As 2016 (and its attendant nightmare of primary and general elections) nears, those of us who value veracity find ourselves in a bit of a pickle … and not even the crisp, tasty sort.
In politics, no one, apparently, can hear you tell the truth.
I’ve yet to find in this era any politician who doesn’t stretch the truth at least a little bit … of course, if you’re Donald Trump, you’re looking at elastic that’s juuust about ready to snap.
I don’t want to be anywhere around him when that happens.
Remember that crowd of 15,000 (or 10,000 or 20,000 … it was MASSIVE, anyway, according to him, as are all things related to him) in Phoenix that went to hear him speak, for which he posted a photo on his Facebook page, noting, “This is what 15,000 people looks like”?
Yeah, not so much.
City officials say the maximum capacity for the room is 4,200 people, and fire marshals closed the doors at 4,169.
Of course, when that was revealed, Trump said fire officials didn’t want to admit that they violated code by letting 12,000 to 15,000 people in the room. Let’s just think about what that many people in that size a room would look like … you don’t need to breathe, do ya? And this is hardly the only, or first, time he’s exaggerated his attendance numbers … or his net worth … or pretty much anything.
Trump does what a lot of people do when they’re caught in a lie, or when a fact-check proves a cherished belief to be untrue: He gets defensive and pins the lie on someone else, whether it’s fire officials, Megyn Kelly (who, now that she’s returned from vacation, he’s attacking anew), Rosie O’Donnell, etc.
He’s a true class act.
So fact-checkers do their due diligence and track down the actual numbers that Trump and his campaign couldn’t be bothered with for this and other matters, and dutifully report their findings, the better ones providing links to documentation. Even publications like Entertainment Weekly got in on the debunking.
The result? Not much, really. Trump’s poll numbers have slipped slightly, but he’s still far ahead of the rest of the pack on the Republican side.
It’s enough to make you want to check in at the psych ward. I’ll save you a bed, hopefully away from the hair-eaters.
Political myths persist on all sides, no matter how much people try to debunk them. Opponents of the Affordable Care Act, for example, will continue to insist that no one in Congress had much of an opportunity to read it before it was passed, citing Nancy Pelosi’s much-truncated and out-of-context quote, “But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.”
In reality, Sen. Max Baucus of Montana introduced an outline of what would eventually become the law a few days after the 2008 general election. (Of course, health-care reform has been floated for a century, at least since Teddy Roosevelt’s time in office.) Senators worked on developing the bill throughout the spring and summer of 2009; the bipartisan Senate Finance Committee held 53 hearings on provisions in the bill, and marked up the bill for seven days (according to the Senate site, it was the longest markup period in 22 years) before sending it to the Senate floor, where 25 legislative days were spent debating the bill.
It taxes the notions of truth and common sense to say that no one read it in all that time, especially considering that the text was available to Congress and the public for most of that period. Anyone in Congress who hadn’t read it by the time it was voted on simply didn’t fulfill their duties.
That quote from Pelosi, by the way, came about two and a half months after the Senate passed the bill, and two weeks before the House finally passed it on to the president … not that that mattered to political rumor-mongers. Still, she and several other very talkative pols could stand to keep a lid on it sometimes—the hyperbole, the ad-libs, the general annoying quality …
Yeah, I know, not gonna happen. Pelosi, Harry Reid, Mitch McConnell, John Boehner and others will continue to put their Italian leather shoes in their mouths. They just can’t help it.
Despite all the evidence that disproves the many rumors and myths in the political arena (perhaps especially when delivered by a braggart who supposedly “tells it like it is”), there are still adherents who won’t let falsehoods die.
Examples abound of people digging in on crazy beliefs belied by ample proof (chemtrails, fluoride conspiracy, fake moon landing, etc.). MIT political science professor Adam Berinsky determined that, in fact-checkers’ efforts to make sure the truth is known whenever a politician distorts the facts or outright lies, those myths (you know, those things that you want to be true that you keep saying, but that have little basis in reality, like cookie crumbs having no calories) are just being reinforced. If someone with similar political leanings to the audience debunks something, though, then the fact-check is believed.
Basically, we’re all petulant toddlers refusing to go to bed because that’s what “the man” wants. We’ll go to bed when we want to!
Maybe if all the fact-checkers lay off Donald Trump for a while, people will stop believing him and he’ll just fade away.
Wait … that “ignore it and it will go away” thing’s a myth too. Dang it.
My mom reminded me that it’s been a while since I’ve taken on words and sayings, so I’ll need your help. Have a favorite word (mine include words such as persnickety, amok and discombobulated) or saying (maybe “finer than a frog’s hair split three ways”)? Send it on to me at email@example.com, and it may show up in a future column.
Besides, I hate getting worked up over politics. I’m starting to annoy Luke more than usual. I didn’t think it was possible, but …