Like female mosquitos, transient lies exist to reproduce quickly – but writing history is forever
However painful to live amidst chaos, time eventually asserts consensual truth while eviscerating the legacy of bald-faced liars.Whatever else happens in court, history will make its permanent verdict: truth convicts falsehood as distortion, intentional or not, whether about germs, evolution, the roundness of earth or our modest rung in the solar system. Though pernicious Republican assaults against evidence, logic, and proof are shocking in duration and intensity, this vast fake news conspiracy is stumbling, further doomed to shipwreck. Time and careful research will squash lies into powder—and dramatize how predatory, chronic liars break the bottom-line faith on which civilization depends. Trump, alas, is only the lead actor in the tumultuous GOP travesty.
The good news is that blatant partisan lies, like dissolving hard candies, have finite life spans – reprimanded over time by fact-checking research. Who today depicts Joe McCarthy as nothing more than a calculated, cheap-shot fantasist or Father Coughlin a divisive racist demagogue? What noted historian fails to convict Tricky Dick Nixon as the first, disgraced criminal president, even if now displaced? Admittedly, Trump excels in both the magnitude of his lying addiction plus how cash, media charades, and shamelessness sustain the impact of his lies. Lies corrupt and expose corruption. Thus does comeuppance loom for the only twice-impeached president turned lying-est election defies, then coup conniver. Now that’s a story line with lasting, gruesome appeal.
Imagine the insatiable army digging away to prove that Trump is/was a matchless, congenital liar, whose multitude of slipshod whoppers and duration may well befuddle historians. Expect movies and Broadway productions to address the singular mystery. How could any country with a modern education system spit out so many suckers, forever suckered by the same hustle? No doubt, that’s why Trump had to lie 30K+ when president—never defend or correct or withdraw, just fabricate more. Few Trump lies were canny, but when pitching compliant know-nothings, the bar is stunningly low. That leaves posterity to pour over evidence and function as terriers for truth. While historians have biases, history won’t justify bad, failed lying, whether by LBJ, Clinton or Bush/Cheney. Exposed liars fail the test of time, with spots not at Mt. Rushmore but America’s Hall of Shame.
‘Falsehood flies, truth limps’
Not that scrutiny confirms every truth or assertion. We can’t verify whether Mark Twain originated this famous (savvy) quip attributed to him: “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” Well before that, diverse writers proposed the concept, notably Jonathan Swift in a published 1710 magazine: “Falsehood flies, and the Truth comes limping after it.” An 1821 attribution reported that a statesman remarked, “a Lie would travel from Maine to Georgia while Truth was getting on his boots.” A Chinese proverb identified in 1846 opined that “Error will travel over half the globe, while truth is pulling on her boots.”
The key point is that lies (rumors, scandals, novelty, gossip) attract the ever-pliant. reptilian wiring of the human brain. As Swift explained three centuries ago, lies prey on (willing, short-term) human credulity, “the greatest Liar has his Believers; and it often happens, that if a Lie be believ’d only for an Hour, it has done its Work, and there is no farther occasion for it.” And yet Trump lying is so amateurish, his misconduct so self-indicting, that he invites labels for the era: “The Unbearable Lightness of Stupid Lies” or “The Unbearable Vacuity of Instantly-refuted Lies.” Only last weekend, FL Sen. Marco Rubio caught the contagion, railing against all Democrats as “radical left-wing lunatics, laptop liberals, and Marxist misfits.” Yep, Biden, Manchin and Schumer to a tee.
We need hardly quantify bad Trump lies, from his “record-breaking” inauguration crowd, to getting robbed by a “rigged” election, or to Jan. 6 mobsters as well-meaning patriots (what! Not a Pence lynch mob?). After demonizing the FBI for legally retrieving hoards of illegal documents, Trump this week asserted he’s “as innocent as a person can be.” That laugher echoed his 2020 lie that the Mueller Report author verified “I was the most innocent person he’d ever come across, and maybe in history.” Last April Trump bloviated, “I am the most honest human being perhaps that God ever created.” So, God missed all the 30K+White House lies? That means for every three meals Trump ate (365 days X 4 yrs X 3), Mr. Honesty lied over seven times—and is too compromised to know what he did.
