Lies, Damn Lies, and Alternative Facts
In a prior post Aardvark pondered whether The Donald most closely resembles (a) Pontius Pilate, who was cynical about the truth, or (b) Don Quixote, who looked at windmills and saw dark knights. I concluded that the better answer is (b) Don Quixote.
I carry the discussion forward in this post. It may suffer from confirmation bias. But, like Don Trump and Don Quixote, Aardvark sees what he sees.*
I refer to the hilarious Meet the Press transcript, where Chuck Todd asked Kellyanne Conway why the new press secretary so adamantly shouted lies about inauguration crowd size and berated the press for printing accurate information. Ms. Conway responded by filibustering manfully, persistently, and tenaciously. Serving up great, heaping portions of word salad, she refused to defend Mr. Spicer’s lies of yesterday, or to deny that they were lies. But she was deeply, deeply offended that Chuck Todd asked the question. That he persisted in demanding an answer she took as a grave attack on her character, and indeed on all that is holy.
To Ms. Conway’s credit, however, she did add the term “alternative facts” to the English lexicon, as a synonym for “lies.”
What the hell is going on here? Here is the explanation that, IMHO, best fits the facts.
I think that Delusional Donald looked over his inaugural crowd and saw, through his mental rose colored glasses, the most stupendous crowd in the history of the galaxy. When newspapers reported otherwise, he became incensed. I suspect his anger was real, not feigned—of a piece with how Don Quixote would have felt if he read in the Washington Post that he was tilting at windmills.
I think that, in a rage, Delusional Donald ordered his press secretary to go into the press room and dish out some unmitigated hell. I have no basis for speculating on what was or was not said in response, but in the end Sancho Panza did as he was told to do.
The next day, when the result was not good, the Pontius Pilates who surround Delusional Donald seem to have taken thought about what to do. I believe their thinking may be reverse engineered much along these lines.
Point A. Our great strategy—as our man laid out in his inaugural speech—is to insult, bully, and bluster the 535 empty suits in Congress.
Point B. The empty suits may resist our insults and bluster on occasion, at least at first, and in a limp wristed way. When they do resist, we will call on our cult followers to rise up and echo our bluster and bullying, which will scare the holy crap out of the 535 empty suits.
Point C. To effectuate this strategy, we must keep our cult followers in a constant state of high dudgeon. (If not, having no friends at all in Congress, we will be run out of town on a rail, and the luckier among us may escape with fairly light sentences.)
Point D. A tried and true method of bringing about this constant state of high dudgeon is to claim victimization by the dishonest press—a theme the cult followers are inherently inclined to believe.
Point E. Unfortunately, whatever else may be said about the mental faculties of our cult followers, they do have eyes. It follows that if we tell lies about something they can literally see for themselves, we will begin to lose them. In fact, some of them are already on the way out the exit, which is why our crowd wasn’t any bigger, which is where this vicious circle started.
Point F. It follows as the night the day that we need to clean this thing up, or at least keep it from getting worse. So, when we are on the talk shows on Sunday, let us respond to any and all questions about crowd size by being shocked, surprised, and deeply saddened that someone would make inquiry on the topic. That’s our story, and we are sticking to it.
I doubt whether they also consciously planned to bring a whole country’s ridicule down on their heads by inventing a new term for lies, “alternative facts.”
As my dear departed Grandma Aardvark used to tell my young self, “Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.”
* The invaluable Vasari has called my attention to this article, written by someone who is actually qualified professionally to speak on this issue: The Mind of Donald Trump: Narcissism, disagreeableness, gradiosity—a psychologist investigates how Trump’s extraordinary personality might shape his possible presidency.