Trump Has Told 10,000 Lies And The Truth Will Not Set Us Free
If there is one thing I know for sure about people, it is that most of them assume that other people think and act like they do. Everyone who has ever dated anyone knows that 9 out of 10 times, the person who is extremely jealous and paranoid about you cheating on them is definitely cheating on you. People who lie all the time assume everyone else is lying all the time as well. Gossips assume everyone is talking about them behind their backs. This goes for good or completely neutral qualities as well. If you are not a manipulative person, it may not occur to you that someone is messing with your head.
This is something we do in politics a whole lot, especially when it comes to Trump. We assume that the things we find repulsive about him are things other people will find repulsive about him as well. We think, for instance, that those people are going to read that Trump told his 10,000th lie this week and begin to question whether or not they should support someone who lies that much. We get mad, rightfully, when the New York Times refers to an obvious lie as "repeating an inaccurate refrain."
We think "How on earth could you trust someone who lies that much? Or, at the very least, not think there is a little something wrong with them? DO YOU NOT KNOW HE IS LYING?" If someone lied to us that much, we would find that insulting.
We assume they must not know that he is lying, that somehow they believe everything he is saying is true. We believe, on some level, that if they knew he was lying, they would realize that he is terrible.
The truth is, they know and they do not care. They are not going to care. Take the hope that they may someday care and throw it right out the damn window because it is not happening. There is no bridge too far.
This is because Trump's supporters view his lies in an entirely different light than we do. They know he lies, and it's not just that they don't care, it's that they see his lies as either compliments designed to make them feel good about themselves or as Trump doing some incredible 4D chess move to manipulate the media -- which they like, because they see the media as not just out to get Trump, but also, by extension, out to get them.
Over on the AskTrumpSupporters subreddit, one of the most common responses to someone asking how they Trump supporters feel about whatever Trump recently lied about is "he just wants to energize his base!" They often see the lies he tells as something more akin to a coach revving up his team before a game -- by saying how bad the other team is and how great they are. It doesn't matter if those things are true, because that is beside the point.
When I was growing up in Rochester, we used to have this injury lawyer named Jim "The Hammer" Shapiro. And Jim "The Hammer" Shapiro would do these completely batshit commercials where he would just scream about severed heads while standing next to a screen showing a bunch of explosions or Satan's head or whatever.
Jim "The Hammer" Shapiro video # 4 www.youtube.com
His tagline in many of these commercials was "I may be an S.O.B., but I'm your S.O.B.," and if you want to know how Trump's supporters think of his lies and all the terrible things he does, that phrase just about sums it up. The way they see it, all politicians lie to them, the media lies to them, but Trump lies for them. And for those who dig the whole strongman thing, the very act of Trump telling a lie and "getting away with it" by suffering no consequences is a power move. It only makes them love him more. Coming up with explanations for why his lies are either actually true or do not matter is a game they actually enjoy playing.
I am not suggesting that we stop pointing out when he lies, but we are not going to win whatever the hell this war is with Snopes, with facts, or even with headlines with the word "lie" in them, and we should not expect to. The truth will not set us free. We're not just fighting dishonesty, we're fighting solipsism, cruelty and weaponized low self-esteem, and we are going to have to tailor our approach accordingly.
The same may or may not go for Bill Barr, we have no idea. But Trump? Yes. They love that.
Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Previously, she was a Senior Staff Writer at Death & Taxes, and Assistant Editor at The Frisky (RIP). Currently, she writes for Wonkette, Friendly Atheist, Quartz and other sites. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse