|A Used-Car Salesman at the Helm|
|Written by Jack King, BT Contributor|
Here’s why we fall for Trump’s lines
I’m still trying to get my arms around the situation that I refer as the Trump political phenomenon. Something seems to be happening, but not very much is getting done. I’ll guess I’ll just have to wait and see.
In the meantime, I’ll regale you with some stories that have happened both recently and in the more distant past that might help you understand what’s happening. Notice I said “might,” so don’t get your hopes up.
Back in my days going to college in Gainesville, we came up with diverse intellectual and silly-seemingly intellectual antics that kept us busy in the dead of winter. Oh yeah, you say, it doesn’t get that cold in north Florida. Yes it is does if you’re a surfer kid from South Florida.
Every winter day it was 50 degrees and raining. And as for indoor amusement, we had the worst college basketball team in the world. So bad that the student union would give you free beer tickets to the home games. The catch was that they gave you half the ticket when you went in and half when the game was over. No leaving early if you wanted your free beer.
Not having much to do, we discovered the Flat Earth Society, a somewhat crazy group that was based in England. It was part geographical, part intellectual, part debate, part spoof. And it kept our comedic senses rolling along until springtime.
After college we all went our separate ways, occasionally hooking up for football games and occasionally at Disney World when we all had kids. Discussion of the Flat Earth Society was minimal. Over the years, things change.
Not the mainstream media, though. They always fought like dogs to be first with news and the facts to show they had the story right. And for the most part they did. Even UF’s Independent Alligator.
Then one day the business world and the stock market noticed that media companies were making tons of money. The investors were reluctant to jump into the media business at first -- it was uncharted territory. But jump they did -- with billions of dollars, buying everything they could and firing the very employees who made newspapers profitable, and then breaking up the whole lot and selling the pieces.
Investors made billions and the American news media were nearly dead. One major consequence: the American people had almost no one to tell them who was lying.
On the national front today, there are enough legitimate news outlets to somewhat keep the federal government in check, but not nearly enough. Also we have this thing called the Constitution, and it seems to be working -- at least for now.
Donald Trump, for all intents and purposes, is a used-car salesman. And a damn good one at that. However, if he were selling used cars, he’d be in jail for violating state and local consumer laws. Unfortunately, we seem to have better consumer protection laws than we have laws to protect us from fools in government. I know the reason for that. We expect our political leaders to maintain higher moral standards than the clerk at the convenience store. I guess it’s not to be.
It seems we’re stuck with Trump for four years, unless he does something really smart. No doubt, he’s done quite a few stupid things so far. Thing is, he’s said them to people in the middle of country who apparently aren’t smart enough to understand life’s realities. They just want what they used to have, and will listen to someone who promises to get it back.
Add a little lying, which Trump does well, and you have something like this:
Reporter: You said today that you had the biggest electoral margin since Ronald Reagan -- 304, 306 electoral votes. In fact, President Obama got 365 in 2008.
Trump: Well, I’m talking about Republicans.
Reporter: President Obama, 336, George H.W. Bush, 426 when he won. So why should Americans trust...
Trump: No, I was given that information, I was just -- given it -- we had a very big margin.
Reporter: I guess the question is, why should Americans trust you when you accuse the information they receive as being fake, when you’re providing information that is not accurate?
Trump: Well, I was given that information. I was -- actually I’ve seen that information around. But it was a very substantial victory, do you agree with that?
Reporter: You’re the president.
Trump: Thank you. Good answer.
Almost as good as Trumpster Kellyanne Conway on Meet the Press, talking with Chuck Todd about inauguration crowd size.
Conway: You’re saying it’s a falsehood. And they’re giving -- Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts.
Todd: Wait a minute. Alternative facts? Alternative facts aren’t facts, they’re falsehoods.
Volume 15, Issue 1, March 2017
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