The Lies of Donald Trump: An Unsophisticated but Accurate If I Do Say So Myself Analysis
The Vanilla Lie
The Vanilla Lie is a straight-forward lie. Easy to make. Easy to disprove. Simple, if dangerous. But not a lot of fuss. A perfect example of the Vanilla Lie is the No I Didn’t Have an Affair with Stormy Daniels episode.
Everyone knows that Trump had an affair with porn star Stormy Daniels while a) he was not only married to Melania, but, in addition, b) Melania had delivered unto him a son four months previous. He had sex with Stormy and then, when she threatened to tell, he wrote a check for $130,000 to shut her up. He denies it. But everybody knows it’s true including, and this is an important point…including Trump himself.
He’s not the first president to have played around. Nor the first to deny that he did it when everyone knows he did it. I state the previous out of a sense of fair play. But it’s not my point. My point is to explicate the Vanilla Lie, to wit: Trump knew he did something naughty and he didn’t want to get caught. Easy peasy.
The Public Relations Lie
Trump is a PR dude first and foremost. He’s a spin doctor. Some pundits have called him a “cheerleader;” this, they say, is why he tells us that there are plenty of Covid19 tests when there are, in fact, not nearly enough. He knows there aren’t enough because, although he often acts mentally unsound, he’s certainly intelligent enough to hear a fact and take it in, even if he doesn’t like the fact. Surely he has been told (over and over and over) that there are not plenty of tests and thus he must know, somewhere in the depths of his brain pan, that there are in fact not plenty of tests.
But here’s the rub: while he may understand the fact of the test shortage, he actively and passionately does not want you to understand it. This is the cheerleader in him: the person who says, “rah, rah, go team go, we’re number one,” even as their team is going down the tubes, because it’s better, in their opinion, for all of us to think positive. There’ll likely be a better outcome, they think, if we all can “get behind” the lie. To Trump himself, this sort of lie is a good thing if it makes people feel better for a split second. (He also assumes, because he’s spoiled, that if he wants something, it’ll occur, but that’s not lying; that’s just dreaming.) (And, of course, he figures that it’s better for his campaign if things are good rather than bad—duh—and thus he’s looking on the bright side and hoping we are too.)
The problem, of course, is that many of us are adults and prefer information to pablum. We want facts so that we can prepare. We desire the data so as to be able to solve the problem. We deserve the truth rather than a buncha bullshit. Because, while a cheerleader may have his place in games…this virus here? The running of a country? People’s lives and well being? Those things ain’t no game.
The Lie of Arrogance
The third type of lie is the Lie of Arrogance. The Lie of Arrogance is the most insidious and dangerous type of lie because the Lie of Arrogance is the lie that the liar believes himself. An obvious, though not-precisely-Trump-example is Brett Kavanaugh, who got too drunk to remember his misdeed, and then, because of an arrogance borne of privilege, was unable to believe that he had been capable of wrongdoing. He lied, but the first lie he told was to himself.
Trump’s lies of arrogance are epic. He’s the healthiest president ever to have graced the Oval Office. There were more people at his inauguration than at Obama’s. Mexico was going to pay for the wall. He thought the pandemic was a pandemic before anyone else thought it was a pandemic. The phone call was perfect. The malaria drug will cure Covid19.
Because of the way the psyche works, many of his lies begin as one type of lie and end up as another. He’s arrogant when he says that the US economy (pre-corona) was the best of all time, but this lie derives from his ignorance of history and economics. His claim that our elections are riddled with voter fraud (though study after study has proved otherwise) is a PR lie (for his base) but this lie derives from his belief that he knows all there is to know—arrogance at its apex. The aforementioned lies are easily disproved, but Trump is too sure of himself to believe that he could be ignorant of any fact. Ignorance, of course, is not a lie in and of itself, however, in a person who has the opportunity to learn but not the will, it does reflect a less than stellar intellect and a less than sterling character.
A nice example of the way one type of lie changes into another type is Trump’s claim that there are enough Covid19 tests for anyone who wants one. This lie began as a PR lie (as Rachel Maddow describes it, “happy talk”) but has recently morphed into a Plain Vanilla lie: the straightforward I’m-lying-to-get-out-of-trouble lie, in that Trump realized that if testing is kept to a minimum, the numbers of reported cases would be low, comparatively speaking. He doesn’t want to truth to get out because the truth hurts.
The fact is that if Trump were a complicated person, he still wouldn’t be good or interesting or worthy. What’s remarkable is that he’s so damn simple.