Saturday, March 18, 2017

The brightest shiniest object is an excuse to go to war

The Daily Beast explores the consequences of the continuing assault on the truth in The Liar-In-Chief & The Dangers of Post-Truth Politics. Here are excerpts.

It’s hard to live with a leader you don’t trust. It makes you anxious. Makes you fearful. It’s not really a partisan issue. This president lies as constantly and as brazenly as a used car salesman trying to close at the end of the month.

Every president is supposed to be a paragon of integrity—the world hangs on his every word. The world needs to be able to trust him to understand which way the world’s greatest power will move. But Trump sows chaos by being the opposite of honest—by design.

It’s part of a much larger game that Trumpworld is playing. Trumpworld—by which I mean the major players in the administration: Bannon, Conway, Spicer, Miller, Preibus, etc.—they seem to be constantly telling lies, challenging accepted reality, gaslighting, giving us alternative facts, and spreading fake news.

Make no mistake: Their goal is to delegitimize media. If there’s no trust in media then there’s no objective broker of facts and then you’ve successfully destabilized the truth. You’ve created a climate where there are no agreed upon facts and no objective truth.

This week on CNN Kayleigh McEnany said, “If he said it happened, it did.” That’s an absurd suspension of disbelief. But that’s exactly the posture Trumpworld wants—believe Comrade Trump and do not question him no matter what media says.

… Limbaugh, Levin, and the Fox prime time crew are out there doggedly disinforming people. And at a time when it seems like so many Americans believe so many fake stories and alternative facts, it’s easy to see how dangerous this game is for the country. It’s tearing us apart.

For Sean Hannity to attack objective media (or perhaps I should say for Hannity to figuratively point a laser-sight gun at them) this is not unlike a product knocking its competitor—Coke saying we taste better than Pepsi. Except Hannity is usually undermining the sense of integrity that journalism requires and thus undermining part of what’s needed to maintain a strong democracy.

So maybe it’s not really like Coke saying we taste better. It’s more akin to Delta saying if you fly American you might die. That might make you loyal to Delta in the short term [until AA responds in kind] but in the long run it would kill the airline industry.

This is the game Trump is now playing on the highest political stage. He hasn’t yet accomplished anything legislatively and his Gallup approval rating is hovering around 39 percent, far lower than any president at this point since polling began. What happens when this leader we can’t trust goes lower and lower in the polls? He’s going to need increasingly bigger lies to distract us from the self-inflicted mess he’s in.

And what is the biggest lie of all? What is the brightest shiniest object Trump can toss to the media and the rest of us?

Trump may be ignorant of history, but men like Bannon are not. They know that nothing unites a nation around a President like a war. So what happens when the President we can’t trust says something horrible has happened in another country. We may have a limited way of independently verifying what he’s saying. We won’t know if he’s telling the truth when he says we need to go to war now. What then?

We’re still paying for our mistakes in Iraq. What happens when we lose more American lives over a lie?

h/t Paul McCreary

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