The Redefinition of Donald Trump
By Luis M. Luque
Luis M. Luque is still struggling to finish his first novel. He served as a U.S. Navy mass communications specialist for 20 years and now works as a writer-editor. He is also a 2010 graduate of the Stonecoast MFA program. He and his wife, Vera, live in Newnan, Georgia.
Americans and people everywhere have always lied. To lie is to make a claim you know to be false, to intentionally deceive. We’ve done that since the dawn of time. Imagine the tales concocted to persuade the pharaohs to try to secure their immortality by burying themselves inside giant pyramids. Consider the rich detail of Greek mythology. Try to develop a magician’s act without lies. Tell me a fairytale that’s 100 percent true. As long as people have thought lying could gain them money, advantage, sex, attention, whatever, they lied. They distorted, deceived, exaggerated, concealed, omitted, ignored, stretched, deflected, prevaricated, misdirected, redirected, deemphasized, reemphasized, reimagined, and invented. Whatever you call it, it’s a lie, and we’ve all told whoppers.
But to people who believe we have just recently emerged into a post-fact world and disgustedly point to the cascade of lies vomited from the mouth of one Donald J. Trump as proof, I would only say it’s not that Trump lies more or that he lies worse or more blatantly, it’s that his lies are so easily proven to be lies that disgusts us most. He’s a terrible liar. He lies like a 4-year-old. Trump lies because he doesn’t know or care about truth. Truth is irrelevant to his existence. He has redefined the entire notion. If Trump says something, it’s true, period. It must be true. And if someone disagrees with Trump, well, obviously that someone is lying. It’s that colossal arrogance that is new to the American political scene, the arrogance to completely disregard truth and facts and objectivity on any level, in fact to redefine those words, the willingness to present with a straight face the world according to Trump, and to ferociously attack those who disagree with his presentation.
Checking the veracity of any significant claim in a Trump speech is pointless. You know he’s lying immediately. During a rally in Ambridge, Pennsylvania, October 10, Trump was going on one of his typical rants about how Americans and the United States don’t win anymore because the rest of the world has surpassed us. “It’s like you have to be a grand chess master,” he said. “And we don’t have any of them.” This was news, of course, to the 90 grandmasters (the correct term) living or playing for the United States, third most in the world behind longtime chess powerhouse Russia (234) and barely behind Germany (91). Former world chess champion Garry Kasparov commented on the timeliness of Trump’s comment in a comical tweet: “Proud to see Trump knows as little about chess as anything else. Team USA just won gold at the Chess Olympiad!” This was quite an achievement, by the way, considering Team USA placed above Russia, China, Ukraine and other perennial chess powers to win gold at the event for the first time in 80 years.
So, he has no idea and doesn’t care about chess or grandmasters. Big deal. That’s not important. That wasn’t a lie. He was exaggerating for effect. Who gives a damn about chess!
First of all, no need to shout. I can hear you from here. I was merely providing you an example of how easily Trump’s claims are proven false. Let’s take another recent example. A couple of days after his second debate with Hillary Clinton, Trump tweeted: “Despite winning the second debate in a landslide (every poll), it is hard to do well when Paul Ryan and others give zero support!”
“Every poll.” Four national scientific polls declared Clinton the winner of the second debate by an average of 13 percentage points, 47.5 to 34.5. In fact, no scientific poll declared Trump the winner. None. Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada. Nothing. Not one single scientific poll. Now, if losing by an average of 13 percent in four polls represents a landslide victory to Trump, then he has redefined “winning,” too. He will likely “win” the election under his definition. I’m sure he’ll continue to claim he “won” even as Clinton is taking the oath of office. (more…)