Trump trash-talk lying backfires, replaying his disgraces while confirming our need for truth

You can’t lie your way out of a contagion, nor substitute bad faith for vaccine cures.

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Image Credit: ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP via Getty Images

The world’s worst liar dramatizes how reasoned sanity must offset his corrupt ‘truthiness’

Nothing like boorish, endless lying to reinforce the absolute need for truth and accuracy. Nothing like today’s predictable COVID surge to expose the irrational defiance of germ theory, allegedly taught in high school. After unconscionable pandemic denials, the right practiced medical obstructionism across 18 months, only now—too little, too late—with a hypocritical anti-vax retreat. Nothing like brash, insupportable lies about election accuracy to spur in-depth vote scrutiny—cementing state certifications for all time. Nothing like inexcusable Trump lies, watering down the doomed, violent Jan. 6 insurrection, to keep guilty parties in the public eye.

We can neither explain, nor manage a complex world with stupid lying, nor gross distortions that invite retributions both by nature and savvier nations. Climate change rings a clarion emergency bell, proving that willful ignorance only makes tragic outcomes arrive sooner. In fact, calculated truthiness, in Trump’s case a 30K, four-year lying addiction, challenges the very necessary commitment to objective truth. Statistics and fact are not absolute, but how else do we make so many simple decisions without trusting them?

Anticipating Trumpism by a decade, Stephen Colbert’s ’05 “truthiness” speaks to the conquest of gut instinct, feeling or opinion over logic, evidence and knowledge. Trump’s horror show not only corrupts one-third of today’s electorate, but proves that lying is always provisional, requiring endlessly repeated fibs to cover up earlier deviance. The ultimate problem with non-stop lying goes beyond mere fraud but impacting public opinion that in turn nullifies urgent, real-world proposals, let alone not solutions. Because truth perverted is truth denied, fake panaceas (like ingested bleach or election redos) are doubly toxic.

Truthiness in retreat

Thus, depicting COVID as a hoax, then just another flu, then treatable by drinking poison, Trump lies demonized expert witnesses, tested judgments and scientific models. You can’t lie your way out of a contagion, nor substitute bad faith for vaccine cures. That right-wing blowhards now suddenly see the vaccination light speaks to desperation: their voters are suffering, dying or leaving the tent of crazies. Expect similar reversals on election fraud claims or the delusion mushy Democrats are radical socialists.

In short, as the world’s worst liar, the more outrageous the Trump’s fabrications, the more obvious the rashness to outdo last week’s whopper, again employing trickery over common sense. If anything undermines the Republican Party, it is undying loyalty to Trump—and the longer it lasts, the greater the damage. Overall, nothing pulverizes GOP bluster about “America exceptionalism” more than the onerous Trump still heading a national party. Here’s a lawless incompetent who failed to run a law-abiding family syndicate, let alone government, without criminal activity. What makes America much less great than a twice-impeached, multiply-disgraced failure leading the pack for a 2024 nomination? Bookies may have to start taking bets on a third impeachment.

That palpable grossness, let alone indictments, have not banished Trump speaks to the self-destructive nature of his electorate. For the “base,” no other savior exists and they seem willing to go down with the ship. No Democrat (or outsider) could do to Trump gangsterism what it does to itself. Rest assured, Trump will badly lie until no longer a public figure.

The Trump Paradox

Call it irony or paradox or simply the inevitable logic of adults re-controlling threatening tantrums. Each Trump whopper of late has not just made Trump less electable but verified that truth is knowable—simply reverse whatever Trump says. I still say the right’s medical malpractice—increasing mortality by opposing mass vaccination—remains its worst political liability. The medical truth could not be simpler: either you get the vaccine or you get the disease—equating over time “Trump” with a mishandled, fatal plague.

Thus the Trump demise picks up speed as reality defeats truthiness. For decades Trump demonstrated that trusting gut instinct is why “everything Trump touches dies,” per Rick Wilson. As a famous essay defined true stupidity—as harming others without benefiting the initiator, the entire Trump career is in shambles—having done great damage to others with no payoffs to himself or family. Even destruction of image and fortune. If nothing else, the Trump implosion reminds us all on what western civilization depends: reason, logic, and tested facts, plus skepticism that no one is free from error, bias or over-confidence.

Western virtues (science, control, prediction, money, and power) prove that blind (or ignorant) faith alone, religious or not, is the most suspect human guide. Pushing the fundamentalist fallacy of “I know best and alone can fix everything” establishes how willful ignorance—and inability to accept expertise —leads to intolerance, rigidity, and unshakeable self-righteousness. If you are never wrong, then by definition you are incapable of error and, worst of all, resistant to adaptive feedback when decisions go awry (as many will, eventually).

The rankness of the Trumpist fixations, so many instantly, palpably absurd, provide enough 2X4s for even a backward culture to wake up and yearn for rationality. If science and learning do not again command public policy, we will have to stop blaming Trump—despite the stellar uniqueness of his example – but the majority who tolerates a party of absurdity to have power.

Teaching moments galore

Trump set forth with more clarity than earlier (but more cautious) right-wingers ravages from racism, anti-minority, anti-female rhetoric, demonization of opponents as enemies, medical chicanery, and scorn for election results. That sets up the irrefutable hypocrisy of agreeing to run for office while in advance defying the outcome (unless you win). Trump is the latest reminder that not only has America fallen short of our declared vaunted aspirations (as melting pot, as beacon of democracy, universal equality before the law). He and his cronies present what happens when a country abandons its best aspirations in favor of a proto-fascist, white supremacist with delusions of grandeur.

One may permanently criticize Trump for bad governance, but not for unintentionally presenting America a clear, paramount choice: either we renew our commitment to a more perfect union, with more common ground and more tolerance, or we lurch again into inept, authoritarian rule where our lowest appetites reign. Tough choice? Let’s not minimize the clarity of directions: either America muddles along, maybe two steps forward for every one backward, or embraces no steps forward and many steps behind. Not a happy choice, but not ambiguous either: two very separate roads diverge in this yellowest of woods.

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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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