Is There A Difference?

President Trump complained once again that he is being treated poorly (and unfairly) by the news media. The President says that whatever he says is questioned by the press, more so than any other President. Even if the press correctly points out that a Trump statement is literally false (or generously, inaccurate), the President calls the publication of such a finding, “fake news”. Hmmm.

The Washington Post reported this week on a June 15, 2016 gathering including House Speaker Paul Ryan and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Following a session with the Ukrainian foreign minister, when a small group of Republicans were together, McCarthy said to the group he would guarantee Russian President Putin was paying two Americans, one being Donald Trump. A week later, Donald Trump was nominated at the GOP convention.

Fast forward to this week when the Post decided to publish an account of this meeting. The Washington Post approached Speaker Ryan and Leader McCarthy’s offices about the pending article and informed them of what they would quote Ryan and McCarthy saying.

The offices responded that the report was incorrect, it never happened. The Post then went back and said they had a transcript. The offices responded again that the transcript was wrong, if not made up. Finally the Post told the offices they had a recording and the story changed. The offices then said that McCarthy had told a bad joke and there was nothing to it.

Hmmm.

President Trump makes statements which can easily be shown to be inaccurate. Two experienced political leaders make statements which they deny ever making. And they continue to deny making these statements until it is established a recording exists and then a spin is applied. Hmmm. Is there a difference?

Maybe… more like, however, a difference without a distinction.

President Trump says things that are inaccurate, (the kindest interpretation might be stretching the truth). When called for this exaggeration, the President doubles down, repeats the inaccurate statements, and claims unfair treatment.

The Congressmen says something, in private, which they could have believed true. When called up on the statements, this party denies ever having made the statements and avoid providing any proof that their statements might be true.  The Congressmen deny and deny until the evidence is overwhelmingly obvious, and at that point admit making the statement.  Without losing a breath, the Congressmen spin their statements to mean something quite different.

John Q Public hears all this and is puzzled. How could the office of the President say something so outrageously wrong? Why would the President say such things? Press of business? Victim of hateful media?

John Q Public also sees and watches elected officials and is just as disillusioned. The Public has such a low opinion of Congress for good reasons. When a Congressional member denies something, the Public has learned to discount the Congress member’s claims.

So here’s the difference. President Trump is newly elected. His supporters are giving the President wide latitude around what he says (because the Public is still hopeful that President Trump will make “their” American great again.  for Congress members (both Republican and Democrat), the boat has already sailed.   Congress members, on the other hand, may want to think they are not “lying” and certainly will go to extremes with denials and spins.  Congress members are quite comfortable speaking past the question asked, misdirecting the questioner to another topic, and if all else fails, fall back on “I can’t remember the details”.

See the difference?

In truth both President Trump and Congress members are telling John Q Public that honesty, directness, and good intentions are over valued virtues. Rather “not losing” in the case of Congress, and “winning” in the case of President Trump are the goals.

What is worrisome is that enough Americans voted for a person unfamiliar with truthfulness and elected Donald Trump.  If his Presidency becomes unhinged, who will these Americans turn to?  What even more outrageous and unprovable promises will the next candidate be willing to put forward?

John Q Public will be disappointed with President Trump if America is not made great again.  President Trump’s lack of truthfulness may not matter, results will.  If Trump is a one term President, what will the next President have to promise to get elected?

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