Is Trump Not Already Our Greatest Political Hustler?

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PolitiFact Confirms Record-breaking Pants-on-Fire Lies

Stand aside, iconic American phonies, fakes, charlatans, and con artists who never boasted 24/7 cable TV and internet leverage to spread chicanery over gullible marks. Watch out Richard Nixon, George W. Bush or Dick Cheney for Trump is rewriting the playbook for political perfidy, if not electioneering. All the more impressive since the Donald’s public service resume is one big fat zero.

The great Trump con shoots off his shotgun flame-thrower that fuels his absurd doomsday narrative — cry havoc, we’re doomed. His crass hustle thus mocks all that voters once held holy: real-world credibility and expertise that buttress two old-fashioned ideas: character (read: no visible corruption) and competent governance.

Trump’s art of the con reduces the complex whole to one swagger: not only is the US foundering on the rocks, but only one savior, a selfless, self-financed billionaire, can deflect shipwreck.  It’s either Trump or a permanent, fatal blow to our super-power status. In his words, this country “is a hellhole” that “is going down fast.” America “is in big trouble” and “never has victories anymore.” Lost in some fictive golden age, the US is the 90 lb. weakling,“laughingstock all over the world.” Our military a “disaster,” healthcare a “horror show.” “We have no borders. Our vets are being treated horribly. Illegal immigration beyond belief.”

Well, “beyond belief” matches Trump’s truthiness, with no more finesse than his political resume is empty. What’s far more believable, with abundant evidence, is that DT lies more often and more calculatingly than the prior champion. Yes, that Dick Cheney, who spoke truthfully only 5% of the time per PolitiFact (in Trump’s league). Then compare their Pants-on-Fire deceptions: Cheney, all of 6%, vs. Trump’s 21%.  Over 3.5 X more indefensible lies from Trump than Cheney.

Trump’s flummery has staggered the GOP wing nut field, hardly teeming with truth-tellers, then forged his frontrunner status — that confirms truly championship hustling. What other charlatan with zero elected experience lasts his long? And imagine the bomb President Trump would drop on history, taking America into uncharted realms. No prospect ever claimed the White House as his first elected office (aside from notable military paragons).

Yikes! The Lying Outlier

Though Trump’s bravado outlaws facts and fact-checking, that doesn’t banish reality or reason. PolitiFact independently tracks veracity of public claims, its top two categories being True or Mostly True, then Half-true, Mostly False, False, and finally, for shameless lying: the Pants-on-Fire imprimatur.

True or Mostly True      Pants on Fire
Trump                6%                   21%
Cruz                   22%                 5%      
Sanders              53%                 0%
Clinton               51%                1%
Rubio                  37%                2%
Bush                   47%                3%

Voila! the lying outlier. The total Trump report here, a jaw-dropping, truth-avoidance rate of 77% (across 69 claims):

True 1 (1%)  
Mostly True  5 (6%)
Mostly False   13 (16%)
False 33 (40%)
Pants on Fire 17 (21%)

New records, across elections, if not history. Not only is Trump the Political Liar of the Year, what figure ever lied more?  In the last century?  in American history? Get back to me. Of course, fact-checking ignores those mean-spirited, cheap shots beyond true/false verification: “Cruz is nasty, no one likes him” or “Jeb suffers from low energy.”

Worst of all is Trump’s psychopathic zero learning curve. Other manipulators caught in some indefensible lies deny it, scream misquotation, fudging, rush to change the subject. Not Donald who doubles down, flame-throwing more deceit to bury the first  How remarkable to find enough suckers so taken in by his “charm” con, not asking what any 5th grader would, “is that true”?

Pathological liars don’t think they ever lie, all blowback defied as lies concocted by “enemies.” We all know nasty narcissists never doubt their brilliance, charisma, and power, thus delusions of grandeur, if not superiority. The heroic Trump will dictate to Congress, Supreme Court, China, India, and Russia. No blarney’s too idiotic when in a zone with pliant marks.

Style Trumps Substance

Reality disappears when arm-waving showmanship makes you convincing and genuine, with just enough truthiness (yes, money impacts politics, terrorists are dangerous) to season a crude bluntness. Donald’s polished playacting (as a practiced reality-show persona) trumps substance, thus his contempt for policy or functional solutions.

Mass, hypnotic delusion allows Trump to fabricate details because his audience buys the crass terms of his deluded storyline: America’s wrecked, all in charge are boobs or craven hypocrites, and only electing the incorruptible Trump will “make America great again.” Time again to invoke H. L. Mencken’s gem, “No one went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.”

When an amateur-political charlatan, dancing as fast as he can while stomping on truth, thrives in volatile polling, doesn’t that encourage a free-for-all in subterfuge? “Republicans Have Surrendered to Donald Trump.” If every belligerence or sneer gets cheered, not the hook, this soul-sucking con man will just dance faster. Rarely has so much style and so little substance suckered so many gullible folks.

Trump Trumping Reality

It turns out Trump truculence sells better than hard truths when wounded losers seek solace to assuage understandable rage. Trumpettes are not open to elite chatter about complex causes and complex proposals. Donald’s daunting daily challenge: deceive more convincingly and reductively than wimp establishment figures.

Could Trump’s witches brew of racism, anti-women, anti-immigration, anti-Muslim bigotry get him nominated? Won’t that drive his narcissism reading, already off the chart? That way invites the mayhem of erratic behavior even billionaire buddies won’t find charming. And if he wins it all, who’d not badmouth Founders for missing this impeachable abuse: the great, demagogic con? We also serve who only wait until the vanity balloon bursts.

Still, ripples from the Trump earthquake could advance political clarity — by driving a divisive stake through the GOP’s heart. Only a world-class hustler pulls off that welcome stunt. I fear downsides, but not Bernie Sanders going head to head with a Donald who refuses good advice from party pros he scorns.

A finale from Huffington Post, informing PolitiFact’s 2015 Lie of the Year: “Trump’s only real ideology is the Worship of the Donald, and he will do and say anything that appeals to the lowest common denominator  . . .  to attract [voter] support – the nation’s id, the near-feral segment that breathes and lives on fear and paranoia and hatred.”

Even better, here’s proof that comedians see through transparent flummery:

“Trump says “he’s sick and tired of the rest of the world laughing at the United States. Well, President Trump will certainly put an end to that!”—David Letterman.

“Trump said that he was running for president as a Republican. That’s funny, because I thought he was running as a joke.”―Seth Meyers

“This is what I’ve been waiting for my whole life. A President who’s not afraid to tell the truth about being a lying a**hole!”―Lewis Black

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Robert S. Becker
For over a decade, Robert S. Becker's independent, rebel-rousing essays on politics and culture analyze overall trends, history, implications, messaging and frameworks. He has been published widely, aside from Nation of Change and RSN, with extensive credits from OpEdNews (as senior editor), Alternet, Salon, Truthdig, Smirking Chimp, Dandelion Salad, Beyond Chron, and the SF Chronicle. Educated at Rutgers College, N.J. (B.A. English) and U.C. Berkeley (Ph.D. English), Becker left university teaching (Northwestern, then U. Chicago) for business, founding SOTA Industries, a top American high end audio company he ran from '80 to '92. From '92-02, he was an anti-gravel mining activist while doing marketing, business and writing consulting. Since then, he seeks out insight, even wit in the shadows, without ideology or righteousness across the current mayhem of American politics.

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