STOP IT: Trump Defends Accusations Cruz’s Father Assassinated JFK, British Wiretapped Him


President Trump won his election because the public perceived him as telling unspoken truths – he was a politically correct avatar of the public disenchantment with politics. Now he’s undermining that relationship with the public thanks to his casual relationship with the truth.

That’s actually too kind. In an interview today with Time, Trump shows that he treats truth more like a prostitute than a lady – every so often, he uses truth for his own purposes, dumps some money on the bedside stand, and then takes off for the missus, power.

Trump sees himself as some sort of seer, which means that even when he says things that are untrue, he thinks they will magically materialize in reality. Thus, Trump told Time:

I predicted a lot of things, Michael. Some things that came to you a little bit later. But, you know, we just rolled out a list. Sweden. I make the statement, everyone goes crazy. The next day they have a massive riot, and death, and problems. Huma [Abedin] and Anthony [Weiner], you know, what I tweeted about that whole deal, and then it turned out he had it, all of Hillary’s email on his thing. NATO, obsolete, because it doesn’t cover terrorism. They fixed that, and I said that the allies must pay. Nobody knew that they weren’t paying. I did. I figured it. Brexit, I was totally right about that. You were over there I think, when I predicted that, right, the day before. Brussels, I said, Brussels is not Brussels. I mean many other things, the election’s rigged against Bernie Sanders. We have a lot of things.

To Trump’s credit, a lot of this is true. It’s also true that many other people held similar beliefs – Trump wasn’t alone in criticizing Huma Abedin and Anthony Weiner, or pointing out a terror threat in Brussels, or pointing out the DNC’s rigging in favor of Hillary Clinton. And more important, Trump’s formulation also doesn’t take into account all of the times he said things that weren’t true, and made predictions that simply didn’t materialize – like, most obviously, his claims about President Obama’s birth certificate. Trump says he’s a “very instinctual person, but my instinct turns out to be right.” He pointed to his supposed belief that he was going to win the election; that’s rewriting history, given that he admitted in December that he thought he was going to lose (“I sort of thought I lost, and I was OK with that”).

Why does any of this matter? Only because Trump’s belief that all of his claims will eventually be verified means that he makes outrageous claims that don’t come true, and undermine trust with the public. He claimed to Time that he’d been vindicated in his “Obama wiretapped Trump Tower” claims by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA); that’s not true. But no matter – Trump explained, “We will see what happens. Look. I predicted a lot of things that took a little bit of time.” Trump said he’d be “proved right” about his unsubstantiated claim of 3 million undocumented votes in the 2016 election (he added, “We’ll see after the committee. I have people say it was more than that”); he said that he’d been backed on his claim of thousands of Muslims celebrating in New Jersey on 9/11. Trump maintains he was right to label Ted Cruz’s father complicit in the murder of JFK: “Well that was in a newspaper. No, no, I like Ted Cruz, he’s a friend of mine. But that was in the newspaper. I wasn’t, I didn’t say that. I was referring to a newspaper. A Ted Cruz article referred to a newspaper story with, had a picture of Ted Cruz, his father, and Lee Harvey Oswald, having breakfast.” In the same interview in which Trump called the National Enquirer a “newspaper,” he called the Wall Street Journal “fake news.” Trump thinks he did nothing wrong in trotting out an unverified report from Judge Napolitano about British intelligence complicity in wiretapping him: “Why do you say that I have to apologize? I’m just quoting the newspaper, just like I quoted the judge the other day, Judge Napolitano, I quoted Judge Napolitano…”

Trump concluded his diatribe with this gem: “Hey look, in the meantime, I guess, I can’t be doing so badly, because I’m president, and you’re not. You know. Say hello to everybody OK?”

This is disturbing stuff, not because the media are honest about Trump or because everything Trump says is important, but because he is the President of the United States. The president has an obligation to tell us the truth, not to express speculation as fact, report rumors as reality, and treat falsehood as verity – and then to justify all that by stating that he’s the president, so it’s fine. It isn’t. It’s immoral. And lies can’t be justified by appealing to the power of the office. That’s the entire problem. The office of the presidency obviously isn’t changing Trump. Which means that he’s changing the office. And if half the population thinks it’s just dandy that the president treats the truth with casual disdain, that’s an even bigger problem than Trump treating the truth like a common harlot.

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