Last week I wrote about Donald Trump. Again. I was chided about it, challenged to write about something other than Trump (if I could), told I was being “vitriolic” and, as he was my president, to just “get over it.” (For the record, I had more “atta-boys” than criticisms.)
Those suggestions, that I simply accept his behavior, his policies and his governance without question, got me thinking.
So here’s what I’m thinking:
I’m thinking I can write about other stuff. (Actually, I have. A lot.) I spent most of my career successfully writing about other stuff; whether advertising copy; speeches for three Maryland governors; the Chesapeake Bay restoration; news for community newspapers; or columns here about topics as diverse as Neah Bay, phony companion animals, and gun violence.
I’m thinking “getting over it” is a surrender of my rights as a citizen and my responsibility as a journalist. I can no more get over Trump than I got over Bill Clinton’s immorality, Hillary Clinton’s arrogance; or George W. Bush’s lies about WMDs.
I’m thinking that what shakes me to the core, and drives my focus on Trump, is his lying. Over 9,000 times since he took the Oath of Office.
And as his lying doesn’t seem to bother Trump’s supporters, I’d like to ask them some questions about it:
If your doctor said, “You have cancer,” and you didn’t; or he told you, “You’re cancer free” and you had that terrible disease; how would you react to your doctor’s lie?
If you borrowed money from your credit union, were told the interest rate was 6 percent, and they charged you 15; how would you react to your credit union’s lie?
If your mechanic “fixed” your car and charged you $450, after replacing $25 in parts in less than a half-hour, how would you react to your mechanic’s lie?
So I want to know how Trumpists excuse the president’s lies about fundamental, provable truths and such nationally critical issues as health care; budget and taxes; national security; the environment; sleeping with a porn actress; and everything else that really matters to this country. (Okay, cheating on your wife with a Playboy bunny doesn’t really matter to the country, it’s the lying that matters.)
I won’t list Trump’s litany of lies, it’s too long; so here’s a few of his latest:
Talking about climate change (which he denies) and the Green New Deal, he said, “No planes. No energy. When the wind stops blowing, that’s the end of your electric.” A deliberate lie. (Or utter stupidity.)
Talking about his tariff war with China he said, “Then in 1913, they ended tariffs.” Another easily provable lie. The Revenue Act of 1913, or the Underwood Tariff Act, reduced tariff rates to 25 percent from roughly 40 percent, but did not eliminate them completely. It’s in all the books. It’s a deliberate lie. (Or historical ignorance.)
Trump claimed military spending had reached levels “nobody’s ever heard of.” Using the new official presidential expression, that’s “bull****.” Congress, on-the-printed-record, authorized more military money for several years under Obama. Yet another deliberate lie. (Or near-criminal dumbness.)
When it comes to immigration policy, he says, “Nobody shows up [for immigration hearings]. Three percent of the people come back for a trial. It’s insane.” But his own Justice Department says 70-plus percent showed up in 2017. How can we evaluate the validity of his “National Emergency” or his wall on the basis of yet another shameless lie (or complete cluelessness)?
Next, the vilest, most dangerous, most pernicious, most insidious lie of all: “The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!”
That’s not a deliberate lie. That’s a calculated lie aimed at the long-term destruction of the free press, suppression of independent oversight, nullification of the First Amendment, death of civil discourse, and the crippling of our ability to fairly judge the behavior of our government.
Finally, I’m thinking how can anyone not see Trump’s lies as the greatest threat to Americas since the end of the cold war? How can we believe anything he says, about anything at all, when he lies over and over and over again about everything; and gets caught over and over and over again in his lies?
How can we be silent about his attacks on 220 years of the Constitution, our rule of law, our traditions and our institutions? (Not to mention his pre-presidential cheating, lying, grifting and theft.)
What will it take for Trump’s supporters to view him as the liar that Sens. Ted Cruz and Dick Durban; presidential adviser Kelly Ann Conway’s husband, George; President Jimmy Carter; and 65 percent of Americans view him?
That’s what I’m thinking.
Tom Burke’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.