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Trump’s Cult Of Lies

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Trump’s Cult Of Lies

Protesters picket outside the event site before Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump begins a rally with supporters in Albuquerque, New Mexico, U.S. May 24, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”

            –Voltaire, 1698-1774

The first thing to understand is that before it’s a presidential election, it’s a TV program. To the suits at CNN, NBC, and Fox News that means it’s about ratings and money. So of course they’re going to play it as a cliffhanger.

Do they ever say “Tune in Saturday to watch the Alabama Crimson Tide humiliate hopelessly overmatched Kent State!”


So it’s going to be with Trump vs. Clinton. Almost regardless of what political scientists and number-crunchers say, the race will be depicted as a nail-biter. The fact that Charles Manson could win Texas’ electoral votes with an “R” after his name, while Democrats could take Massachusetts with a Kardashian sister, will prolong the manufactured suspense.

It’s going to be a very long six months.

Even so, it’s hard to imagine a manifest fraud like Donald J. Trump becoming president of the United States. Surely voters have too much self-respect.

“If Trump came to power,” writes Adam Gopnik, “there is a decent chance that the American experiment would be over. This is not a hyperbolic prediction; it is not a hysterical prediction; it is simply a candid reading of what history tells us happens in countries with leaders like Trump. Countries don’t really recover from being taken over by unstable authoritarian nationalists of any political bent, left or right—not by Peróns or Castros or Putins or Francos or Lenins or fill in the blanks.”

All politicians fudge the truth, exaggerating their successes and minimizing their failures. Trump, however, takes it to a different level. He’s a contemporary version of Baron Von Munchausen, an 18th century literary character whose wildly exaggerated military exploits—riding on a cannonball, voyaging to the moon—made him a comic-heroic favorite for generations.

Trump tells falsehoods so brazen as to redefine political lying. To see what I mean, let’s compare a couple of Clinton classics that emailers harangue me about all the time.

“I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.”

The beauty of this Clintonian masterpiece lies in the fact that people often misquote it—changing “sexual relations” to “sex.” Because according to the evidence assiduously gathered by independent counsel Kenneth Starr, it’s literally true and therefore perjury-proof.

Cunning and deliberately deceptive, yes. But sexual relations means “intercourse,” and that supposedly didn’t happen. Cute, huh?

That’s Bill Clinton.

Readers who have never lied about sex are encouraged to vent.

Then there’s Hillary infamous Bosnian adventure: I remember landing under sniper fire,” she told a 2008 audience. “There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles.”

Confronted with CBS News footage that showed her walking calmly across the tarmac of Tuzla airport from an Air Force C-17 in 1996, Mrs. Clinton basically blamed an overactive memory. She’d actually written about the incident in her 2003 book “Living History” without mentioning the imaginary snipers.

Her press secretary later explained the possible origin of Mrs. Clinton’s false memory: “We were issued flak jackets for the final leg because of possible sniper fire near Tuzla. As an additional precaution, the First Lady and Chelsea were moved to the armored cockpit for the descent into Tuzla.”

She won’t say so but I’m guessing Hillary got scared, and her mind played a trick on her. Confronted with the discrepancy, however, she owned it.

Suffice it to say that is not the Trump method. With a background in professional wrestling, he understands that there’s a vast audience out there only slightly more discerning than a potted geranium and willing to believe (or pretend to believe) damn near anything.

Trump doesn’t trim or embroider as much as invent huge, thunderous fictions aimed at boosting himself or hurting his enemies—evidence be damned. In Trump World, facts don’t exist. He cannot be shamed.

Trump went on Morning Joe recently to attack Hillary’s terrible judgement about Libya. See, if people had listened to Donald, the U.S. would never have helped NATO overthrow Ghaddafi.

“I would have stayed out of Libya,” he affirmed.

Except that Trump shot a video back in 2011 urging an immediate invasion: “Qaddafi in Libya is killing thousands of people,” he said then. “Nobody knows how bad it is, and we’re sitting around, we have soldiers all [around] the Middle East, and we’re not bringing them in to stop this horrible carnage… Now we should go in, we should stop this guy, which would be very easy and very quick.”

The candidate does this stuff every day, on every imaginable topic. It’s brutal, demagogic make-believe, demanding his followers blind themselves to reality and enlist in his cult of personality.

So who are you going to believe, Trump or your lying eyes?

