we know that donald trump lies. he lies better than a lot of us can tell the truth because, like all great liars, he doesn't care that he's lying. he's saying what needs to be said in order to get what he wants- votes, money, adoration, land... i have a theory [and it's just a theory] that this is partly why trump bristles when confronted with his lies, why he doubles and triples down on things that are demonstrably false: he doesn't get why we think he was wrong to say it. if it was something that was said in the service of reaching a goal, and the goal was reached, why should the details of the journey matter? so he petulantly insists that what he said was true, but what he really means is that what he said worked, which should be justification for having said it. like i said, it's just a theory.
but there is another way in which donald trump is completely honest. he may lie about the specifics, about the possibilities for the future, about history, about himself, about others... ok, you get the picture. but, seen from a distance, donald trump isn't dishonest at all. indeed, his opinions are a model of consistency and trump-truth. many of us tear out our hair wondering why the many, many lies he tells have no effect on his supporters, but that's a wrong-headed approach. trump supporters have seen lots of well-researched liars come and go, and probably wondered why they spent so much time talking about john kerry's flip-flops or bill clinton's blow job or any number of other things that had nothing to do with their difficult plight in life.
donald trump, on the other hand, isn't too bothered with the details. he offers people easy to understand solutions to their problems, and those are refreshing, because his followers are people who associate "complex" answers and political compromise with lying. those answers most often involve blaming "others", especially others who are easily identifiable: chinese people are stealing your money and the industries that once supported you, mexicans are stealing your jobs and driving your wages down, black people are stealing your places in universities, the media [those recognisable tv faces] are lying to you. [he does also take jabs at bankers, pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies, and congress, but he's never offered any policies to limit their power. they are a lesser type of evil.]
on some level, we all seek some specific person or group to blame for what befalls us. how many times have we snapped at someone else for supposedly doing something that caused us to bump an elbow, or make a wrong turn, or forget an important deadline? we've all given in to the lure of getting angry at someone when we feel pushed. i did it myself on this very blog in the recent past. donald trump and the republican party have reassured people that that is the right reaction. they've reassured supporters that this is the proper way to see the world.
moreover, he's reassured people that the darkest manifestations of those tendencies, directing them at groups who have only recently been able to start accessing the advantages that the dominant classes have taken for granted, are no source for shame. for decades, people have chafed at the idea that their prejudices are bad things and that they are, by extension, bad people. donald trump shows through his actions that sensitivity to things like race, gender, sexual orientation and gender identity aren't important. the shackles are finally off.
those of us who aren't fans are trying to fight him by picking what he says apart, but there's little point to that except to make ourselves feel better. [which is not to say that we shouldn't track it.] but the solution isn't in relentless rationality and statements of fact. i don't pretend that i know the solution, but i think it would be a lot better if we stopped questioning why he doesn't disown white supremacists, or apologise for bragging he can grab women by the pussy and just called out the fact that that's who he is. why offer him multiple chances to redeem himself, as if he somehow knows that what he said or did was wrong? he doesn't think he was wrong. we do. we may not like the fact that the president is hateful and suspicious towards traditionally disenfranchised groups, but it is what it is. goading him into these "apologies" that look more than anything like hostage videos serves no purpose, because no one believes them.
instead of expressing shock over his horrible first response to the terrorist attack in charlottesville, i think that the public and the media would have been better off being as frank as mr. trump himself: it was exactly what we expected, because those are trump's beliefs. it's fine to enumerate the reasons why what he said was risible, but let's not waste time pretending that his current position must have somehow changed him. from now on, i believe we'd all be better served by skipping the outrage over why he does and says these things, and moving directly to saying what's wrong with them, what a real leader would have done [or has done] in his position. point out the repulsiveness of his ideas, his unbelievable hypocrisy, yes. but let's not bother asking "is that what he really meant?" we've seen enough of him to know exactly what we're dealing with. to pretend that he might be anything else makes us either naive or stupid.