President Trump Has This Unfortunate Habit In Common With The Clintons: He Lies For No Reason

Bill Clinton’s proclivity for lying in public just because he felt like it drove me dangerously close to stark raving mad. He lied about trivia and substantive matters; he lied when it was easy to check his facts. Hillary’s similar penchant arguably was more infuriating, because she was so bad at it. She would be President today if she had just  admitted that she screwed up by using a “home-brewed” server. All she had to say was that she didn’t understand the technology and made serious mistakes, even to the extent of sending messages that contained classified material and violating her own department’s policy. She could have done this in 2015, and never heard a peep about the matter again. Not that I was sorry to see her torpedo her own candidacy, but still: how ridiculous and unnecessary.

The Democratic/resistance/mainstream media narrative about Trump’s lies is exaggerated and hypocritical, especially giving the stream of whoppers that routinely issue from Pelosi, Schumer, Warren, Schiff and others. Unlike other “resistance” themes, however, it isn’t entirely unwarranted. Trump, as I have noted for a long time, just says stuff; half the time I’m pretty sure he believes complete fantasy when he says these things. That’s not a mitigation. A U.S. President can’t responsibly do that, but Trump does, has, and presumably always will. This is Julie Principle territory: Fish gotta swim, Birds gotta fly, When he’s off script, Trump’s gonna lie.

Shortly after he was elected, I wrote,

Donald Trump, more than any national figure in my lifetime,  requires a careful, measured application of The Julie Principle to serve everyone’s best interest. Screaming “TRUMP IS TRUMP! ARRGHHHHH!” for four years will do no good at all. Find a way to co-exist with him so his negative proclivities do as little damage as possible and his positive ones have a chance to thrive, and save the explosions of indignation for substantive matters where opposition is essential.

All of that said—and did I call it, or what?—it is astounding to me that after three years in office we still have to endure infuriating episodes like the constantly shifting explanations for why General Soleimani was droned.

From the interview with Defense Secretary Mike Esper on “Face the Nation” yesterday:

ESPER: Well, what the president said was he believed that it probably and could have been attacks against additional embassies. I shared that view. I know other members of national security team shared that view. That’s why I deployed thousands of American paratroopers to the Middle East to reinforce our embassy in Baghdad and other sites throughout the region.

MARGARET BRENNAN: “Probably” and “could have been.” That is — that sounds more like an assessment than a specific, tangible threat with a decisive piece of intelligence.

ESPER: Well, the president didn’t say there was a tangible — he didn’t cite a specific piece of evidence. What he said is he probably — he believed, could have been —

BRENNAN: Are you saying there wasn’t one?

ESPER: I didn’t see one with regard to four embassies. What I’m saying is, I share the president’s view that probably — my expectation was they were going to go after our embassies.

Later yesterday, on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Esper added, “But what the president said was, he believed. He said [Soleimani] could have been targeting — all those things that I believe as well, that the national security team believes as well…What the president said was, he believed it probably could have been. He didn’t cite intelligence.”

There’s no excuse for this! Killing Iran’s murderous terrorist required no excuses or contrived justifications: he had murdered many Americans and others; it was virtually certain that he would murder more; his fingerprints were on the attack on the American Embassy in Iraq…what’s the problem?

There was none. Now the President is saying  it didn’t matter if Soleimani posed an imminent threat to the United States, because of his “horrible past.” Why couldn’t he have just stuck with that from the beginning?

I sometimes wonder if Trump was abused as a child, and his parents punished him indiscriminately. He was never sure whether the truth would get him beaten or get his pony shot or something, so he developed lying as a reflex as a defense mechanism. At least that would make some sense, though the lying would still qualify as pathological.

Otherwise, this is routine, pointless, self-destructive unethical behavior.

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12 thoughts on “President Trump Has This Unfortunate Habit In Common With The Clintons: He Lies For No Reason

  1. Jack,
    For the life of me I do not know why elected people simply don’t state what is factually correct and more importantly the right thing. I am beginning to think that we are training politicians to feel it necessary to shade what is actually true.

