I know a lot of people who voted for Trump don’t want to talk about this, but unfortunately, we need to talk about it. However, rest easy. I am not going to try to change your minds. Not yet, anyways…
A few days ago, I was in a discussion about Trump’s alcohol use.
Evidence -- and granted, it was far from conclusive -- was presented that Trump is a closet drinker.
A counter argument was made that he was a teetotaler.
When asked for the source of this counter argument, the answer was Trump claims to be a teetotaler.
Folks, here’s the thing: If Trump is known for one thing, it’s for playing fast and loose with the facts and truth.
Ask him how many rooms he has in his Trump Tower apartment and the number will vary from telling to telling, depending on how many he thinks you’ll believe and be impressed with.
When called on this in the past, his response was, “Who cares?”
Now, certain people are permitted to play fast and lose with facts.
Indeed, we expect it of them.
The late great Carl Ballantine had a comedy-magic act that often included mind reading tricks. He’d recruit a member of the audience -- say a woman in a polka dot dress -- and as he’d finish the trick, he’d add: “By the way, that dress has exactly 247 polka dots on it.”
The audience would gasp in surprise and applaud --
-- but what Carl said was pure B.S.!
Carl had no idea how many polka dots were on her dress, it was just a made up number he threw out to entertain the audience.
See, nobody was harmed, nobody was short changed by Carl’s made up number.
They were entertained, which was what they were in the theater to be.
Nobody missed a meal / lost a paycheck / got separated from their family / deported because Carl pulled an imaginary number out of the air and said it was true.
Donald Trump has played many roles in his lifetime, but unlike Carl Ballantine he is not scrupulous in identifying which role he plays at any given time.
There is Trump the so-called successful businessman, there is Trump the celebrity attention-whore.
In the latter case, it didn’t matter if his facts and figures are all made up in his head: As a celebrity attention-whore his job is to entertain audiences with his B.S.
However…as a so-called successful businessman, it’s his job to give accurate and reliable information to investors and lenders and clients and employees and contractors so they can make informed decisions as to whether or not to do business with him.
And instead of that, he keeps dishing out made up B.S.
Even before 2016, Trump was known for primarily one thing: The complete unreliability of his public utterances. He was a shuck & jive man, a con artist, a slickee boi whom no bank or respectable investment firm would have anything to do with.
He would make up B.S., make up even more B.S., contradict himself with yet more B.S., then B.S. some more to cover up the now inoperative previous B.S. before creating brand new B.S.
Let’s state this as baldly as possible: Trump lies far more often than he tells the truth, and he lies about everything including trivial matters in which he gains nothing by lying.
As a rough rule of thumb, if Trump says something, the chances of it being 100% false are far greater than the chances of it being 100% true, and if there is any scintilla of truth in his utterances, the odds are far greater than most of it is B.S. and very little bears any resemblance to known and provable facts.
It’s one thing when Carl Ballantine was standing on the stage of The Magic Castle throwing out B.S. to entertain a paying crowd.
It’s another when the person occupying the Oval Office throws out B.S. for no discernable purpose.
I’m not pretending previous administrations did not lie: We have lots of examples in our lifetimes of presidents lying.
But the difference is they lied for rational reasons (i.e., they thought they would either gain something or avoid something bad by lying).
Now, before we go further, let me be absolutely 100% clear in what I mean by lying: To deliberately relay information one knows to be false or imaginary with the intent of the person receiving said information believing it to be factual and reliable.
I will cut GWBush slack and say he demonstrated horrendously bad judgment re Iraq, but that he genuinely believed there was a chance Saddam Hussein possessed WMDs and as such was worth the risk to make sure he didn’t.
I will cut Ronald Reagan slack and say his Alzheimer’s disease may have made it impossible for him to remember what was / was not real.
But Bill Clinton absolutely lied to protect himself from political scandal regarding an affair with an intern.
GHBush absolutely lied about non-existent Iraq atrocities in order to justify the war in Kuwait.
Richard Nixon absolutely lied to protect himself from criminal charges regarding Watergate.
Lyndon Johnson absolutely lied about the Gulf of Tonkin incident to justify escalating the Vietnam War and thus escape accusations of being soft on communism.
However, to hammer home the point, they lied for rational reasons, which is to say they knew they were lying and did so to escape what they felt were bad consequences.
