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Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Destruction of Honesty

Photo from the Slate article on today's press conference, which it called "a stunning display of Trump’s ability to lie, exaggerate, obfuscate, and mislead the public while insisting that it was actually the media who were doing all of those things."

An excerpt from "The National Nightmare Has Just Begun" by Gabriel Schoenfeld, a Republican political advisor, writing for USA Today:
It is not too soon to tally the damage wreaked so far by our 45th president.

Donald Trump's rampage through key institutions is an obvious place to begin. The executive branch of our federal government has never run like clockwork, but in peace or wartime it has rarely been this chaotic. In effect if not by title, the White House now has three competing chiefs of staff, each with walk-in privileges to the Oval Office and each playing our ignorant and impressionable president as if he were a piano. The disarray has radiated outward to the agencies to the nation and even to the world. The botched formulation and execution of Trump’s travel ban, and the ouster of national security adviser Michael Flynn via surprise trapdoor, are of course Exhibits A and B.

The judicial branch has suffered a blow of a different sort, with the president blasting Judge James Robart, appointed to the federal bench by President George W. Bush and confirmed by the Senate unopposed, as a “so-called judge.” Dismissal by the president of the judiciary’s role as a check and balance on his own power could derail our democracy. In a tweet, he has already, and pre-emptively, assigned blame for the next terror attack to Robart and our entire court system. We have been duly warned: Should such an attack come, it will be a moment of maximum danger not only for our safety but also foor our freedom.

Then we have the Republican Party, which, following Trump’s siren song, is committing moral-intellectual suicide. Defenders of religious liberty have turned into proponents of a backdoor Muslim ban. The banner of free trade has been dropped for protectionism. Budgetary thrift has given way to profligacy. So many things the GOP stood for a mere two years ago — good character and ethical conduct, a clear-eyed view of Russia — have been replaced by their opposite. To the party’s leaders, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, political principles are nothing. Political power is all. In their apologetics for the billionaire blockhead at America’s helm, never has hypocrisy been more perfectly distilled.

Our free press remains intact; indeed, it has been rising to the occasion as it has come under assault from a president who, even as he relentlessly castigates it, stays glued to its coverage, obsessing over every criticism and slight. But though the news media are performing their critical function, they are losing — along with our entire society — a more fundamental battle.

Here we come to damage of a different sort: The destruction of honesty, one of democracy’s most fundamental norms.

Trump and his team lie as naturally as leaves grow on trees. America is being polarized along a new axis of division. On one side are dupes, possibly numbering in the millions, who accept the president’s preposterous fabrications as gospel. On the other side are those appalled by the dawn of post-modern America in which truth is supplanted by “alternative facts,” the euphemism employed by Kellyanne Conway, the president’s most brazen flack, for the projectile falsehoods that spurt from her mouth. As every aspiring authoritarian leader grasps — and Trump is no exception — a world without truth is a world without rules, without justice and without the possibility of democratic deliberation.

And in today's press conference at the White House, Trump was caught red-handed dispensing "fake news" himself - kudos to NBC's Peter Alexander for calling him out:

Just for your information fellas, here are the electoral college results for all elections since 1932. The three number columns show, respectively, the total electoral votes, the winner's share, and the runner-up's share.

From Wikipedia.  Click to enlarge.

Update, 7:55 pm: Shep Smith of Fox News, which for many years has been the propaganda mill of the Republican Party, incensed at the way Trump tried deflect attention from his staff's undercover dealings with Russian intelligence by branding all reporters as purveyors of fake news, lashed out at Trump on camera after today's press conference: “No sir. We are not fools for asking the question and we demand to know the answer to this question. You owe this to the American people.”


Nikolaos said...

People outside the US are astounded at what we see. Just amazed.

Frank said...

What I don't understand is: Where were these people like Schoenfeld and Smith six months ago when the rest of us saw the so-called president for what he really was and what he stood for; when lies and obfuscation were so blatant that only a blind, deaf person couldn't see or hear the what was happening daily.

It's encouraging that Fox and some intelligent Republicans are seeing the light, but shame on them for not speaking the truth sooner.

I disagree that the Republican party, according to Schoenfeld, stood for "good character and ethical conduct" only two years ago. That is Bullshit.

The Republican party has, for many years, on both the national and local level, stood for "power and control", restricting the voting rights of minorities, proposing mean-spirited legislation to limit women's access to health care, insuring the failure of the Affordable Care Act, doing everything possible in their anti-LGBT repertoire, obstructing everything Obama and his administration stood for, shutting down government for their own agenda and at the expense of all of the citizens of this country...I could go on.

The Republican part abandoned, years ago, any ethical or good-faith effort to recognize civil rights abuses, to compromise, to work together, or to be independent from the corporate money that ensures their re-election.

I have nothing good to say about the Republican party or their come-lately awareness of the atrocity that is the Trump administration.

Davis said...

Today - finally - NPR's Robert Siegel did a piece on the president's blatant falsehoods (NPR won't use the work lie). Perhaps they are too worried about losing their funding, but it's taken this long to point out thoroughly the latest round of filthy lies. Call them what you will NPR, they are lies.

Russ Manley said...

Nikolaos - I would like to hear more about the reaction from Down Under. We are pretty amazed and astounded here too. Whatever happens, I hope you all will remember that a majority of us voted against the big blowhard, who is betraying all our treasured American values at every step.

Frank - As I have been saying ever since I started this blog, the Republican Party is completely unfit to govern and by any decent standard ought to disappear from our political landscape. Which would still leave room for a proper conservative party - I do believe that a wholesome tension and debate between "liberals" and "conservatives" by whatever names they are called is a healthy thing. One needs both brakes and an accelerator to drive the car, ya know? But the Republicans from Paul Ryan on down all sold their souls to the Devil when they got in league with Trump. And soon they must pay the terrible price. (Cf. Faust.)

Davis - Lies, Lies, Lies, and more Lies, every word. Including "and" and "the."

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