Truce with no truth

bob_franken_cWouldn’t it be astounding if we read the morning news one day and the headline was “Everything President Trump Said Yesterday Was Entirely True”? Put that one in the “not likely” category.

Donald Trump has made lying an art form (a crude art form, certainly), to the point where we can’t be sure that his name actually is Donald Trump. He’s that untrustworthy. According to The Washington Post’s “Fact Checker,” Trump (or whoever he is) averaged 15 falsehoods a DAY in 2018!

There should be a competition among politicians, obviously sponsored by Burger King, for the single biggest whopper of the year. Or perhaps a monthly, weekly, daily or even hourly contest. It doesn’t matter, because the winner would be the Trumpster. The prize would fit right into his diet: all the Whoppers he could eat.

In this era, where everything is true because social media says it is, and everything on mainstream media is “fake news,” we should recognize this national champion. Let us not forget that he’d be competing with other lying politicians (pardon the redundancy), so he’d be running on a fast track. Even though it was slippery, he’d race far ahead of the “alternative fact” pack.

Not that it isn’t a crowded field: Mitt Romney has now become “Senator Moonwalk,” as in a remarkable ability to walk backward away from positions he had earlier staked out. He flipped from calling Trump “a con man, a fake” in the 2016 campaign, to groveling and almost kissing his ring (or whatever) when he wanted to become Trump’s secretary of state, and later accepting the Trump imprimatur as he ran for and won the race for Utah senator. Now he flips once again, describing POTUS in the Post as a president who has not “risen to the mantle of the office.”

Even his niece, Ronna Romney McDaniel called that “disappointing and unproductive.” It should be mentioned that Ronna McDaniel is the Trump-chosen chair of the Republican National Committee. She later claimed, “I love my uncle.” Let us never forget that here in D.C., water runs thicker than blood.

Still, it is Donald Trump who’s the prevaricator in chief. He wins that award small hands down. Unfortunately, it means that anyone who deals with him can anticipate that his word means nothing. Unless that word is “treacherous.” The problem is that in the honor-among-thieves realm of politics, like in various shady pursuits, your word is still supposed to be binding. A pledge made during private negotiation maneuvering is how you come up with a workable compromise.

The trick is, during all the hard-nosed public posturing, for anonymous staff members to concoct an agreement that settles the government shutdown. The opportunistic blame-placing will have run its course. Only then will a bargain stick and be quickly presented to the relieved members of Congress getting heat from back home.

Someone in the White House will figuratively have to put gaffer’s tape over Trump’s mouth and shackle his tweet hands until he signs the bill around midnight to escape the hard questions. Then, each side will declare victory. But the Democrats will have to worry about that part of the process. Apparently, his only truth-telling is inadvertent, because the “Art of the Lie” really works.

(Bob Franken is an Emmy Award-winning reporter who covered Washington for more than 20 years with CNN.)

© 2019 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.