Truth, truthiness and whoppers
Certainly, establishing some “truths” can be dicey, and only precise scientific or mathematical statements, open to testing and falsification, fit snugly in this category. The reliable truth about COVID is it’s highly contagious, with predictable global patterns. Russia did unilaterally invade Ukraine, whatever the history, and did not call it a war of conquest. But overt whoppers are opposite, open to undeniable, logical rebuttal. One may measure voter fraud and confirm legitimacy by retesting the count; a jury decides (thanks to a factual video) whether blackmailing the Ukrainian president (allowing arms for Biden dirt) was not only less than a “perfect” call but grossly, illegally immoral; ordinary people can trust facts to determine whether a president broke election law by pressuring the top Georgia vote certifier to corrupt his own state totals, thus himself commit voter fraud. Reality will out over lies.
In short, whoppers about facts or undeniable evidence, say, or seditious post-election conspiracies (inciting a violent mob, attempting a coup, or endangering his own VP’s life) invite scrutiny that must confirm the necessity of law. Legal inquiry opens intentional falsehoods to accepted methodology, then consensus by people and historians alike. Yes, I anticipate criminal Trump indictments, but I am even more certain there will be comprehensive indictments by scores of historians who will establish, as with McCarthy and Nixon, that Trump is afflicted with the worst form of B.S. disease. Indefensible lies are just that.
On top of slapdash, spontaneous lying, Trump is prone to temper tantrums that only expose what he doesn’t understand, say, about basic investigatory procedures. Ignorance does not serve plausible lying. And of late, Trump lies without prompting or challenge: He just sounds off (if only to fundraise, considering when he hurts his legal position). Despite guilt beyond question,Trump distorts what happened at Mar-a-Lago as an FBI “witch hunt,” just more harassment orchestrated by diabolical enemies out to crush him. But only an unhinged liar then mindlessly whines so loudly out comes the redacted affidavit that makes him look even worse. Only a buffoon would call the most carefully executed subpoena ever as “unnecessary, unwarranted, and unAmerican.” Hardly “unwarranted.” This, after repeated federal demands, even testimony that Trump inspected, handled, and thus saw top secret stamps? “Such an assault could only take place in broken, Third-World countries,” Trump lied. “Sadly, America has now become one of those countries, corrupt at a level not seen before.”
The bottom rung of lying
Of course, this cow paddy of “sadly” outrageous theater demonstrates why Trump is such a bad liar. Keyed to his limitless sense of entitlement, Trump can’t conceive of ever being held accountable. If Trump does it, that makes it not only legal but immune from challenge—a remarkable misreading by God’s icon of honesty. Further, how much does Trump know about “broken, Third-World countries,” let alone historical legal standards, even the meaning of corruption? It’s just empty rhetoric that for a moment sounds good. Already the most indicted president now blasts scrupulous federal investigators, oblivious that in 2016, because of an FBI inquiry alone, Hilary he said was “unqualified” to be president. On tap, targeted T.V. ads leaning on this cosmic contradiction?
Thus do the clumsiest, reckless liars needlessly box themselves in their own corners. Only a malefactor inviting capture (and victimhood) steals tracked secret intelligence from his own White House, then plays the innocent victim by demonizing the law enforcers. For how long does the world’s most scurrilous lying streak continue unabated? Whether explained by derangement, grasping for publicity, stealing info valuable to foreign enemies, or useful as plea bargaining leverage, just this single Trump outrage spans espionage plus obstruction plus malfeasance in protecting intelligence.
Now this serial crime spree is a slam dunk—and what happens when indictment or arrest leads to further criminal incitations to violence. Endless indictments? In the end, Trump’s hallucination that he’s as “innocent as a person can be” will only spur an army of researchers to identify the toxic brew of gall and lying that is Trumpism. Truth will out—during predictable trials and then full historic investigations that honor reality, thus law, thus accountability for everyone. What a novel thought for non-dictators!