President John Quincy Adams is known to have said, “All men profess honesty as long as they can.” He was making the point that even people who are not truthful nevertheless try hard to make others believe otherwise. Were Adams alive today, he no doubt would have pointed to Trump as a perfect example of what he was trying to express. Trump often lies to protect himself or to promote a fake version of reality that he wishes existed. But he also just lies for the sake of lying, in the same way that we spend our time inhaling and exhaling without thinking much about it.
Appearing on MSNBC’s “Deadline: White House” on Friday, former RNC Chairman Michael Steele and host Nicolle Wallace identified a common situation in which you can be confident that Trump is lying. Steele noted that when Trump begins with “I heard” or “People say,” journalists must “shut it down, stop it, call it a lie and move on because the next sentence, word, phrase out of his mouth will be a lie.” Wallace agreed and brought up Trump’s recurring mention of some “friend Jimmy.” Pointing to his head, Steele explained that “Jimmy is in his head. Jimmy is running from this eyeball to that eyeball, okay, do you understand that? This is where Jimmy plays, he’s right here.”
When a liar-in-chief is running for reelection, you would expect his campaign to reflect the candidate’s obsession with dishonesty. Sure enough, The Associated Press reported this week that a series of Facebook video ads for Trump’s reelection campaign show foreign models deceptively standing in for Trump supporters. The campaign uses stock videos of attractive, radiant people smiling into the camera as a voiceover reads gushing testimonials apparently from these people. The ads include a small, brief disclaimer that reads “Actual testimonial, actor portrayal,” but it is easy to miss or disregard. In addition to the stock videos, some exterior shots of American small businesses are actually stock photos of storefronts in other countries. With all this trickery, are we also supposed to blindly take Trump’s word that the testimonials themselves are real and unedited?
As we head closer to the 2020 election, Trump and his campaign will no doubt “profess honesty as long as they can” while peddling overpriced snake oil to the American people. But a new Gallup poll released on Wednesday is a sign that he is losing customers. Americans’ support for Trump’s impeachment has now climbed to 45 percent, which is higher than President Clinton’s throughout the Monica Lewinsky scandal (19%-35%) and even President Nixon’s at the start of Watergate (19%-38%). Though “as long as they can” might not end as soon as we would like with Trump, it may be ending sooner than we think.