President Trump has gone full Orwell.
As he pointed at the media in the room, he told a convention of veterans yesterday: “What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening.”
Orwell said, “The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.”
So, it doesn’t seem Orwellian, it is Orwellian
Our President now tells us not to be believe what we see and hear. He will do that for us. Sound like other strongmen you know?
I still believe my own eyes, as I’m sure you do. And my eyes tell me that Trump has reached a new, even more dangerous stage.
This really is happening.
When he first took office he seemed overwhelmed (understandably). He hired advisors who he could depend on to keep him on the straight and narrow, so to speak. Now, though, he is shedding himself of those men and women and appointing in their places lap dogs. Those waiting in line to take those jobs (as short a line as it may be) have seen what happened to those who preceded them when they asserted their roles and gave honest advice. It was ignored and they were gone.
We all saw the “hostage video” the other day of Trump trying to read a correction for what we all saw with our eyes and heard with our ears: Trump believing Vladimir Putin over his own intelligence agencies. As he struggled, like a 4th grader, to explain he meant “wouldn’t” instead of “would,” or vice versa, it makes no dffierence, we saw what a different person he becomes, like the rest of us, when we are doing something we’re forced do to. We do it without conviction.
If you go to a presidential speech, as yesterday’s was (it was NOT a political rally, well, uh, unless you believe your own eyes and ears) you are not watching a show, you are witnessing a strongman tell you he will be your eyes and ears. He will tell you what’s good and bad for you.
His audience yesterday was thousands of American war veterans. Many of those veterans served on missions where reporters accompanied them. Missions where soldiers were lost. Reporters were, too. Martha Raddatz, a veteran war correspondent with ABC News, wrote about it yesterday. She was with them in the field, riding in the fighter jets to get eyewitness accounts for those of us back home, taking the same risks as the military men and women she accompanied. Suffice it to say, I believe her eyes and ears when she risks her life to report to me what’s really going on.
Many vets had reporters trailing them, experiencing the same hail of bullets or bombs they did. Demonstrating bravery to get their job done. The President, on the other hand, avoided military service with foot spurs. And now he talks like a veteran, like someone who served with them. He didn’t. But reporters did.
In fact, after the speech, the VFW issued a statement that said, in part: "“We rely on the media to spread the VFW message, and @CNN, @NBCNews, @ABC, @FoxNews, @CBSNews, & others on site today, were our invited guests. We were happy to have them there.”
On the trade front, Trump tells us the USA lost $817 billion in cash last year because we ran trade deficits with many countries, demonstrating that while he avoided military service he also wasn’t paying attention in his economics classes because that isn’t true either. Trade deficits are not a zero sum gain. So, he sinks us into a trade war even his fellow Republicans don’t want and now feels obligated to bail out the farmers who were hurt by his policy – because they are key in the states he won in 2016.
How? We put tariffs on other countries, they put tariffs on us. The most important products are always selected in such trade wars (one of which helped sink us into the depression nearly 70 years ago, thank you Mr. Smoot and Mr. Hawley). In this case, they’ve selected our farmers who, as luck would have it, are largely in states won by Trump in 2016, directly threatening Trump and his popularity.
Farmers don’t want to be in a position to accept a government bailout, they want open markets to sell to. And Trump is not opening markets. And the program he is using to filter that money to farmers was a program his budget cut! And it was a program to protect farmers against a bad crop year, not a bad presidential policy.
On the “witch hunt” front, Trump’s “lawyer” Rudy Giuliani is putting out transcripts of phone calls Trump’s former “lawyer” Michael Cohen had demonstrating Trump did know about payments to a Playboy model he had an affair with, despite all his denials of such a thing. As does Trump, Giuliani gives his own interpretation of those transcripts reinforcing that we should not believe our own eyes and ears but trust his lying eyes.
Then we hear that Trump’s reaction to this news was shock that Cohen recorded him. “How could he do that to me?” Trump reportedly told his advisors.
As pieces of Trump’s “narrative” are falling apart in front of our eyes, he gets his back up even more. It’s what worked for him in his business career. He threatened, he barked, he called names and, somehow, he created an image as someone who made billions of dollars. Something we can’t prove or disprove because he will not release his tax records, despite saying he would once the IRS “audit” was over. Believe me, there is no audit pending this long. He just is lying.
Lying works for him, though. His approval rate among Republicans is sky high. I’m no polling expert but using anecdotal evidence, those Republican ranks have shrunk because many of us left the party when Trump took over. As we depress ourselves over the numbers, remember that both the Republican and Democratic registrations have been declining over the years. And Independents have grown – they make the difference in campaigns now, if they vote.
Which gets me away from the major point today: Trump is feeling more confident in his role. That’s partly because he basically watches and believes Fox News’ talking heads who are in the tank for Trump. Who tell him he is the best President since sliced bread. Trump likes to put himself in the same GOP category of successful presidents as Abe Lincoln. Except Lincoln freed the slaves. He built America, he didn’t run it down.
Reporters for outlets like CNN, NBC, CBS, ABC, The Washington Post, The New York Times and others are doing amazing work these days. Trump, via an unintended consequence, has made reporters better than they were before. Those reporters are our eyes and ears.
Thank the Lord.