Previously I've made the point about Donald Trump as a persistent purveyor of outright lies - not just the number or kind that happens periodically in political discussion, but of a volume and expansive falseness that runs far beyond the norm, to the point of ...
Gaslighting the American people?
There's a separate point to be made here about the larger picture, the bigger sense of what is happening when the canvas of lies becomes an epic picture of disinformation.
Here's the difference, in two successive fact items in a James Fallows post about a Trump speech from July:
"Trump makes his claim that America has grown so dysfunctional that people were asking for “a moment of silence” for the man who murdered five police officers in Dallas. Maybe I’ve missed it, but I am not aware of any real-world evidence for that claim. Translation: I believe he is yet again making this up."
This was a clear falsehood, but compare with Fallows' next item:
"Right after that, Trump goes into his 'we never win any more' riff, about how the United States is an all-fronts failure. Lord knows that the United States has more than its share of grave economic, social, racial, public-safety, civic-culture, educational, infrastructure, and other problems ... But if you’re talking in crude “we win” / “we lose” terms, you have to ask: OK, which major nation is 'winning' more often, in more ways, than the U.S. now?"
But he repeats this stuff - the broad-brush "we never win any more" stuff - so regularly that much of his audience seems to internalize, accept it as received truth, and not bother to question it, when a sober-minded review of the world around us tells us otherwise. As in: We're sure not without problems, but lose all the time? The most powerful, richest, most influential country on the globe? Really?
Ask yourself how many of his larger conclusions, not to even mention his "facts", stand up to serious, sensible reflection? The answer is, not very many. Try it the next time you see him speak. - rs