My partner in political-language crime just sent me a link to a 2015 NYT article about fact-checking politicians:
The title is “All Politicians Lie–Some Lie More Than Others.” (Obviously, the headline isn’t news, or shouldn’t be, to adults.) The author goes on to list the “scores” of prominent politicians, with Ben Carson in the lead (at the time) with 85% of statements-checked turning out to be lies, or at least statements that are probably known by Carson to be a lie. Trump was at about 75% at the time, President Obama at about 25%.
Should we care about such scores? Of course we should. Fact-checking is one way to cut through walls of bullshit the pseudocracy erects, even as those cuts seem to heal immediately, like a magic wall in a fantasy novel.
At the same time, one might reasonably ask of a candidate (for President of the United States) like Trump: Who cares if he’s lying? He is a mentally ill White Supremacist suffering from megalomania and cut off from customary attention to consequences, common decency, and reality. Why bother fact-checking when him he’s plainly unacceptable and makes the other candidate acceptable. It, the election, presents us with a binary choice between evil vs. ordinarily slippery.
A brief detour: I was listening to radio-coverage of the PGA golf tournament today as I was doing some home-maintenance outside. A reporter interviewed Chris Christie and said, “How about Trump?! He was quite a golf stick.” Citizens, this is the normalization of evil. It springs from many sources. In this case, the White privileged, right-wing nature of American golf, the notion that sports-commentary should never be “political” (and so you talk about a potential dictator’s golf-swing), the normalization of presidents with White Supremacist agendas: Nixon, Reagan, Bush, Bush. Essentially, most media and most citizens have watched with insufficient alarm as the GOP moved toward this evil mess, dragging the Democrats rightward along the way. Misogyny also got normalized along the way.
After I clicked on the link, I saw that among today’s headlines in the NTY were such things as why Hillary Clinton should fear a strategy that appeals to optimism and why the Democrats are gambling on “liberalism.” First, since when is Hillary Clinton a “liberal”? This is how out of wack our politics are. She prefers universal healthcare, which all other capitalist, industrial nations have, she likes infrastructure bills, she thinks women should control their own bodies, etc. She gives speeches to Wall Street. How is any of this “liberal”? Second, who gives a shit whether she’s liberal or not? Or what campaign strategies the’s using? She’s evidently sane, has normal adult restraint, and keeps up on current events. Close enough. I really don’t care about her track-record at this point. The people who voted for Trump put it out of consideration for me, and I hope it did for you, too. That Trump is this close to the White House shows, among other things, the extent to which American White Supremacy and whatever Trump suffers from (besides White Supremacist birther insanity) is potently evil.
As Mr. Khan said in the interview that followed his rational speech about Trump, “Now is the time.” The time to cast aside normal activities like support of Party, playing the game (as Ryan and McConnell are), fact-checking, poll-watching, golfing, etc. First, stop the evil GOP candidate. Then go back to normal programming. Okay?” Oy.