May 11th, 2017

On Trump’s perceived honesty

This morning commenter “Yankee” wrote: “Mr. Trump is both smarter and more honest than his critics think he is.”

And commenter “Bill” responded:

More honest?

He’s one of the most transparently dishonest politicians I’ve ever been exposed to.

It doesn’t matter the issue. For example, the story of why he fired Comey and why now continues to morph – first they pinned it on the assistant AG, who (rightly) pushed back.

You may love Trump because he’s a “fighter”, or he “gets things done” or (as someone upthread said) – he “has no guilt” (sociopath).

But don’t pretend like he’s honest.

But it occurs to me that both things can be essentially true. That is, Trump can be more honest than his critics think he is (or than they say he is), and yet still be one of the most transparently dishonest politicians we’ve ever seen.

That sounds like a joke, but it’s not a joke. That’s how dishonest Trump’s critics think he is—the sort of dishonesty Mary McCarthy was talking about when she said of Lillian Hellman: “every word she writes is a lie, including ‘and’ and ‘the.’”

During the Trump campaign, I pointed out many of Trump’s lies. There’s very little question that he lies often, and he lies strategically. But also, as Bill says, he lies transparently—meaning that it’s relatively easy to see through at least some of his lies (perhaps all of his lies?).

Contrast that to the previous president, Barack Obama. His admirers would probably deny it, but he also was a habitual liar. This is true to a certain extent of most presidents, but I noticed that Obama was a bolder and more habitual liar, but in particular a more clever, smoother, and less transparent liar.

If you going to compare the lying of two presidents, it seems to me that the transparent liar is less dangerous than the subtle liar, because the public would find it easier to detect the lies of the former than the latter. What’s more, in the case of Obama, we had a president whose lies were covered up and defended by the press, and in Trump we have the opposite—a president towards whom the press stands in a similar relationship as McCarthy did towards Hellman: his hyperbolic accuser.

[NOTE: McCarthy was essentially correct about Hellman, by the way—she was a habitual liar, although of course not every word.

And there’s little question that Trump lied—or, at the very least, misled—the public about whether he was the main impetus for the Comey firing. He was:

People are tired of being lied to. I know I am. And we actually like getting a dash of unvarnished, unscripted, un-focus-grouped truth every now and again.

Trump is a shitty, obvious, unconvincing liar and he needs to know that about himself.

That’s Ace writing, by the way. Not known for Trump-hate.]

32 Responses to “On Trump’s perceived honesty”

  1. vanderleun Says:

    Actually, I think there was a time when Ace was dumping pro-Trumpers from his site.

  2. vanderleun Says:

    AND below the comment in question above:

    vanderleun Says:
    May 11th, 2017 at 10:41 am
    It’s very important for Trump to hide his truth behind a bodyguard of lies.

  3. Wooly Bully Says:

    vanderleun Says:
    May 11th, 2017 at 10:41 am
    It’s very important for Trump to hide his truth behind a bodyguard of lies.

    Unlike Clinton, who hid her lies behind a bodyguard of lies.

  4. Bilwick Says:

    You can probably say a lot of bad things about Trump, and be correct in saying them; but when “liberals” complain about him–or anyone else for that matter–being dishonest, the needle on my Irony Meter crashes.

  5. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    Both Trump and Obama are inveterate liars. Wherein the difference lies I suspect is that Obama’s lies have a goal and purpose, to advance his ideological agenda.

    While Trump’s lies have an underlying subtext; ‘well yeah but that was then and this is now’. Trump’s ‘truth’ is however he perceives things to be in that moment. He’s not lying maliciously, he’s just ‘flexible’ from moment to moment.

    He feels no obligation to be consistent in the present with his prior positions. Nor is he alone in this, a lot of people operate similarly. In fact, arguably nearly every liberal shares that attitude. Remember the “liberal reset button”?

