The Corner

Politics & Policy

If the President Lies, Does It Matter?

The president was talking about the speech he had given to the Boy Scouts. He said, “I got a call from the head of the Boy Scouts saying it was the greatest speech that was ever made to them, and they were very thankful.” The Scouts organization says there was no call. In fact, the head of the Scouts, Michael Surbaugh, issued a statement apologizing to the scouting community for the partisan political nature of Trump’s speech.

Earlier, the president had talked about the speech he had given in Warsaw. “Enemies of mine are saying it was the greatest speech ever made on foreign soil by a president.”

Is that true? Have enemies said that?

Earlier, the president had talked about the speech he had given in Congress. “Some people said it was the single best speech ever made in that chamber.”

Is that true? Did anyone say that? Does it matter?

Go back to the 2016 campaign — just three statements, out of many amazing ones. Trump said he had received a letter from the NFL complaining about the scheduling of presidential debates (because they conflicted with football games). The NFL said: We sent no such letter.

Trump said the Koch brothers were mad at him because he had refused to meet with them. The Kochs said they had requested no such meeting. On the contrary, the Trump campaign had requested a meeting with them.

In a GOP-primary debate, Trump spoke of Putin: “I got to know him very well because we were both on 60 Minutes. We were stablemates.”

Is that true? And again, does it matter? This seems to be a fault line: not the question of whether the president tells the truth but whether it matters at all. A couple of months ago, a longtime conservative said to me, “I don’t care whether he lies.” Trump bludgeons the “MSM” and drives the Left crazy, and that was good enough for her. During the campaign, another longtime conservative said to me, “He’s not a liar, he’s a bullsh**ter — there’s a difference.”

Okay. But one more question: Would we be so tolerant of the lying, or the bullsh**ting, if a liberal Democrat were in office?

When Trump tells one of these whoppers, a lot of us yawn, I think. A “new normal” can become a regular old normal very quickly. But maybe yawning is not in order.

P.S. There are plenty of politicians, and plenty of non-politicians, who tell clever, subtle, slippery lies. But what of a politician — a president — who makes easily checkable statements? I mean, did the head of the Scouts place a call or not? Did the NFL send a letter or not? Where is that letter? Were Trump and Putin “stablemates” or not?

You know? The sheer brazenness of these things. The mindset that must be involved.

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