WC wonders why the truth no longer matters. But the reasons our new president scorns the truth are even more disturbing.
On the first full day of the new presidential administration, we had the spectacle of the newly-installed President of the United States standing in front of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Memorial Wall of Agency Heroes, uttering a patent lie. A silly lie, that was utterly irrelevant to governing: that the crowds at President Trumpster’s inauguration were larger than the crowd’s at President Obama’s. As if crowd size somehow matters, like television Nielsen ratings.
It’s shameful enough, if President Trumpster has a discernible sense of shame, that the President threw his temper tantrum standing in front of the stars representing C.I.A. personnel who lost their lives in the service of their country. It’s bad enough, if President Trumpster can tell good from bad, that he wrecked an effort to repair his relationship with U.S. intelligence agencies. Those would be the same intelligence agencies he call “incompetent” and “s bad as Nazis” just a few days ago. But the shameful, counter-productive lies were uttered to serve an affront to his vanity, to his ego. Our new President cannot accept the obvious truth that the crowds at his inauguration were smaller than the crowds at an earlier inauguration. He was so wounded he had to lie about it. He was so hurt he had to damage a hallowed place, damage his attempt to repair his relationship with a crucial part of the government, and trap himself in another stupid lie.1
But President Trumpster didn’t stop there. He ordered his press secretary, Sean Spicer, to accuse the news media of falsely reporting the size of the Insuguration Day crowd. Spicer, in his first appearance before the media ever, said, “We’re going to hold the press accountable.” Spicer lied about traffic counts on the Washington, D.C. Metro transit system.[^2] He left without answering questions. What a terrific start: threats, lies and pouting. Mr. Spicer will fit right in to the new Administration.
The truth should matter. The photographic evidence comparing the two crowds is unambiguous. The Metro traffic counters are perfectly clear. The truth is that President Obama’s 2009 inauguration drew bigger crowds than Trump’s.
But what is much more disturbing is that Trump’s latest lies and Spicer’s first press conference were in service solely to Trump’s injured vanity. The cost of those lies – Trump’s abuse of the Memorial Wall, further damage to his relationship with intelligence agencies, further damage to his relationship with the media – those costs were incurred because President Trumpster thinks his “ratings” are more important. Oddly, President Trumpster never mentioned his abysmal pre-Inauguration polling.
Think about that for a moment. If President Trumpster’s vanity trumps (sorry) everything else, exactly where is our country headed?
[^2]; On Sunday, on Meet the Press, Trump “advisor” KellyAnne Conway defended press secretary Sean Spicer’s “news” conference about the inauguration’s crowd size. Ms. Conway said Spicer had it right. She said he presented “alternative facts.” George Orwell would immediately recognize Conway’s statement as “doublespeak.”
- The President dragged out the “evil media” trope, “I have a running war with the media,” Trump declaimed. “They are among the most dishonest human beings on Earth, right?” Almost verbatim Dick Nixon. ↩