  6. Griffin Says:

    The thing about this that is starting to annoy is the whole gotcha hypocrisy game. Yes, it can make you look bad but sometimes things change. For example, for a number of reasons Trump felt it necessary to keep Comey on at the beginning and once he did that he had to offer some kind of support or else it would be pointless. Then with time he decided to cut him loose. Things change. Is that hypocritical? This rigid once you say something it must be forever type thinking is very off putting to me. Who does this in their own lives?

  7. artemptydgr Says:

    He used they
    And made assumptions as he knows the truth so he must know the lie and he assumes no one dues anything without the press such is very untrue

    Maybe they had a singular form?

  8. DNW Says:

    It seems to me that Trump’s lying is in many cases simply an example of his self-promoting grandiosity.

    “It was the biggest …” No it was not!

    “The best …” You can’t say that!

    “There has never been …” Yes there has!

    “That’s not what I meant …” Yes you did!

    “We were wire tapped” No you were not; there were no alligator clips attached to wires!!!

    So, there’s that kind of ‘lie’.

    And then there is this kind: “If you like your plan … (doctor, etc.) you can keep it.”

    So, I’ll start really worrying when illegal immigration begins increasing because of something Trump has deliberately done to facilitate it; or when he appoints a Marxist to the SC and claims the persona is conservative.

    So far, that has not happened.

    He has not even built the wall, and yet border jumping is reportedly plummeting just because he threatens to enforce the laws on the books.

    Gee, maybe that makes him a liar too..

  9. Irene Says:

    @ vanderleun
    “Actually, I think there was a time when Ace was dumping pro-Trumpers from his site.”

    Oh my goodness, yes he did. And with venom! (I like Ace very much.)

  10. neo-neocon Says:

    vanderleun:

    Not correct.

    There was a time when Ace was dumping abusive, angry pro-Trumpers who were insulting everything and everybody from his site. He never dumped pro-Trumpers for being pro-Trump.

    And that was a long time ago, anyway. He’s been quite Trump-friendly since quite a while before the election.

  11. Irene Says:

    @Griffin
    “This rigid once you say something it must be forever type thinking is very off putting to me. Who does this in their own lives?”

    I was thinking exactly this while watching the Press Briefing today! What planet do these people live on where circumstances never change or where you have to pinpoint exactly when and how your mind started to change on a particular matter.

    I think living a life never responsible for a payroll, or anything else that business people face daily, has insulated these Journolists from how the world really works outside of their little kindergarten.

  12. DNW Says:

    neo-neocon Says:
    May 11th, 2017 at 4:11 pm

    vanderleun:

    Not correct.

    There was a time when Ace was dumping abusive, angry pro-Trumpers who were insulting everything and everybody from his site. He never dumped pro-Trumpers for being pro-Trump.

    And that was a long time ago, anyway. He’s been quite Trump-friendly since quite a while before the election.”

    Now, there’s a perfect example of what could become in an already heatedly and malevolently antagonistic context, an opportunity for people to begin calling each other liars.

    I do not say that all of Trump’s ‘lies’ are instances of hyperbolic bloviation, braggadocio, self-serving image aggrandizement, or simple imprecision, but some of what I have seen certainly looks to be.

  13. DNW Says:

    “I think living a life never responsible for a payroll, or anything else that business people face daily, has insulated these Journolists from how the world really works outside of their little kindergarten.”

    That, and a corrupt moral sense, is why when they discuss ObamaCare and its outcomes, they casually shrug at the financial rape of 7 million independent American citizens for the benefit of 10 million dependent … residents …

  14. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    Griffin & Irene,

    Remember Alinsky. They only insist that those on the right be rigidly consistent. No such standard applies to those on the left. ‘Heads we win, tails you lose’ is the game they play.

  15. Yankee Says:

    Well, I did not expect that off-hand comment to get so much attention. But at any rate, I proudly stand by my earlier assertion that Mr. Trump is both smarter and more honest than his critics think he is.

