It’s apparently time to get over our weird attachment to the facts. One of my recent columns from The Guardian (apologies for posting it late):
The late, great Daniel Patrick Moynihan used to say that everyone was entitled to their own opinion but not to their own set of facts. He obviously never imagined a world according to Donald Trump, whose words are as authentic as his complexion.
But don’t take my word for it. Listen to Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s first campaign manager and a CNN analyst, who admitted Thursday that his boss often lies.
Speaking at Harvard’s Institute of Politics, Lewandowski blamed the media for being gullible enough to believe his own presidential candidate.
“This is the problem with the media. You guys took everything that Donald Trump said so literally,” he said. “The American people didn’t. They understood it. They understood that sometimes – when you have a conversation with people, whether it’s around the dinner table or at a bar – you’re going to say things, and sometimes you don’t have all the facts to back it up.”
Lewandowski is correct. This is indeed a problem, and not just for the media. For some reason, the world’s leaders are just as dumb as reporters. They don’t understand that Trump is just going to say things when he doesn’t have all the facts to back it up.
Who would believe the next leader of the free world when he heaps praise on a country like Pakistan, which harbored Osama bin Laden for so long, and has been such a good friend to the Taliban?
The Pakistani prime minister, that’s who.
“Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, you have a very good reputation. You are a terrific guy. You are doing amazing work which is visible in every way,” Trump said, according to the terrific readout from the Pakistani government. “I am ready and willing to play any role that you want me to play to address and find solutions to the outstanding problems. It will be an honor and I will personally do it. Feel free to call me anytime, even before 20 January, that is before I assume my office.”
When the Pakistani prime minister invited Trump to come visit, the president-elect immediately accepted. “Mr Trump said that he would love to come to a fantastic country, fantastic place of fantastic people. Please convey to the Pakistani people that they are amazing and all Pakistanis I have known are exceptional people.”
This is the same Donald Trump who suggested that Barack Obama was too cozy or too weak to deal with terrorism. Trump lambasted Obama for refusing to use the words “radical Islamic terrorists.” In the fantastic country known as Pakistan, they call them freedom fighters.
We ought to just get over it our own weird attachment to facts and words. In dropping our old-fashioned belief in the truth, we might better comprehend how the president-elect saved 1,100 Indiana jobs at a cost of $7m in incentives for the outsourcing employer, Carrier. (Another 1,000 jobs were lost anyway, but who’s counting?)
Some of us are old to enough remember how the Tea Party movement was disgusted by Obama saving the entire auto industry (1.5m jobs) in 2009 at a cost of $9bn. (Cost of Trump’s job savings: $7,000 per job. Cost of Obama’s job savings: $6,000 per job. That’s socialism for you.)
Normally the ethics referees might be loathe to heap love and respect on a president-elect enriching himself while in office, possibly in breach of things like the Constitution.
But all it took was a few simple tweets from Trump – promising a press conference and some documents removing him from “business operations” – to earn a big thumbs up. “Bravo! Only way to resolve these conflicts of interest is to divest,” tweeted the ethics team. “Good call!”
Every now and again, the Trumpistas say something true, and they sound exasperated. Speaking at Harvard, Kellyanne Conway threw up her hands and exclaimed: “Everybody wants to go back in a time machine and do things differently so this result that nobody saw coming won’t come somehow.”
How true. Let’s hope that Jill Stein voters in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin understand that the recount is no time machine. Because they numbered more than Trump’s margin of victory in each state, and effectively handed the presidency to him.
Then again, they may not care about the facts either. As Trump himself likes to say, the system is rigged. It’s rigged in his favor.