sincerely puzzles me about Trump and Trumpism. I can think of reasons some people might like some of his policies and actions more than I do, although I personally dislike and disagree with the majority of them.
But, until Trump came along, I would have said that, almost irrespective of policy differences, there was some level of lying (also bragging, shaming, blowhard-ism and other characterological problems) that would be such serious turn-offs that they would render a candidate unelectable, almost irrespective of their policy positions.
And I would have said that one of the likeliest of those characteristics was rampant, out-of-control, unabashed mendacity. I would have said that someone who lied constantly, by which I mean lied as often and as blatantly and unashamedly as Trump does, could not maintain the support and approval of 40 percent of Americans.
But I would have been wrong.
(That’s the end of my rant for today, but, speaking of Trump’s approval rating, I can save a whole extra post by updating you here.)
As of Tuesday morning, the fivethirtyeight.com average of approval polls on which I have long relied showed 43.9 percent approval as opposed to 51.9 disapproval. These are bad numbers for him, but they continue the basic normal since Trump took office. It is historically unprecedented, in the relatively short history of constant approval polling, for any president to be “under water” during his entire incumbency, and even more unusual when a president has been blessed with a fairly strong economy (although Trump constantly exaggerates how good the economic numbers are and how much better they are than comparable numbers under his predecessors).
Those ratings represent a slight improvement over where Trump stood a month ago, but not much, and they are mostly within range of where his approval/disapproval picture has stood throughout his term.
There was a bit of hype a couple of weeks ago when Gallup came out with an approval number of 49 percent for Trump (still under water, but only by a single percentage point, and much better than he has done in any credible poll for many, many months).
And, of course, the Trump microphone on channels and sites that promote him was full of suggestions that his bad approval days (which never existed anyway) were over. But now, two weeks and many more approval polls later, there has been plenty of evidence that the Gallup 49 percent number was an outlier on the high side.
The 538.com average, which by the time you read this may well have been updated, is viewable here.