    Please note the use of the comparative adjective, and think also of real examples of intentional deception from other prominent persons.

    The memo from the Deputy AG was out the same day that Mr. Comey was fired, and it makes for interesting reading. Such a memo is standard procedure whenever someone does get terminated.

    Hopefully, Mr. Comey kept that termination letter from President Trump. Maybe he could sell it on e-Bay for a lot of money. In the meantime, let us wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors.

  16. Ymar Sakar Says:

    Trum is flexible like Lucifer is flexible.

  17. Ymar Sakar Says:

    The problem with the political allies of Trum is that they see a use for the salvation of the US, through Trum. However, when the conflict is between evil and good spirits, angels, and gods, what a king does to his nation will have lasting consequences. Consequences which cannot be mitigated by successful economic, military, or political actions.

    Trum can’t fire Lucifer nor can he order the angels to do his bidding, thus he is cut off from the Divine Counsel and is merely the pawn of two greater factions at work.

  18. Kyndyll G Says:

    “What planet do these people live on where circumstances never change …”

    They inhabit some kind of weird, idealized fantasy world in which they expect things to have been perfect (to their eyes) from the moment of inception, and forever unchanging from that Moment of Initial Perfection.

    One of the sticks they use to beat the United States, Western civilization, etc., is that these entities were not perfect and without flaw from the first day. It’s not good enough, for example, that slavery was abolished 150 years ago, or that women have had the vote for almost a hundred years; the fact that there was at one time a United States in which slavery was legal and women couldn’t vote is an original sin for which we must be forever penalized. (Lefties are absolved from penalty by their sensitivity and recognition of the one-time existence of such flaws.)

    The flip side of that mindset is that from a Moment of Perfection there can be no change. There is no new information, or evolution of social thought, or cultural values change, or anything else that can allow a change of mind. For example, they don’t consider it ironically anti-science when they say “the science is settled” on climate change (for which the science is in its infancy and stifled from practical research and progress). They don’t change their minds, because that would imply that they were wrong – and that isn’t – and can’t be – possible.

  19. Ymar Sakar Says:

    ‘Heads we win, tails you lose’ is the game they play.

    It’s likely Lucifer taught them strategy superior or equal to Sun Tzu’s art of war. Otherwise, people are expected to believe Leftist zombies have the capability and virtue to come up an equal application, equal to Sun Tzu’s own application of skills in war.

    Not giving an enemy a way out and converting them to your cause without a fight, is what a strategist should aim for.

  20. Ymar Sakar Says:

    If I recall, Neo Neo here had to dump a bunch of Breitbart operators and Alt Right allies of Trum.

    The allies of Trum are not Trum himself, otherwise he would have expected a win with far less cost.

  21. Kyndyll G Says:

    Just to continue and clarify my point, for a far-leftist to change their mind on something implies that 1) they didn’t know everything there is to know about the subject to begin with and 2) knowing everything there is to know about everything, they had initially formed a wrong idea about it.

    I cannot name one of my many far lefty-left friends who would acknowledge changing their mind on a subject that matters, for these reasons.

    At the same time, they actually will change their mind on something the way a fish in a school of fish changes direction, and pretty much for the same reason. They change direction to swim with the crowd and do so with complete amnesia of the “We have always been at war with Eastasia” variety.

    Actively changing an idea in response to incoming information is an unforgiveable character flaw to a lefty – suggesting that they were either wrong to begin with, or worse, that having achieved Perfect Truth, they are wavering from it.

  22. Griffin Says:

    Another thing about this that would be funny if it weren’t so dangerous is how so many Democrats talk about this whole Russia ‘investigation.’ Invariably when being interviewed they start out making statements about how the President is ‘under investigation’ (not really true), then when even some mainstream media stooge pushes back a little they start softening that he ‘may’ have been involved and then they just break down into incoherent non sequiturs. It happens daily as they are just trying to prop this story up despite there never having been any evidence of collusion.

