Later in the interview with Pence there was an exchange in which he denied that Trump was practicing crony capitalism and picking “winners and losers” in bribing Carrier to keep several hundred jobs in the U.S. “I don’t think it’s picking winners and losers at all what — what — what the president-elect did with Carrier was simply reach out one American to another and just ask them to reconsider.” It’s just, you know, picking one company to call and offer $7 million to change a business decision. What?! This is double-talk that insults the American people’s intelligence.
Whether it is his top aides or the president-elect interviewers would be well advised not to let falsehoods, deception and double-talk go unaddressed. Governing by deliberate lies is the stuff of autocrats who demand their people believe them rather than reality. John Paul II understood this about Communist Poland:
He never overtly espoused any particular political agenda, but he lived his life according to the famous saying of the 19th century Polish poet Cyprian Norwid: “A man is born on this planet to give testimony to truth.” As a bishop and then as pope, Wojtyla kept urging his countrymen and everyone else to “live in truth.” Nothing could be more subversive in a communist system based on lies. His credo proved to be a highly contagious idea picked up and expanded upon by dissidents like Adam Michnik in Poland and Vaclav Havel in Czechoslovakia.
Trump’s assault on the truth goes a long way toward explaining his unhinged attacks on the media. He and his advisers scream bloody murder when the press reports his own words. That’s not “dishonest” or “liberal bias” as he says — it’s reporting on the objective reality (what came out of his own mouth), something that threatens Trump’s stranglehold on the national conversation. His bizarre notion that we should not take him “literally” (i.e., expect him to believe what he says) sums up the Orwellian world in which he operates.
All politicians shade, spin, exaggerate and from time to time lie. Never have we had a president, however, for whom lying is the essential component to his governing strategy. Normally, we would say that it is up to the media and to honest officials of both parties not to let a president get away with national gaslighting that enables him to avoid honest debate and scrutiny. Unfortunately, Republicans have a severe shortage of honest, brave souls and Democrats are written off as partisans. Conservative media resorts to explaining how the lies don’t matter or how they do matter rather than focusing in on the lies themselves. No wonder Trump attacks the media — it’s the only thing preventing him from absconding with reality.