Honestly, can you say that it was Donald Trump who brought us to the “post-truth Presidency?”
Many Presidents have preferred political convenience or personal conviction to real candor. Think of Richard Nixon’s “I am not a crook,” as an example of the latter, and Bill Clinton’s “I didn’t inhale,” of the former.
Nixon looked in the mirror and concluded, “I am not corrupt, I have neither robbed nor stolen from the American people, and if, as some say, I occasionally physically abused Pat, it was when I was drunk and, honestly, I don’t remember.”
Of course, when it came to political “dirty tricks” and abuse of Presidential powers as revealed in Watergate, the historic consensus is that Richard Nixon was one of the crookedest Presidents in history.
As for Bill Clinton, his latter-day pot denial, even if true, was a confirmation of an all-too-typical past untruth. When Bill took that joint or pipe and “pretended” to draw on it, whatever the truth hidden deep in his lungs, his action was a simply a performance to make him more popular. Truth had nothing to do with it.
Is there anyone who still doubts that his responses to charges of sexual abuse by Paula Jones, Juanita Broaddrick, Kathleen Willey or Leslie Milwee were less than honest, or that the responses from his wife and other allies in his defense were anything but cruel, misogynistic and false?
Donald Trump, of course, escalates untruth and aggressive abuse of women, in both frequency and amplitude. His daily Twitterings and public pronouncements are a blare of unsupported overestimations and low-blow attacks and sneering discourtesy to women.
Both his personal fame and family fortune are built on lies.
“You’re fired” was a “tough guy” masquerade for a President who hates to fire anybody, the super-patriot who cheated the American government and the American people of tens of millions of dollars in unpaid taxes.
Trump’s worst lies aren’t to make money. Not any longer, now they’re all about political power and survival.
I’m sure the “many fine people” who provoked a racist riot in Charlottesville, Virginia were gladdened by Trump’s charge that demonstrators against the Supreme Court appointment of Judge Brett Kavanaugh were “paid” by George Soros. Who could believe it? A Presidential endorsement of today’s most viral anti-Semitic cliché? How accurate to call it “playing to the base.”
The world has seen this kind of exaltation of prejudice, ignorance and fear before, but never in the White House.
Judicial nominations have seen some bitter conflicts over versions of the truth. But whatever you think of Clarence Thomas’ veracity in recounting his interactions with Anita Hill, think of the nimble way he tried to avoid answering questions about Roe v Wade. He claimed he’d never thought about the most famous, most contentious case of our time until it was brought up to him at his confirmation hearing.
Now, either that was a flat-out lie, or a confession of legal obliviousness that should have ruled him out for our highest court. But nothing stopped him, and what did we get?
Apparently, a man in shell-shock.
Struck mute in sessions of the Supreme Court, Thomas seems to want to hide from the public whom he represents his logic and inclinations. Well he might. And we’re stuck with him for a lifetime.
And now approaching the bench, Brett Kavanaugh, and — by God — he’s approaching from the judges’ side, to take a seat as another lifetime Justice of the Supreme Court.
Jeez, how many lies did that guy spew during his afternoon of rage before the Senate Judiciary Committee? They came in many shades and tones: evasions, eruptions and bare-faced falsehoods.
Let’s start with an obvious lie, that his and his prep school pals’ smutty yearbook references to Renate Dolphin were signs of friendship and inclusion and not boasts of sexual exploitation.
Then there’s the implausible denial, that “the devil’s triangle” references in those same yearbooks had any sexual connotations. Nobody here but us virgins. Or at least as best as I can recall.
Or this self-humiliation of evasion: asked if he’d ever blacked out from drinking, Kavanaugh chose the risky path of direct disrespect for Sen. Amy Klobuchar, “Have you?” rather than answer the question.
For me, that right there was Kavanaugh’s version of Thomas’ “Roe v Wade moment.” Please, God, let neither of them have another.
Pressed on his teenage drinking, Kavanaugh resorted to linguistic trickery, denying that he’d ever gotten blackout drunk “on beer.” Alas, there seem to be numerous people who said they were witnesses to the fact young Kavanaugh drank more than just “suds.”
It’s been credibly reported that there are 42 people willing to swear an oath that they saw Brett Kavanaugh dead drunk, or heard the stories of his alleged sexual attacks on Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez first-hand, from the victims themselves, or in one case, from an eyewitness. None of these potential corroborating witnesses were contacted by the FBI for its “investigation” of conflicts between Ford and Kavanaugh’s testimony before the committee.
Thus, the repeated Republican claim that Senators saw no corroboration of Dr. Ford’s story is a literal truth twisted to absurdity.
For Donald Trump, the best thing about this whole Kavanaugh affair is not that he managed to laminate into the top shelf of our judicial system a known liar and outrageous right-wing ideologue, someone who sounds even more embittered than Justice Thomas.
I would never guess that Justice Kavanaugh will silence himself. Far from it, I expect we’re going to see a Supreme Court career of politically partisan “get-even” that, as President Trump might say it, “no one has ever seen before.”
But, for Trump, the sweetest aspect of this catastrophe isn’t Kav, it’s that he and his willing tools on the Grassley-McConnell Senate team roped the FBI into spectacular discredit. They set self-defeating limits on the Bureau, which to its eternal undermining, the Bureau accepted, and executed.
Now people on both the left and right are mad at the agency whose work will either impeach or indict this master criminal, or let Trump escape.
A post-truth Presidency creates a post-truth Supreme Court, rule of law gives way to DJ Trump’s rule of lies.
Unless…Election Day is just a month away.