  23. Jim Miller Says:

    Back in March, trying to think about this problem systematically, I came to this tentative conclusion:

    “In my opinion, Barack Obama is at least one order of magnitude more likely to say something false than George W. Bush. In my opinion, Donald Trump is at least two orders of magnitude more likely to say something false than George W. Bush.”

    I wrote “say something false” rather than “lie” because that allows me to avoid problems of knowledge and intent. I suspect that Trump often does not know whether what he says is true or false — and almost always doesn’t care.

    I use “orders of magnitude” because that allows me to make comparisons without pretending to be precise.

  24. TommyJay Says:

    An interesting post by Neo, though I’m not impressed with the bits of Ace that she excerpted.

    As far as the generalized issue of truth and lies goes, I’d comment that we as consumers of media are awash with people “posturing to advantage” in their respective forums. My take is that Trump is one who shouts “Bull Sh_t, the Lords of the Left have no clothes. I’ll call your posturing, and raise you two postures.”

    But this started as a discussion on the Comey firing. A specific thing. As I understand it:

    Trump didn’t like Comey many weeks ago. He had a meeting with Rosenstein and they both agreed Comey had made many egregious mistakes. Trump asked Rosenstein to write up an evaluation of Comey along those lines. He did. Trump fired Comey.

    Then Sarah Sanders misspoke and stated that Rosenstein recommended Comey’s firing (which he didn’t). Rosenstein started catching flak and bitched about the misunderstanding. Finally, Trump decides to be a stand-up guy and pull that flak off Rosenstein and on to himself and says, “It was my decision to fire Comey, I always intended to fire him.”

    I fail to see the problem with any of it, except for Sander’s small but significant mistake, and Trump’s claim that I intended to fire him all along. Government American style IS about process. Why go through the correct procedures, and then say it was a fait accompli anyway? The answer, I guess, was for the President to take responsibility.

    Does anyone remember that; taking responsibility, in public? And I don’t mean mouthing the words, “I take full responsibility for those top-secret emails that I claim I never sent through unsecured networks and servers.” [not sic] And then use every trick and power play to avoid any consequences.

    Look at Hillary’s return to the media recently. A litany of excuses and buck-passing on why she lost the election. And check out David Axelrod’s retorts to her litany. Amen brother!

  25. AesopFan Says:

    Yankee Says:
    May 11th, 2017 at 4:40 pm

    Hopefully, Mr. Comey kept that termination letter from President Trump. Maybe he could sell it on e-Bay for a lot of money. In the meantime, let us wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors.
    ***
    Someone already has..
    http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2017/05/a-final-word-about-james-comey.php

  26. AesopFan Says:

    Kyndyll G Says:
    May 11th, 2017 at 4:58 pm
    “What planet do these people live on where circumstances never change …”

    They inhabit some kind of weird, idealized fantasy world in which they expect things to have been perfect (to their eyes) from the moment of inception, and forever unchanging from that Moment of Initial Perfection.

    Kyndyll G Says:
    May 11th, 2017 at 5:20 pm

    Actively changing an idea in response to incoming information is an unforgiveable character flaw to a lefty – suggesting that they were either wrong to begin with, or worse, that having achieved Perfect Truth, they are wavering from it.
    ***
    I once saw an article arguing that the Left has never forgiven God for thrusting Adam and Eve out of Eden, and wants to pretend they are still there (without admitting that Adam, Eve, God, or Eden actually exist/ed, of course).
    **

    Kyndyll G Says:
    May 11th, 2017 at 5:20 pm

    At the same time, they actually will change their mind on something the way a fish in a school of fish changes direction, and pretty much for the same reason. They change direction to swim with the crowd and do so with complete amnesia of the “We have always been at war with Eastasia” variety.
    ***
    Steve Colbert’s audience being the perfect case in point, along with this video montage:

    http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2017/05/democratic-situational-ethics-on-comey.php

  27. Ymar Sakar Says:

    Much of the point of building the Tower of Babel was to use the logic of idols to pull a god, perhaps the god, down from the throne of heaven and unto a human realm and transfigured idol.

