Mark Twain, considering his legendary gift of storytelling, knew full well that “the lie” was as important as the truth in certain circumstances. In his satirical essay, On The Decay Of The Art Of Lying, he is both celebrating and bemoaning the right of individuals to lie when circumstances call for it. In his opinion lying was a pedestrian art form; an ad hoc means of pushing a conversation down the road . . . hopefully in the direction the liar intended for it to go. As he saw it, in a perfect world, lying was a means of softening reality, thereby, taking the edge off of the truth to protect those one met during the course of any day.
However, even for Twain, lying had taken on a cynical, corrosive nature that was too commonly used in ways that stepped over a line into a malignant creation that left behind the beauty of the lie when used correctly in polite society. In another piece he wrote,
Anybody can tell lies: there is no merit in a mere lie, it must possess art, it must exhibit a splendid & plausible & convincing probability; that is to say, it must be powerfully calculated to deceive. “The Ashcroft-Lyon Manuscript.”
In full disclosure, I find Twain’s satire about lying hard to square with the utterances that come out of Donald Trump’s mouth. I think Twain would find Trump a “special” case when it came to untruths, their utility, impact and just the preponderance of miss information that can be attributed to the 45th president’s verbal gymnastics. Only the most deluded, partisan blind (and deaf) followers can say with a straight face that Trump is a truth teller.
Whether its Trump himself or Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Don, Jr., Eric, Scott Pruitt or any number of other Trump sycophants doing the lying, no one can deny that the Trump White House is awash with untruths and falsity beyond what anyone has seen in the past. Our president lies on command, and in so doing, allows his troops his tacit approval of following suit. It’s all a part of the clown act that is the Trump administration.
Speaking of clowns, this video takes lying to a whole different level, or rather, the calling out liars, be it the president or those close to him.
They (journalists) take the next step . . . just present the facts. . .The journalists shouldn’t be the one to say the president or his spokesperson is lying . . .
Schlapp goes on to say what this does is it alienates 50 percent of the population and makes them feel like they aren’t credible anymore. How does that work? First of all, if the president or his spokesperson is a bald-faced liar like Trump often is, then facts are not the issue. It’s the lie that journalists seize upon. They are not the ones telling untruths. And how can 50 percent of America think they are not credible any longer because someone points out, “Uh, Mr. President, that is a lie?” Schlapp seems to be referring to Trump supporters. “Oh, sorry 50 percenters, your guy lied, so your lives are worthless?”
And what about his comment that journalists should just present the facts and let the American people make up their own minds. Huh? If the statements in question are lies, they aren’t facts. I think what Schlapp’s real objective here is to say that journalists should not call out the president on lies, thereby making them public record. This allows the 50 percenters to swallow everything Trump says without having the nasty experience of hearing that their orange idol just told a fib, or in most cases, a whopper.
The real issue here is not the lying end of the equation. It is the fact that Trump has a problem with the truth. Twain was no idiot. He understood the expediency of lying to avoid causing harm to another. Yet, his satirical lament about lying underscored the plain fact that the truth is the basis of all interaction in the world whether it be between husbands and wives, the police and the accused or the interaction between a politician and their supporters. Twain spoke of the truth in On The Decay Of The Art Of Lying. He “quotes” an old proverb that states,
Children and fools always speak the truth.
There is some debate dating back to the 14th century as to what this really means. On one level, it implies that children and fools speak the truth while not knowing the implications of how the truth will be received. Any husband understands this implicitly, “Honey, does this dress my ass look fat?” Depending on the individual circumstances, or not, the only answer to this is no, whether it is a lie or not. Children and fools in their naivety see the truth in an unvarnished way. It’s the truth. How can it hurt?
Trump, however, doesn’t make the connection to the truth and a lie. What he says at any particular moment is what’s on his mind. He uses lies to shape his follower’s minds into believing that he has the answers to all of their desires. Schlapp’s attempt to call into question journalist’s motivations about calling Trump and his followers on their lies falls a little flat. Even the Bible addresses this in John 8:32, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
But to Trump, what does this debate matter? He is a con artist that has no moral or ethical center to filter his thoughts through. Trump will say whatever comes to his mind to gain the upper hand. The larger concern is that his supporters know he is lying and simply don’t care. Let’s be honest. Trump will be gone and forgotten soon enough. The problem is the damage his lies do will be around a lot longer than his orange charisma. The harm lies in how his supporters and the false empowerment it gives them will dictate how they go forward.