Fact checkers say they have been having a field day with Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. They tend to say both lie or dissemble or speak half- or untruths.
As citizens, we can become hard-pressed to consume these lies, and the facts to which they are often joined, apply our ratiocination to them, and determine which facts – and lies – are acceptable.
The organs of alleged unbiased news reporting proffer their own conclusions. For example, the Washington Post has declared that Trump has spoken many more falsities than Hillary, though both to one extent or another remain distrusted.
I’m not in a position to dispute the Post. There is too much to learn and to weigh. As reasoning men and women, however, we do not merely want to consider the characteristic of number but also the characteristic of magnitude.
Please understand I do not condone dishonesty, nor would I suggest that one liar be held to a lower standard than another liar, or one liar to a higher standard than another. Yet as citizens who observe the unfortunate reality of ambitious campaigns and the fantastical rhetoric by which candidates seek to create an illusion about themselves and about their opponents, We are often faced with the task of sorting out, not merely fact from fiction, but the values of those facts and, most painfully, the values of those fictions.
So we come to Trump and Hillary. I prefer that neither of them lie. It’s a task enough to evaluate and render a verdict on their individual policies and their collective effect as a group without sifting through their, well, deplorables.
In fact – ahem! – we can use policies as an example. A person may be inclined to agree with more of Hillary’s policies, for example, but if that person sees a greater magnitude of importance in keeping out illegal immigrants and potentially violent refugees, as well as creating new, higher paying jobs, then the magnitude of the policies Trump advocates will propel her to pull the lever for Trump.
Analogously, we want to weigh the magnitude of the fictions, the lies, each candidate has spouted. Which lies tend more toward being intolerable? Which lies, while drawing our ire, can we live with?
It is here that Trump wins the debate on honesty, such as it is, and thus “earns” our trust.
Trump’s lies range from simple, bloated exaggerations to equivocations to fibs of embarrassment to sheer fictions: the border wall is going to be “beautiful” (really?); he knows more than the generals and intelligence officers; he always opposed the Iraq war; the president was born on foreign soil.
In fairness to him, most of those statements are not completely false, if one considers a figurative or equivocal sense or even a generalized one. For those of us anxious to see citizenship in our country full of meaning and value and to see our immigration laws respected and enforced, the wall and its accouterments will be beautiful. Trump does NOT know the intelligence business like the generals and intelligence officers do, but he may well know better how to figure out and use any accurate and full intel they can give him. Trump’s opposition to the Iraq War was set in stone and has remained consistent since before the War began and after an initial interview when he tepidly okayed, clearly before he had given it serious thought, intervention in Iraq. Although Mr. Obama’s birther issue was worth pursuing, when Trump pursued it beyond the presentation of the birth certificate, it became a lie.
(A quick digression here: Mr. Obama aided and abetted the movement when he chose to withhold his birth certificate from examination. The president has manifested also what I would call a “third world” attitude and intellection that falls far short of America and Americans first and that subverts the national interest. His Kenyan father influenced the president in that direction. Forbes presented an in-depth article on this several years ago.)
While a desire for a pristine image generates lying for the sake of image, not all image lying enjoys the same magnitude. Franklin Delano Roosevelt prevented news reporters from taking photos of him in his wheelchair. He did not want to be seen as a cripple and attach that lack of capacity to his function as commander-in-chief. So every photo of him without his wheelchair is a lie, but a tolerable one.
Trump lies to project an image of strength and success. While the particulars are sometimes lies – he knows more than the generals and intelligence officers – he owns a proven track record of negotiation, leadership, and success. Such lies are silly and sometimes stupid and counterproductive. Within the context of that overall success, however, they are more tolerable that the prevarications of Hillary.
That’s because of the magnitude of Hillary’s lies.
Hillary lied to enhance her image, but she used those lies to cover criminal behavior. She used those lies to cover her exposure of national security information to our enemies for the sake of her short-term (convenience) and long-term (ability to erase mistakes and cover her tracks) objectives. She lied to cover her failure to properly assess the intelligence and events in Benghazi that led to the deaths of an American ambassador and three Americans trying to protect him. She lied when she said an American film mocking Islam caused the deadly Benghazi consulate attack. She repeated that lie to the survivors of the murdered Benghazi Americans, THEN LIED WHEN SHE SAID SHE NEVER TOLD THEM THAT! She lied when she told a senate committee investigating the Benghazi terrorism that she did not want to interrupt the process of the assessment of what was going down in Benghazi when as secretary of state she was, in fact, the most key person in that process outside of the president. She lied when she claimed that she came under fire during a landing in Bosnia in 2008.
Except for the Bosnia lie, all the above-listed image lies possess a greater magnitude and consequence for our country and its citizens than anything Trump has said. They all speak with force about the defective nature of Hillary’s character. Her growth and accomplishment as a liar enables her to produce a facade of friendliness and professionalism, of caring and idealism, of togetherness and fighter. Hillary is not the usual, classical populist; she is a populist for the socially engineered ideologues and those who aren’t but who out of fear or a sense of shame or guilt follow its moralizing bullet train. She is a populist for the divided: she has carved up the country into tidy factions to which she can appeal: women, latinos, blacks, gays, etc. Divide and conquer.
Hillary is the Great Divider. Whoever or whatever you are, she’ll carve you up into a group, victimize you, then sell her goods to you in exchange for your vote. She’s like an attorney who buys you drinks at the bar, hands you your keys, watches you drive off and collide with someone, then comes over and gives you her card.
The problem is that carving up everyone into a group and convincing them she is fighting for them inevitably produces contradictions. So Hillary supports gay rights, except that she wants to import more Islamic refugees who want to kill gays. Hillary “fights” for children, except the ones she aborts, and especially the ones she aborts who are halfway out of the womb, still kicking, until the doctor inserts a cold, metal clamper into the womb and crushes their skulls. Hillary fights for women until her husband molests or harasses those women – that’s when she FIGHTS women and sets up a “War Room” to find and destroy the reputations and testimony of the women he victimized. Hillary stands with our forces until she refuses to take telephone calls or find out what’s going on in Benghazi and people die. Hillary stands for free trade agreements and partnerships that cost Americans jobs and create unconstitutional, extra-legal international bodies to render verdicts that involve powerful special interests until it might cost her votes in a presidential campaign. And one of the most laughable lies/contradictions is her rants against Trump’s stand on nuclear nonproliferation when she helped put together and sanctioned the Iran deal, which guarantees that Iran will obtain nuclear weapons!!!
There you have it, though I’m sure many more prevarications exist in Hillary’s record, Hilliar’s record.
Evaluating and rendering judgment isn’t only about quantity, but quality. They aren’t only about numbers but magnitude. The magnitude of Hillary’s individual lies, and of the whole collection of them, is off the charts!
You must decide. The challenge before you is the simplicity of Trump’s character. He’s a blunt New Yorker who wears his heart on his sleeve. That’s why he can get away with paying no tax. He thinks he was smart to use the tax laws the way they are. I don’t like that he didn’t pay any tax, if that is the case, but it’s hard for me to disagree that it takes a pretty smart guy to do that legally.
Clinton’s deception is built on a rock solid foundation and long accomplished history of sophistry. She has practiced lying and dissembling for so long, she feels – she knows – she can get away with it. She owns the ability to convince well-meaning people that she is what she isn’t and that she isn’t what she is. Of course, there must be a willingness to believe, but nobody preys on that like Hillary.
Will you be divided and conquered, or will you slip past Hillary’s sophistry, to see her as she is, and to govern yourself accordingly.
It’s all in the magnitude of Hillary’s lies.