    Humans have a long history of not only wanting to worship some power in return for knowledge, sex, and tech, but they also want to do it in a fashion that is generated by their own hands. Idols were not the gods themselves, that was what the first commandment was for. Idols were merely vessels created by humans that the gods indwelled.

    By creating idol worship amongst humans, the Divine Counsel eventually got them to the point where they thought they could create a human built utopia on Earth. That way, they didn’t need a personal relationship with the king of gods. The SUmerians, Egyptians, Babylonians, Norse, and Greeks all had ancients gods and goddesses. To transliterate that into the testament of Jehovah, those would be the angels that rebelled along with Lucifer. As well as the ones who fell along with the Watchers in Book of Enoch 1-3.

  28. Ymar Sakar Says:

    Judeo Christianity turned out to be a combination of monotheism and polytheism, which many church fathers and authorities didn’t want to recognize for political reasons.

    Even the word monotheism came from the 7th century, due to the political authority given to Christianity as a state religion to persecute and execute heretics.

    It is strange that a so called universal religion would abdicate the existence and concept of the gods and the divine counsel. It would have given Christianity free reign over the pagans, and is probably the sole reason why the druids, Celts, and Norse converted to Christianity without ever losing a holy war to the Christian nations.

    Allahu Akbar is in itself, the Islamic version of saying their god is the greatest of them all. Greatest out of whom exactly.

  29. Eric Says:

    Jim Miller:
    “In my opinion, Barack Obama is at least one order of magnitude more likely to say something false than George W. Bush. In my opinion, Donald Trump is at least two orders of magnitude more likely to say something false than George W. Bush.”

    FYI, see the answer to “Did Bush lie his way to war with Iraq” as well as clarification of the UNSCR 687 nuclear disarmament issue in the OIF decision.

    As you point out on your blog, Bush didn’t lie at all with the controversial statement in the 2003 SOTU statement; “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa” is literally true. In fact, the British 2004 Butler review of the UK intelligence on Iraq, stood by the pre-war assessment.

    The IAEA findings were less alarming than the UNMOVIC findings on the UNSCR 687 chemical, biological, and missile disarmament issues that confirmed Iraq’s “continued violations of its obligations” (UNSCR 1441) to establish casus belli at the decision point for OIF. But it should be noted that the Iraq Survey Group corroborated Iraq was not compliant with the UNSCR 687 nuclear disarmament mandates and Saddam was in fact reconstituting Iraq’s nuclear program with armament intent.

  30. Eric Says:

    Add: To clarify, the post-war assessment is Iraq does not appear likely to have actually “recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa”, but Bush’s 2003 SOTU statement that British intelligence “learned” it did is literally true.

    Given Saddam’s over-all reconstitution of Iraq’s nuclear program at the time that’s confirmed by the Iraq Survey Group, the British assessment on the particular uranium issue was drawn on sound bases. Again, the intel estimates didn’t – and by procedure couldn’t – establish casus belli. The verification by the UN inspectors of Iraq’s noncompliance, ie, “material breach” (UNSCR 1441) of the Gulf war ceasefire established casus belli.

  31. Big Maq Says:

    Welcome back Jim and Eric – or, maybe I missed recent posts by you.

  32. AesopFan Says:

    Ymar Sakar Says:
    May 12th, 2017 at 9:30 am
    Judeo Christianity turned out to be a combination of monotheism and polytheism, which many church fathers and authorities didn’t want to recognize for political reasons.

    Even the word monotheism came from the 7th century, due to the political authority given to Christianity as a state religion to persecute and execute heretics.
    * * *
    Have you read any of Margaret Barker’s work on the early Jewish traditions (mostly excised from the Deuteronomic revisions).

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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