Schwab: On brink of war, how to trust leader of 10,000 lies?

We now may be asked to follow a president into war. By what standard can we believe Trump?

By Sid Schwab

Herald columnist

Turns out, truth matters. Turns out, having a “president” who’s exceeded 10,000 documented lies in office, and a party and millions of voters who don’t care, isn’t ideal. Who knew?

If ever it’s preferable to find this “president” believable, it’s as he dangles desire for war. Tells us another country threatens us, violating agreements, moving weapons around ominously, attacking tankers.

Time was, I believed our government wouldn’t lie about war. When in college, I signed a letter to LBJ, attesting that if he says we need to be in Vietnam, we trusted him. Two years later, my graduating class staged one of the earliest war protests, on the occasion of Robert McNamara receiving an honorary degree. Several classmates turned their backs; more walked out; one refused his diploma. By then, my certitude was wavering. When drafted, though, I went. If not me, someone else, I reasoned. Unlike Trump.

And now, this draft-dodging man of 10,000 lies, who gathers around him people similarly disposed, whose appointees turn over like rocks in a tumbler, tells us Iran is making warlike moves. The same man who assured us, after an hour with Kim Jong Un, that North Korea’s nuclear threat was no more; who said he had no business interests in Russia; who still contends Putin didn’t mess with the election and refuses to protect future electoral integrity.

The man who’s broken his promises to replace the ACA with something better; balance the budget; eliminate our debt; protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid; build a Mexico-funded wall. The man who says liberals want to end capitalism and execute newborns. The man who says China, not U.S. consumers, pays his tariffs; whose EPA, disliking death projections from coal-fired pollution, plans to change the projections, and increase the pollution. The man who’s been calling our intelligence officers traitors.

That man. Who continues to insist Hillary Clinton received millions of illegal votes, that his electoral win was a historic blowout, that he barely knew Paul Manafort, that Robert Mueller said there was no obstruction; who’s blocking testimony from witnesses to his obstruction; fires pollsters whose results he doesn’t like, after telling George Stephanopoulos those polls “don’t exist.” Priming us for war on claims he says are true but which our allies insist are false.

Also, he cheats at golf.

No longer is naiveté like mine, back then, an excuse. There remain people who insist Trump doesn’t lie, that he’s fulfilled every promise, that he rescued our economy after Obama, not Bush, crashed it. To such loyalists, truth stopped being important long ago, as they welcome authoritarianism with blinkered enthusiasm, figuring they’ll not be among those endangered by it.

But now we’re talking war. Trump has threatened that, if it comes, Iran will cease to exist; in which case millions will die. Muslims, mostly. Perhaps that’s why so many Trumpists claim Jesus put him in office.

Iran is breaking agreements and mining ships, Trump tells us, after he broke the nuclear pact they were, by all accounts, honoring. In doing so, he goaded them to do the same; yet we’re to believe it’s Iran that wants war. Maybe. But by what standard can we believe this “president,” downstream from his scaturient mendacity? After how many lies is trust extinguished? Fewer than thousands, surely.

Neither owned nor flagged as American, it’s unclear why Iran would attack those ships. Perhaps they did. Shall we go to war, though, to protect Saudi oil? The Saudis, to whom Trump would sell weapons without Congressional approval, whose murders he ignores? Who he wants to build our high-tech weapons? His personal business partners, urging him to attack? And where was that drone, really?

Approaching an election clouded by unfavorable polls and calls for impeachment, Trump faces the very situation in which he claimed Obama would start a war with Iran. Repeatedly, Trump serves his own interests above all else. Reasonable conclusions may be drawn. Based on simple observation, past and present, it’s wise to assume Trump is lying, unless proved otherwise. It is, as we’ve seen, what he does.

Timely update: Last week, I pointed out that would-be despots create enemies for people to fear and hate. At his reelection kickoff rally, rife with animus and paranoia, Trump shouted, “Democrats want to destroy you.” Sharing space with Proud Boys and Q-Anon believers, attendees cheered him and praised the Lord, believing every word. Then, he lied some more.

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