Perhaps it’s the fever that I’ve been battling for the last week but I’m still unable to process the lies being told by Donald Trump and his team, especially Kellyanne Conway and Sean Spicer.
I’m used to lies. Good grief, I’m a divorce lawyer. I tell my clients that one of the primary reasons for pushing settlement is that everybody lies. “When you raise your hand and swear to tell the truth, the next words out of your mouth will be a lie,” I admonish them. “You’ll insist that you are perfect and your spouse is perfectly awful. That will not be true. No one is perfect.”
I also raised a child, was a child, have been married, and matriculate on planet Earth, which, as Sean Spicer can tell you, is “a very dangerous place”. I know that people often tell untruths, partial or otherwise. They shade their words with nuances designed to channel the listener into a direction that just might favor the speaker and not be entirely credible.
Politicians and their spokespersons employ the art of untruthfulness more publicly than the rest of us. Whether they deserve their bad rap as a group or not, undeniably history shows that often politicians spin reality to their own advantage.
Trump and his team have taken lying to a new art form. They seem completely unconcerned about their reputation for honesty. Trump simply states alternative facts whenever the actual facts don’t serve his agenda. We see examples of this every blessed day. Tuesday he told a group of sheriffs that the murder rate has risen to an all-time high when in fact it has been steadily dropping, despite a small spike in 2014/2015. When CNN’s Jake Tapper confronted Kellyanne Conway about Trump’s lies, she defended her boss by faulting the press for not covering times when Trump tells the truth. Seriously. You can’t invent this stuff! She actually did that!
Politifact.com continues to fact-check Trump. His record remains abysmal. And this is what bothers me. I find it appalling that Trump lies more easily than he tells the truth. He lies about questions which can be verified. He lies about big things and small things and relatively minor things and critical things. He tells lie after lie. He uses lies to justify policy, to enhance the seeming popularity of his decisions, and to evade serious questions which the media should be asking in order to keep the citizens informed.
And there is absolutely NOTHING that we can do about it. The checks and balances of this country have been eviscerated because Congress has been become a Trump-tool by virtue of the 48/52 split between the major parties in the Senate.
It does not matter if Trump lies. He knows that. He can say anything he pleases because the rest of American stands completely helpless in the wake of his power.
Put to this test, I reckon that a lot of people would actually tell the truth. What harm could there be? Trump can do whatever he pleases because we cannot stop him. If he and his team had a lick of sense, they would say, “Yes, we know, no terrorists from these seven countries have killed Americans on American soil. None whatsoever. But we have been studying these seven countries, as did administrations before us. And we agree that these seven countries have the right climate and conditions to spawn terrorists that would come here and kill Americans, so we believe it is prudent to put a temporary ban on admissions into the US while we study the current vetting procedures.” If he and his team had a lick of sense, they would have examined folks granted a Visa under the current procedures and determined if they should be allowed into the U.S. They would have exempted green card holders. They would have had a procedure in place to question those landing in airports on the weekend of the travel ban’s announcement, and admit them or not on a case by case basis.
But they don’t need to have a lick of sense, because they hold absolute, unfettered power.
Yesterday they used that power to silence Elizabeth Warren from reading a letter written 30 years ago by Coretta Scott King in opposition to the judicial appointment of Jeff Sessions based upon his demonstrated and documented racist proclivities. Tomorrow they might use that power to invade our homes and appropriate our property. They will lie about it. Because that’s what liars do. They lie because they need to feel justified; because they’ve lied so much that they have no concept of truthfulness; or because they don’t know the truth and speak without advance consideration or research.
Ultimately, liars lie because it’s a tool in the arsenal which they use to get what they want.
We teach our children not to lie. We also tell them, Truth will prevail. Trump and his team defy this concept. In addition to reversing all the progress that America has made in 240 years, Trump and his team have now demonstrated to our children that cheaters do, in fact, prosper.
As for the rest of us, we are left to wonder why we have spent our entire lives trying to be honest, when everybody knows that “nice guys finish last”. It’s a sad state of affairs. Lies and the liars who tell them threaten the fabric of our country. The rest of us, those who ironically still believe in truth, justice, and the American way, must look long and hard at the system which brought us to this terrible moment in time.