Burke: What’s worse than a lie? Not caring you’ve been lied to

Trump continues to lie because he get away with it; and his supporters have encouraged those falsehoods.

By Tom Burke / Herald columnist

Trump lies. He lies about everything. Big stuff. Small stuff. Stuff that’s immediately and provably a lie. We all know that. But many don’t care.

And that mystifies me. I’m baffled. Flummoxed. I don’t understand how people who wouldn’t tolerate a liar as their doctor or plumber or school teacher or child or friend or governor or judge or priest, minister or rabbi can tolerate a liar for their president.

Now friends and readers ask why I keep writing about Trump’s lying and not about other stuff.

Was it my father, who abhorred liars, that influnenced me? Maybe it’s genetic?

Well, it’s not genetic; it’s simply if a man lies, and lies like Trump, he can never, ever be trusted about anything. Ever. And for a president, our president, your president, trust is the only thing that counts. Because:

When the president talks about North Korean nuclear disarmament, we have to trust him. Our lives depend on it.

When the president talks about trade with China and who pays tariffs, we have to trust him. Our economy depends on it.

When the president talks about medical care and preserving insurance for preexisting conditions, we have to trust him. Our health depends on it.

When the president talks about climate change, global warming and sea level rise, we have to trust him. The future of our children depends on it.

When the president talks about NATO and Iran and Syria, we have to trust him. Our national security depends on it.

When the president talks about Afghanistan being safer than Chicago, we have to trust him. Our cities depend on it.

When the president says Russia didn’t interfere in the 2016 election, we have to trust him. Our fair and honest elections depend on it.

When the president says a phone call was “perfect,” we have to trust him. Our relationships with allies depends on it.

When the president says there was no “quid pro quo,” we have to trust him . Our constitutional democracy depends on it.

When the president says, “Read the (exact) transcript,” we have to trust him, even though, printed on the paper, it says it isn’t a transcript but a summary of the call.

And when the president claims — in front of a crowd of 10,000 — that a CNN camera’s “little red light” turned off and CNN has stopped broadcasting his speech in Tupelo, Mississippi, because he was criticizing CNN, we have to trust him?

Because CNN didn’t turn the camera off. And a live-stream proves every second of his anti-media screed was broadcast and Trump lied to his MAGA audience. (Check the video.)

The poor suckers in the audience who believed him; believed him because he’s their president and presidents aren’t supposed to lie. But Trump lies, provably, publicly, on the record, about the small stuff and the big stuff. He’s provably, publicly, on video lied about North Korea, China, health care, climate change, global warming, NATO and Iran, Chicago, Afghanistan and his extortion of President Zelensky.

So again I ask, how can anyone trust a man who’s lied, and been proved lying, as many times as Donald Trump?

There are some theories. None of them very flattering to Trump’s true believers:

• One says they excuse his behavior because it’s “Trump being Trump.” Meaning he’s always lied: about the Central Park Five, his wealth, his extra-marital affairs, Obama’s birth certificate and being wire-tapped by his predecessor.

• Another theory says MAGAs care more about other things (like judges or Roe v. Wade) than about his lying.

• A third explanation says his statements, whether truthful or not, confirms supporters pre-existing beliefs. So they buy into his b.s. to save their own prejudices.

• Some think he’s simply overwhelmed peoples’ limited cognitive resources with a constant barrage of lies, so they can no longer parse truth from fiction.

• Other’s posit that because Trump repeats and repeats and repeats the same lies over and over and over; and then they are repeated and amplified over and over and over by the likes of Fox News, his campaign surrogates, trolls, bots and the Russians, people who listen to Fox News and think the media is the enemy of the people take his words as truth, even when they are proven lies. (Hitler and Goebbels “Big Lie” theory brought into the 21st century.)

But for me, the reason Trump lies and keeps lying (aside from some sort of mental illness?) is because he’s been able to get away with it. He’s been able to lie, and lie without penalty.

Until now.

So his impeachment defense, which began with, “It was a perfect phone call,” devolved to, “No quid pro quo,” and now has been reduced to, “Yes, there was a bribe, but it isn’t an impeachable offense.”

Wanna bet?

Tom Burke’s email address is t.burke.column@gmail.com.

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