The “Big Lie” strategy of public opinion manipulation, most infamously championed by Adolf Hitler and his propaganda master Joseph Goebbels, has, in sinister fashion, become a routine and ubiquitous component of the Left’s efforts to remove President Donald J. Trump from office without having to defeat him at the polls. One of the most publicized Big Lies, that the President had “colluded” with the Russian government to “steal” the Presidential election from Hillary Clinton was recently exposed as such by the results of the Mueller investigation, and Democrats, with blazing speed, replaced it with another Big Lie that there is a “Constitutional crisis.”
Becoming addicted to relying on Big Lies as a political strategy is not the sign of ethical political parties, movements, or ideologies.
Perhaps there is a useful distinction between Big Lies and “false narratives,” but I can’t define one. Both are intentional falsehoods designed to frame events in a confounding and deceptive manner, so public policy debates either begin with them as assumptions, thus warping the discussion, or they result in permanent bias, distrust and suspicion of the lie/narrative’s target. For simplicity’s sake, because I believe it is fair to do so, and also because “Big Lie” more accurately reflects just how unethical the tactic is, that is the term I will use in this and the posts to come
Big Lie #1. “Trump is just a reality TV star.”
This one began at the very start of Trump’s candidacy. It’s pure deceit: technically accurate in part but completely misleading. Ronald Reagan was subjected to a similar Big Lie when Democrats routinely referred to him as just an actor, conveniently ignoring the fact that he had served as Governor of the largest state in the nation for eight years, and had split his time between acting and politics for many years before that, gradually becoming more involved in politics and public policy. (Reagan once expressed faux puzzlement about the denigration of his acting background, saying that he thought acting was an invaluable skill in politics. He was right, of course.)
In Trump’s case, the disinformation was even more misleading: he was a successful international businessman and entrepreneur in real estate, hotels and casinos, and it was that experience, not his successful, late career foray into “The Apprentice” (as a branding exercise, and a brilliant one), that was the basis of his claim to the Presidency.
The “reality star” smear appeared in several articles I read just last week, and I read far from everything. The tactic is indefensible ethically. It is not only dishonest, intentionally distorting the President’s legitimate executive experience and success, expertise and credentials, it is also an ad hominem attack. Reality shows are primarily modern freak shows allowing viewers to look down on assorted lower class drunks, vulgarians,has-been, exhibitionists, idiots and freaks. Class bigotry has always been a core part of the NeverTrump cabal, with Ivy League snobs like Bill Kristol, the Bushes, and George Will revealing that they would rather capitulate to the Leftist ideology they have spent their professional lives opposing than stoop to being on the same team as a common barbarian like Trump.
With all of this, the final irony is that “The Apprentice” wasn’t even a true reality show. It was an elimination contest, with Donald Trump as the arbiter.
The earliest of the Big Lies backfired on its creators. Trump’s opposition began to believe it themselves,causing them to under-estimate their adversary. They realized, too late, that they weren’t running against poor Anna Nicole Smith, Kim Kardashian, or Scott Baio, but a tough, ruthless, confident street fighter with some impressive leadership and public speaking skills.
It is a mark of how flat the learning curve of the President’s adversaries is that they still think calling him a “reality TV star” shows anything but their own dishonesty and ignorance.