Photo: Protesters picket outside the event site before Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump begins a rally with supporters in Albuquerque, New Mexico, U.S. May 24, 2016.  REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Gene Lyons

Gene Lyons is a political columnist and author. Lyons writes a column for the Arkansas Times that is nationally syndicated by United Media. He was previously a general editor at Newsweek as wells an associate editor at Texas Monthly where he won a National Magazine Award in 1980. He contributes to Salon.com and has written for such magazines as Harper's, The New York Times Magazine, The New York Review of Books, Entertainment Weekly, Washington Monthly, The Nation, Esquire, and Slate. A graduate of Rutgers University with a Ph.D. in English from the University of Virginia, Lyons taught at the Universities of Massachusetts, Arkansas and Texas before becoming a full-time writer in 1976. A native of New Jersey, Lyons has lived in Arkansas with his wife Diane since 1972. The Lyons live on a cattle farm near Houston, Ark., with a half-dozen dogs, several cats, three horses, and a growing herd of Fleckvieh Simmental cows. Lyons has written several books including The Higher Illiteracy (University of Arkansas, 1988), Widow's Web (Simon & Schuster, 1993), Fools for Scandal (Franklin Square, 1996) as well as The Hunting Of The President: The 10 Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton, which he co-authored with National Memo Editor-in-Chief Joe Conason.

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  1. PrecipitousDrop May 25, 2016

    Thanks, Mr. Lyons.
    Will you permit me to shout this piece from every rooftop in my Trump crazed city?

  2. FireBaron May 25, 2016

    Donald Trump appears to believe that whatever comes out of Donald Trump’s mouth at any given instant is the unvarnished truth, regardless of any evidence to the contrary, and regardless of any previous statements he made that refute what he just said.

    1. charleo1 May 25, 2016

      I think the medical community refers to that as a pathological mental condition, or personality disorder. That could be a precursor to a psychotic episode leading to a complete loss of touch with reality. In other words, just the kind of person we need picking the next 3 Supreme Court Judges, and carrying around the nuclear codes.

  3. charleo1 May 25, 2016

    I’ve had my disagreements with Mr. Lyons in the past. But after reading this offering, all is forgiven. Huge fan of Gene Lyons. (Sorry about calling you a hack.)

  4. InformedVoter May 25, 2016

    Let me get this straight, a Democrat lies and it’s not a lie, just a fib. But when a Republican tells the truth, but the left doesn’t like it, they call it a lie.
    Charleo1 was correct when he, on several occasions, called “Liens” a hack.

    1. charleo1 May 25, 2016

      Well, there a lie, lots of lies, half truths, and embarrassing exaggerations in politics, and always have been. But then there is Trump. Where a story he has completely made up, or gotten off the internet, been proven false time and again over the years. So, has absolutely nothing to do with the truth. But he’ll stand by that story to the point where one is prompted to question not only his honesty, but his sanity. That goes way beyond the Left just not liking the story.

      1. InformedVoter May 25, 2016

        Trump’s statements have been proven to be true. Hence, to call them lies leads to my statements being true. Trump said the illegal population were “rapist, etc” and within 24 hours mountains of proof surfaced, yet low information folks like you continue to say he was lying. All Trump can do is to state the truth, but if one is too stupid to recognize or accept the truth, then that person is just lying to themselves.

        1. The lucky one May 25, 2016

          “if one is too stupid to recognize or accept the truth, then that person is just lying to themselves.” yup and you’re the proof of that.

          1. InformedVoter May 25, 2016

            So you are saying you don’t believe the facts and just stick to believing the lies the media fabricate. You help prove my position that lefties are truly low information “people”.

    2. atc333 May 25, 2016

      Considering that Republicans have owned the rights to most lies told in elections for the past 8 years, as determine by Politifact, ,and Trump’s 7% truth, vs. 75% lies as also determined by Poltiifact, perhaps you might want to consider a new “moniker for your posts.

      1. InformedVoter May 25, 2016

        Considering that Politifact is a left organization, it’s no surprise they have altered the data to reflect their opinion, and not necessarily the truth. Trump has had his statements vetted and proven to be true. Hillary continues to flaunt “what difference does it make now?” in peoples’ faces and you low information folks just lap it up!

  5. RobertCHastings May 25, 2016

    Trump has tipped his hand as to his choice of a running mate. With his recent assertion as to the death of Justice Scalia, Trump has joined forces with Jesse Ventura, the only other former presidential candidate to support conspiracy theories as an historical force.

  6. I of John May 25, 2016

    Well written piece. I like how all the media nonsense is dispensed with.


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