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THOMPSON: Donald Trump's problem with the truth

March 27, 2017 - 12:00 PM

 


OPINION


Just days into Donald Trump's presidency, I wrote a scathing indictment of his inability to tell the truth. Lying - like a virus - has affected the president's staff, surrogates and spokespersons. My opinion piece about the Trump administration's aversion to truth was backed by obvious facts, and I stand by my earlier comments steadfastly.

I planned to write another piece after President Trump's first 100 days in office to gauge progress on issues like healthcare, terrorism, trade and the budget. However, here we are just two-thirds toward that milestone, and I'm writing about the same dreadful malady...President Trump's apparent complete disregard of facts in favour of his fiction.

Trump started playing fast and loose with the truth early on. Offended by photos - later to include official U.S. Park Service photos - that showed a much smaller crowd than President Obama's two inaugurations, he took the offensive in his first full day in office.

Standing in front of the north wall in the lobby of CIA headquarters in Langley, VA - a Memorial Wall emblazoned with 117 stars representing those who gave their lives supporting the U.S. -President Trump barely acknowledged the sacrifices. Instead, he focused on early revisionist history...talking about how the news media lied about how many gathered to see his swearing-in ceremony.

“I turn on one of the networks, and they show an empty field,” Trump complained to those gathered at the CIA. “I'm like, wait a minute. I made a speech. I looked out, the field was, it looked like a million, million and a half people.”

President Trump claimed - and later Press Secretary Sean Spicer asserted - that the crowd was packed "all the way back to the Washington Monument." We know that was not the case.

The plain, simple, unadulterated truth is that the crowd was nowhere near as large as President Obama's two inaugurations, and even smaller than President George W. Bush's. President Trump's guarantee of the largest crowd ever was a lie...and neither President Trump nor Press Secretary Spicer ever admitted it...or apologized.

Don't get me wrong, I don't care about the crowd size. Most intelligent people don't. What we do care about is that someone holding the most powerful position in the most powerful government in the world would lie about something so insignificant. Everyone should have been alarmed at what could...and would follow.

Remember, during an 18-month campaign, Trump peppered his rallies with "believe me" more often than a five-year-old caught in a lie. Unlike most five-year-olds, who eventually admit lies, he doesn't. That's infuriating and insults the intelligence of every adult...and most children.

Let's fast forward to President Trump's run-ins with truth in recent weeks. Unlike the childish insignificance of crowd sizes, on Saturday, March 4, President Trump begins a series of four tweets at 6:35 a.m. from Mar-a-Lago, the southern White House.

"Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my "wires tapped" in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!"

"Is it legal for a sitting President to be ‘wire tapping’ a race for president prior to an election? Turned down by court earlier. A NEW LOW!"

"I'd bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election!"

"How low has President Obama gone to tap my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!"

The tweets are, once again, childish...but the stakes are much higher than mere lies about crowd size. He accused the previous president - Barrack Obama - of felonies...illegal wire tapping and a cover-up...both impeachable offences.

Of course, President Trump provided no evidence to support these wild claims...because there is none! And on March 20, FBI Director James Comey confirmed this fact when he told the House Intelligence Committee that he had "no information that supports those tweets."

"All I can tell you is we have no information that supports them," Comey said. So, President Trump lied. Please, readers, don't try to put lipstick on this pig and make President Trump's actions seem anything less than what they are...lying. Supporting a known and proven liar in the face of overwhelming facts makes you look stupid.

Of course, Trump supporters - not to mention President Trump himself - should have known that it is impossible - yes, impossible - to direct electronic surveillance in some willy-nilly fashion on anyone in the United States. Period. The President of the United States CANNOT unilaterally order a wiretap. After Justice Department review, a legal application must be made to and approved by a sitting federal judge, who only then can then make the wiretap order.

President Trump and minion Sean Spicer, then revised their claim last week, saying that President Obama used British Intelligence to wiretap Trump Tower...until the British refuted that and demanded an apology.

So, last Wednesday, an editorial in The Wall Street Journal - owned by media mogul Rupert Murdoch - signaled how dangerous the president's proclivities for lying have become. After all, Murdoch also owns Fox News Channel and The New York Post, bastions of right-leaning, conservative thought and opinion.

The editorial harshly rebuked President Trump, who still refuses to back down from his ridiculous and slanderous claims that then-president Obama illegally wire tapped Trump Tower.

"The President clings to his assertion like a drunk to an empty gin bottle,” the editorial said, adding that he is undermining his own presidency “with his seemingly endless stream of exaggerations, evidence-free accusations, implausible denials and other falsehoods.”

I didn't vote for President Trump. I know him personally, which means I know too much about him. He is a liar, he is a womanizer, he is not an accomplished businessman. He is an egocentric fraud.

That said, I want him to succeed. I want him to lead America...provide universal healthcare, protect Americans from terrorism and live up to his promise to "make America great again."

But, increasingly, I believe he is incapable of keeping many of his promises. His lying has so damaged his credibility that he risks not being believed when - not if, but when - a world crisis arrives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for his action. Will Americans believe the man that seems addicted to lying? 

President Trump's approval rating has slipped into the 30s...and it will likely slide further as he completes his first 100 days in office in April. His success or failure is in his hands. Soon, nothing - not even the biggest lies - will insulate him from the inevitable loss of respect among Americans. Change your ways, Mr. President, before it's too late.

– Don Thompson, an American awaiting Canadian citizenship, lives in Vernon and in Florida. In a career that spans more than 40 years, Don has been a working journalist, a speechwriter and the CEO of an advertising and public relations firm. A passionate and compassionate man, he loves the written word as much as fine dinners with great wines. His essays are a blend of news reporting and opinion.


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