In one of my favorite episodes of “Seinfeld” George is giving advice to Jerry who has been asked to take a lie detector test to determine whether he does or does not watch a soap opera every day. He is seeking to impress a cute policewoman and is afraid the truth will put her off. George is giving him advice because George is so good at lying; it has become a habit with him. He tells Jerry, “it’s not a lie, Jerry, if you really believe it.”
Needless to say, this doesn’t work, because Jerry simply cannot keep up the ruse. But it seems to be working in today’s political scene as the Republican candidate (who shall remain nameless if not blameless) seems to be very good at lying. I suspect he has had a great deal of practice — after all he claims to be a successful business person when, in fact, his businesses have a habit of failing. But I also suspect that he really believes what he says. Or, perhaps, he doesn’t know what he says because he doesn’t listen to himself. His mouth seems to open when his brain is engaged elsewhere — heaven only knows where.
The problem is that his mindless minions who hang on his every word and grammatically incorrect sentence seem to believe whatever he says. One thinks of a cult where the followers blindly follow where the leader leads — or points. And this is a problem because when the lie becomes the norm, then facts are useless, even meaningless. Truth becomes merely a word that is used by critics to shame their leader who can do no wrong. Those “Fact-checkers” who claim to be neutral and only interested in setting the record straight are dismissed as biased and perhaps even in the pocket of the opposition.
Freud talks about the “reality principle” that operates as one grows older, separating fact from fiction, truth from myth. This principle is central to maturity in the human animal. Without it, he or she remains a child living in a make-believe world in which everything goes as planned and there is no pain or suffering. This, of course, is the world of those who continue to insist that there is no Truth (except what comes from one man’s mouth) and where lies are otherwise the norm. Reality is displaced by myth and the leader standing before you is larger than life and beyond reckoning. What others say about him are all lies. Everything he says is solid gold.
What happens in this case — and it is this case which is of major interest since so many seem to be living in this mythical world where one man has all the truth there is and everyone else is an inveterate liar — is that ears are closed to the truth as it relates to the real world: the real world has ceased to exist. The only world is the world in which the man standing before you says whatever comes into his head and it is taken for the truth, the only truth there is. Everything else is a lie, the only lies there are.
Philosophers will tell you that truth is attached to statements that correspond with facts in the real world. Thus, if I say the cat is on the mat, this is true if, and only if, the cat is, in fact, lying on the mat. But when the successful businessman standing before us tells us that the truth is what he says, and what he says alone, then the cat disappears and the only reality is the reality created by this man’s words — such as they are. We hear what he wants us to hear and nothing else. Our minds become closed to the fact-checkers because we are told they are biased. The word “lies” attaches only to those things said by those who oppose this man. The paradox is that he lies when he says that others lie. But we are no longer able to distinguish between the lies and the truth — except when it is pointed out to us by our infallible Leader.
Great and timely post, Hugh. “The Man without a Truth” has a new ploy which he has used twice in the past ten days. When caught in a lie, he has now says it is your fault as he was using sarcasm. Based on this new ploy:
– it is sarcasm when he invited the Russians to hack Clinton emails.
– it is sarcasm that he said Obama and Clinton are founders of ISIS
Although, he said it was not sarcasm, he said it is Clinton’s people fault for interpreting his veiled threat of a second amendment solution toward Clinton as a suggestion of violence.
I guess he was using sarcasm when he ridiculed , groups and individuals. When Michael Hayden, former CIA director and one of the 50 signers of the letter saying Trump is unstable and unfit, was told by someone who knew Trump that private Trump was not like that, Hayden said “well why don’t you get that one to run?” He added this is an interview for the highest office in the land and an important position in the world, so we must vote on what we see.
I must be wrong and Trump corrected me in a recent interview: “I’m a truth teller. All I do is tell the truth. And if at the end of 90 days, I’ve fallen short because I’m somewhat politically correct even though I’m supposed to be the smart one and even though I’m supposed to have a lot of good ideas, it’s OK. I go back to a very good way of life.” (It can’t be too soon for me!)
This whole endeavor has to impact his business. Better to be thought a fool, than open your mouth and remove all doubt. I read today he is many small lawsuits going on right now. He stiffed a painter out of $250,000, which is probably not peanuts to the painter and is in court. He changed the by laws to a club he purchased and is reneging on paying deposits back to members who want to leave. Et cetera. This man screws over most people he deals with. Keith
One must wonder if he has told so many lies that he no longer remembers the truth? Great post, by the way!
Many thanks. I doubt he would know the truth if it bit him in the butt!