The anatomy of a Trump lie

“I didn’t say that,” quoth Donald Trump, when asked by reporters if he’d make good on his promise to give a million dollars to a charity of Elizabeth Warren’s choosing, now that she has taken a DNA test revealing she has native American ancestry: “you’d better read it again.”

So we read the transcript again. Then to make sure, we watched the video. Here’s what Trump said during a campaign rally on July 5th, 2018. “I will give you [Elizabeth Warren] a million dollars, to your favorite charity, paid for by Trump, if you take the test and it shows you’re an Indian … I have a feeling she will say ‘no.’” She said yes. The DNA test revealed she had Native American ancestry.

This is a Trump lie. There’s nothing particularly unusual about it, he does it all the time. For example, he said he’d release his tax returns after being elected president. He did no such thing. He said great progress was being made on his border wall between Mexico and the United States. The wall hasn’t even been funded and no work on it is being done. He said he had reunited asylum-seeking parents with their children after the disastrous “zero tolerance” program wrenched them apart. Thanks to the breathtakingly stupid Trump bureaucracy, many of those children are still separated from their parents. Meanwhile more cages are reportedly being built for more children.

What Donald Trump has learned from all this, and much of the mainstream press has not, is he can tell these lies and get away with them. In time they are forgotten, only to be replaced with new lies, which in their turn are also forgotten. Winston Churchill once wrote that, “In war-time, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies.” Donald Trump’s lies are so commonplace that they survive seemingly without truth, or even the need of a bodyguard.

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