Trump: Does truth no longer matter?
President Trump’s contempt for the truth has become his “defining feature,” said Will Oremus in Slate.com, “shaping everything from how he talks to the views he holds.” Just read Trump’s mind-boggling interview in Time’s latest cover story, “Is Truth Dead?” Asked to explain the countless falsehoods he has uttered over the past two years, Trump shrugs off all responsibility. His claim that President Obama wiretapped his Trump Tower phone? He didn’t mean the wiretapping part literally. “It was just a good description,” he says. What about his baseless accusation that Ted Cruz’s father was linked to JFK’s assassin? “I’m just quoting the newspaper,” he says, referring to the National Enquirer. Generally, Trump says he follows his gut instinct “and my instinct turns out to be right”—adding, “Hey, look, I can’t be doing so badly, because I’m president and you’re not.”
The Time interview is a “particularly helpful document,” said Lawrence Douglas in TheGuardian.com. It provides a guide to the Orwellian “Trumpspeak” now distorting our national discourse. In Trumpspeak, “a speaker can never be accused of lying if he’s simply repeating the statements of others,” even if the original source is a supermarket tabloid or a Fox News phony expert. In Trumpspeak, a statement need not be completely accurate. “Close and maybe are good enough.” Most importantly, if his supporters continue to cheer him, then what he’s saying must be true. “Hey, I went to Kentucky two nights ago,” he says, as proof. “We had 25,000 people.”
Trump’s comments also prove how the president’s mind really works, said Michael Shear in The New York Times. Underneath his grandiose self-belief lies a crushing fear that he’s not smart or good enough and that his critics know it: hence the repeated, bitter references to those who “laughed” at his campaign. But Trump’s closing statement—“I’m president and you’re not”—is most telling of all. To him, his victory in November stands as the ultimate vindication of his lying. The trouble for Trump, says Yoni Appelbaum in TheAtlantic.com, “is that, sooner or later, the truth catches up.” When he was a TV personality and gossip-page star, his lies and exaggerations were entertaining. But now his decisions affect Americans’ everyday lives, as well as the entire world, and bluster and BS won’t get it done.
“Not even an emperor can prevent his subjects from noticing when he has no clothes.” ■