Maya Angelou has this wonderful line in her memoir I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. She says that “in order to be profoundly dishonest, a person must have one of two qualities.”
- Either he is unscrupulously ambitious, or
- He is unswervingly egocentric.
Behind door number 1 there are those who believe that for their ambitious “ends to be served, all things and people can justifiably be shifted about.”
Behind door number 2 you have someone that believes “he is the center, not only of his world, but of the world which others inhabit.”
CNN Reporter Daniel Dale found 21 lies the president made during his convention speech this week. You can find them all here, but here are the five most significant to me.
- Lie One–“Trump claimed, as always, that he is the one who passed the veterans’ choice law. Barack Obama signed that into law in 2014. Trump signed a 2018 law to modify it.”
- Lie Two–“Trump again touted a ‘record 9 million job gain over the past three months.’ He didn’t mention, as usual, that that gain follows a record 22 million job loss over the previous two months.”
- Lie Three–“He said they opened a Jerusalem embassy for less than $500,000. Early documents show it was at least $21 million.”
- Lie Four–“He said he will always, and Republicans will always, strongly protect people with preexisting conditions. That pledge has already been broken. He and they have repeatedly tried to weaken those protections in Obamacare.”
- Lie Five–“He boasted about the Covid testing system and about his general response. Look, experts nearly universally say the US was fatally slow in its response, especially slow in setting up adequate testing.”
The current president is, of course, incredibly ambitious and world-shakingly egocentric.
It sounds cliche to say that the president is a liar, but that doesn’t make it any less true or important. The real question is what to do about it from now until November.
This problem of dishonesty ties in closely with the desperate need for attention in politics. This week, many Americans made it a point to not watch the Republican National Convention, because what’s the point?
In addition, there’s been debate among Democratic politicians as to whether the Biden/Harris campaign should even debate Trump. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi says no, that a debate would only legitimize someone who doesn’t take the idea of being president seriously.
I don’t think there’s an easy answer here. You have to balance the problem of propping up flatly false ideas with the need to keep up debate and mobilization in the public.
But it is a serious question. In politics, to give someone attention is to give them legitimacy. So how much should we be arguing with profoundly dishonest men who salivate at the thought of grabbing more power, regardless of what they have to do or say?
It’s a question we should have been grappling with since June 2015, when that poor wealthy man came down the escalator to announce his candidacy.
Thank you for reading.