    Had Trump simply stated:

    Soleimani has been a rogue actor for many years. His exploits are legendary in the Jihadist world which is why he is so revered by those that proclaim “Death to America”. He is responsible for countless deaths and maiming of both American service men and women as well as Iraqi civilians because he orchestrated numerous attacks in the region. For that reason alone he is an enemy combatant and not a political leader.

    Like the killing of Osama bin Laden or Anwar el Alaki (sp?) by President Obama we could not point to a specific imminent threat to US interests when we got the opportunity to put an end to his murderous ways. However like the two other individuals we have targeted in the past, the general posed a significant threat to the stability of the middle east in which we have invested over a trillion dollars trying to stabilize. In light of the recent attacks on our embassy in concert with the drone attacks on Saudi oil facilities and other aggressive acts initiated by Iran’s leadership I mad the decision to stand up for American interest and the interests of the civilian populations in the region. The opportunity to eliminate him as a threat with no collateral damage to civilians was there and we took the opportunity to neutralize him as a threat.

    We have no desire to escalate

    • I left off the closing paragraph.

      Had he done so it would have shown him as a better leader. Far too many hide behind the idea we cannot disclose information as it would harm national security.

      On the other hand, I don’t get why Mike Lee or any of the others want or need a specific threat to be identified when none was needed for bin Laden or Anwar el Alaki (the chief radicalizer and American citizen) and his child when the two were eliminated in similar fashion.

  2. Jack,
    You suggested childhood events may have played a role. I would say the punditry and polls play a larger than life role in the in the increasing prevalence of trying to avoid tough but necessary statements by our leaders or the outright prevarications from detractors of those leaders.

  3. Actually I think it’s reasonable to believe that Soleimani might have been planning an attack on one or more of the Embassies. That certainly happened in the past with Bin Laden and the terrorists who wound up killing Chris Stevens and his staff in Benghazi. However like the Clintons, Trump thinks he’s the smartest guy in the room and will lie to get the job done. Narcissism isn’t a great quality in a president.

  4. Maybe I’m missing the point, but specific intelligence will always be denied in order to protect the method or person who gave that intelligence. Further obfuscation and misdirection are techniques that all great generals of the past have used. I think that the president uses these techniques, either inadvertently or on purpose, to his advantage.

  5. Believe with all the untruths floating around; I pray the Swiss Back Channel’s role in defusing tensions between the U.S. and Iran never goes away. They sure helped to deescalate the tension from evolving into a more highly escalated level.

    Soleimani was an evil man. President Trump had the opportunity to remove Soleimani without killing too many others. Thank Goodness!

    Truth and honesty no longer seem important in society and instead appears to be the norm and acceptable. Consequently, a large portion of society is okay with the government levels of lies.

    I believe the following two things helped President Trump do what he felt needed without Congress approval. If the following has not been changed since inception, this will also give the next sitting presidents the same powers as it did with the current and last two administrations.
    Congress voted for Public Law 107-243 and the AUMF ( https://bipartisanpolicy.org/blog/what-the-aumf-is-and-why-you-should-care-2018/ )

    Congress is the only one that can declare war, and declaring war is not what Trump is doing on paper. Trump very well could be using what is available to him if using Public Law 107-243, just as the previous administrations did. By using Public Law, 107-243 made his actions legal, and Congress made it so. Was this action costly to the American people? Absolutely. It brought about being able to impose on our freedoms such as FISA. The government does not have to make the public aware of immense financial cost/s’ for the continuance of wars. Other-words, honesty does not have to be shown or told. Bills such as this are enablers of lies and dangerous ones.
    This falls back into Congress’s lap, not being able to accept and take responsibility. Congress’s very own failures and lack of responsibility help create these vast and dangerous messes in the Middle East.

  6. So it seems that Trump is a subscriber to my old boss’s theory: “Never tell the truth when a lie will do just as well…”

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