It’s hard to decide what is the most disturbing part of Donald Trump’s candidacy. His racism, sexism and nativism? His crudity, boastfulness and boorishness? His incessant flip-flopping? His threats against critics and incitement of violence against demonstrators?
All of that is horrifying, but arguably scariest of all is his aggressive contempt for the truth. All politicians spin and twist facts to some extent, but Trump’s lies are so epic and recurring as to put him in a whole other universe of dissembling — a place where facts are meaningless and the truth can be anything he wants it to be at that particular moment.
Oh yeah, the conspiracy theory part:
In February, for example, Trump told a story about how a young U.S. Gen. John Pershing supposedly dealt with captured Muslim terrorists in the Philippines: “He took 50 men and he dipped 50 bullets in pigs’ blood . . . And he had his men load his rifles, and he lined up the 50 people, and they shot 49 of those people. And the 50th person, he said: You go back to your people, and you tell them what happened. And for 25 years, there wasn’t a problem.”
Numerous commentators pointed out this was an urban legend with no basis in history. Yet Trump went right on repeating it.
This same willful ignorance was on display last fall when Trump claimed that on 9/11 he had witnessed “thousands and thousands” of people in Jersey City cheering the destruction of the World Trade Center. Reporters and local officials came forward to show that this never happened. But instead of admitting that he was wrong, Trump — who says he has “the world’s greatest memory,” despite in February supposedly knowing “nothing about” David Duke — doubled down on his erroneous assertion.
On the very day when he clinched the Republican nomination, he suggested on a TV show that Ted Cruz’ father was involved in the Kennedy assassination — invoking the authority of the National Enquirer.
This is only the latest crazy theory that Trump has promoted. He has recited discredited claims that vaccines cause autism. His immediate reaction after hearing of Justice Antonin Scalia’s death of natural causes was to conjure up foul play: “They say they found a pillow on his face, which is a pretty unusual place to find a pillow.”
Most notoriously, Trump was a leading “birther,” claiming that Barack Obama was born in Kenya and thus ineligible for the presidency. The release of Obama’s long-form health certificate in 2011 did not dissuade him.
So, when I opened my morning PS and saw a piece by Max Boot, I naturally assumed it was the same as I'd read the day before. Not to be. It was fresh meat.
Trump is an ignorant demagogue who traffics in racist and misogynistic slurs and crazy conspiracy theories. He champions protectionism and isolationism — the policies that brought us the Great Depression and World War II. He wants to undertake a police-state roundup of undocumented immigrants and to bar Muslims from coming to this country. He encourages his followers to assault protesters and threatens to sue or smear critics. He would abandon Japan and South Korea and break up the most successful alliance in history — NATO. But he has kind words for tyrants such as Vladimir Putin.
There has never been a major party nominee in U.S. history as unqualified for the presidency. The risk of Trump winning, however remote, represents the biggest national security threat that the United States faces today.
Rightwing Trolls Assemble!
Because it will certainly be necessary to take down Boot for his heresy.
Yes, I'm forced to finally adopt a Trump label after long resistance. I'd hoped he would just go away. Such was not to be.