Trump lies as a byproduct of breathing. It’s almost refreshing when we catch him lying for rational reasons, because that indicates some degree of foresight and planning.
Usually when he lies, it’s just to win applause and admiration from whoever is within earshot.
So, based on what we know about him, the odds of his claim of being a teetotaler being true are far from 100%.
In fact, it’s one of the few examples of where he actually has a rational reason for lying. If it was known he drank and used drugs (as the late Carrie Fisher believed based on her own personal knowledge of what a coke head looks and acts like), then all his other lies and falsehoods and fantasies and prevarications would snap into sharp focus: No wonder he’s B.S.ing all the time -- he’s an unreliable drunk!
Do I have any hard facts that he drinks, much less is an alcoholic?
But I do have a well documented, long established, and indisputable record of him lying about everything in his life, big and small, important and unimportant, crucial and trivial.
We simply cannot take him at his word on anything, from being a teetotaler to any campaign promise he ever uttered to his statements about his administration’s relationship with Russia.
Meditate on that fact for a moment: He. Can. Not. Be. Trusted. To. Ever. Tell. The. Truth.
For all their myriad sins and shortcomings, Bill Clinton, GHBush, Richard Nixon, and Lyndon Johnson began their administrations with a public assumption that they would not be relaying only false information to the American people.
Indeed, their later lies relied on them starting from a position of trustworthiness, from being able to speak candidly and truthfully enough to the American people to gain the benefit of a doubt when they actually did start lying.
Trump has no trust to lose, because he came into office on a tsunami of B.S. and has just been generating more ever since.
Think about that.
We have a man in the Oval Office who cannot be believed, much less trusted under the most trivial of circumstances.
Now, as of today, most Trump supporters have not yet had what A.A. would call “their moment of clarity”.
Right now Trump still has the appeal of the brash outsider who can change things the way no career politicians can.
(And we’ll sidestep the issue of whether career politicians may know a thing or two about the way government works and that explains why they don’t move as quickly or as extremely as we may like.)
So far Trump has done nothing to create immediate harm for the bulk of Americans, in particular his voters.
But that day is coming.
If he signs the GOP’s proposed health care bill into law, we will see tens of thousands of people die needless deaths, suffer needless misery, and a sharp spike in personal bankruptcies as lack of adequate health insurance forces them to decide between medical treatments or a roof over their heads. (This is not exaggeration; this is what we had before the Affordable Care Act and what they intend to return to.)
He has already authorized one military operation without appearing to understand the value of the intelligence presented to him, and made a judgment call whose responsibility he shirked when he blamed its failure on the generals and admirals who carried out his orders.
He will not hesitate to waste more military lives in vainglorious gestures then blame those personnel when things go wrong.
He is already moving to gut various laws and programs that protect the environment, American health and safety, and otherwise enrich our lives based on his bogus claims that they are (a) unnecessary and (b) will save the country money.
Remember, this is a man who has a long history of never telling the truth.
A man with a long documented history of cheating and double crossing investors and lenders and employees and partners and clients and contractors.
How can you rely on anything he has to say on any topic?
Normally this is the point where the writer of the essay works themselves up into their final pitch, urging the reader to Go Out And Do Something.
And most of you Trump supporters reading this are bracing yourselves, ready to repel any such urging from me.
Not gonna do it.
Wouldn’t be prudent, as GHBush used to say.
Nah, all I’m going to do is close by observing: Trump cannot be trusted. In anything. Ever.
All forms of politics, to be successful, from local to global, require some form of trust. It may be the “trust but verify” of the cold war, but it’s trust.
A leader who cannot be trusted cannot lead.
A leader who cannot lead will always be removed.
I’m not saying dump Trump right now.
I’m saying the inevitable consequence of his untrustworthiness will be removal from office.
You know he lies.
You can’t trust him.
You know you can’t trust him.
I’m not asking you to actually do anything.
All I’m asking is that you keep one thought in mind: It is possible to remove him from office for lying.
You don’t have to want it to happen.
You don’t even have to believe it’s going to happen.
All you have to do is keep a little spot open in your head for this thought: It is possible to remove him from office for lying.
He’ll do the rest.
And when he does…
Carl Ballantine then and now a better choice