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.
But that’s not lying; that’s just self-promotion. He’s got to keep his supporters’ spirits up. Everybody does that. Besides, the point of his tweet was to shame Paul Ryan and other disloyal Republicans.
As long as he has a good reason. But sure, let’s give Trump the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps he misread the polls or he didn’t read them at all and his aides lied to him and he merely repeated the lie. Or maybe math isn’t the strong suit of this graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s prestigious Wharton School of Business. Maybe history is more to his liking.
At a rally in Kenansville, North Carolina, in September, Trump showed his knowledge of history and sociology when he said, “Our African-American communities are absolutely in the worst shape they’ve ever been in before. Ever. Ever. Ever.”
“Ever” is a long time. Presumably it goes back to at least 1850 when blacks were enslaved across much of the United States, when they had few rights as human beings, when they were bought and sold like property, hunted across borders, often chained and shackled, had limbs amputated to prevent escape, were whipped to death or hung from trees. It was a time when slave women were often raped by their masters and forced to bear and raise their master’s children, children who were often sold to other masters with no consideration for keeping families together. Maybe that’s when African-American families and communities were better off.
Now wait a minute. He did say “African-American communities.” The slaves really didn’t have “communities” of their own. They lived on plantations and such, in white communities. Trump was talking about after slavery, obviously. He was talking about after the Civil War.
Perhaps he was. Trump might have been talking about that grand era of racial equality around the turn of the century when on average more than 100 black people were lynched in the United States each year from 1891 through 1901. Maybe he was talking about even later than that, when blacks weren’t lynched so much but were still segregated from polite white society. You know, when they still couldn’t attend public schools or colleges with whites, couldn’t ride on trains or buses with whites, couldn’t swim in the same public swimming pools or buy homes in the same neighborhoods or get bank loans at the same rates. When black people couldn’t vote, couldn’t serve on juries, and certainly couldn’t marry white people. Hell, they couldn’t even use the same drinking fountains, sit at the same lunch counters, or even be alive in certain towns after sunset without fear of being arrested or lynched. It was a wonderful, carefree time when blackness was regarded as a disease, and white people thought they might catch it if they interacted too closely. Maybe that’s when African-American communities were in better shape than they are today. Obviously, that’s when blacks enjoyed more equality, when they had better jobs and were better able to afford to live in better segregated neighborhoods, better provide for their children, send them to better segregated schools. Everything was better for African-American communities in those days. Better than now, now, now.
Okay, so he gets carried away sometimes. So what? Who doesn’t? He just means that African-American communities are in deep trouble today. I wouldn’t call that a lie. He just exaggerated.
Fine. Let’s take a look at one of Trump’s policy statements. In a campaign event in September, Trump unveiled his child care plan. That would have been enough for most politicians, but Trump being Trump, well, he couldn’t resist the urge while standing in front of a microphone to make an outlandish and indefensible claim about Hillary Clinton. “While critical, meaningful policy work has been done in this area, my opponent has no child care plan,” Trump lied. “She never will. They’ll never evolve into a plan.”
Now, you can say just about anything you want about Hillary Clinton, but don’t say she doesn’t care about kids or that she has no policy proposals to make children’s lives better. Children are Hillary’s obsession, her life’s work. But not only did His Orangeness lie about Clinton’s lack of policy proposals on child care, he also had his daughter Ivanka tell the same lies on his behalf in an interview with Fox News’ Megyn Kelly. A quick glance at Clinton’s website reveals several policy proposals, including ideas about tax incentives, funding increases for Head Start, and funding for on-campus child care. Go see her website for yourself.
Okay, one lie—
One lie? Please. “There’s nobody that has more respect for women than I do,” Trump said during an interview in Nevada earlier this month. Sure, that’s a run-of-the-mill exaggeration. But again, the arrogance! This is the same man who bragged about his impatience and how much he could get away with physically when with a woman. “When you’re a star,” he said, “they let you do it. You can do anything. … Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.” Obviously, Trump has redefined “respect” as well. At least that’s what a dozen women who have accused Trump of sexual assault will tell you.
They’re all lying. Why else would they wait until now to make these claims?
Yes, of course. Trump has similar respect by the way for Mexicans, Muslims, immigrants in general, black people, and subcontractors. Perhaps Vladimir Putin should be more cautious, as Trump has not only declared his enormous “respect” for Putin, Trump has also plainly admired the Russian leader.
Seriously, do words mean anything to Donald Trump? As long as we continue to let him redefine the meaning of words, he will always be the greatest candidate, the best prepared, most well-informed, most politically experienced, honest, forthright, respectful, calm, masculine, rational, and intelligent president in the history of our country. Believe him. Believe him.
Perhaps the best example of Trump redefining our language came the day after the final presidential debate, when he said, before an audience in Ohio, “I will totally accept the results of this great and historic presidential election, if I win.” “Legitimacy,” in other words, is meaningless … unless Trump gets his way. “Democracy” means “whatever President Trump thinks.”
(photos: slate.com, Google Images)