And other answers to unsolicited lies.
“Is it OK to just outright lie to people’s faces now? What role will the truth have going forward?” — Honest Henry
Fads are often started and ended by presidents. Abraham Lincoln tried to start, and inadvertently ended, the neck beard fad. Most presidents had cool handlebar mustaches from Chester Arthur until Woodrow Wilson. Every man in America used to wear a hat when outdoors at all times until John Kennedy. President Garfield tried to look cool at his Inauguration so he didn’t wear a coat. He died of pneumonia a month later. So the whole coatless fad didn’t catch on, at least among the living.
Lying is the new hot thing coming out of Washington, D.C. And not just the regular kind of lying, like, “We’re not listening to all your phonecalls. But say hi to your mom for us.” Lying about everything in a way where you begin to question whether the fabric of the universe has been torn asunder. Some in the new Administration are excellent liars. Some are clumsy. But they lie with such consistency, they lie with brute force. They lie about things that don’t matter. And they lie sometimes just to make you feel insane. They lie because they simply do not know how to tell the truth.
President Trump is a pretty good liar. He has a job that requires you to lie pretty much all the time. And he’s got this good denial voice. Trump beat Clinton on trust and honesty, so people think he lies slightly less than she does, I guess. Possibly this is just a man vs. woman thing. Men get away with murder. Women get blamed for everything.
Kellyanne Conway could talk the finish off a doorknob. To hear her speak is a pleasant romp through the entire Fallacies List. Even when she comes up with something ridiculous like “alternative facts,” it’s hard to dislike her. She’s doing donuts in the parking lot around stiffs in suits who are trying to dabble in reality, while she is a true artist of the impossible. Give it up, stiffs! She must have run track for Mineola Prep, like Frank O’Hara. I’m not sure why she even keeps getting invited to shows in which her appearances are so reliably reality-free. But I could watch her torment Jake Tapper all day.
Sean Spicer is less gifted at lying. He seems like a rookie. He’ll learn.
Should you adopt the New Not True in your daily life? I am a terrible liar, and I would only recommend people stick to things they’re good at. For me, that’s eating tacos and snoring. And I’m out of tacos. If you’re good at lying, go ahead. But what is really worth lying about? What’s worth having to keep all your bullshit straight? Having to be consistent about it. I can never figure out how people keep so many lies out there, spinning like plates, constantly. It must be exhausting.
The truth is supposed to set us free.
It was the Woody Allen movie “Bullets Over Broadway” that suggested that artists create their own moral universe. I think it was some kind of reaction to the outcry when he married his girlfriend’s daughter. But when you create a moral universe it usually looks like an immoral one to practically everyone else.
My best advice? Wait for this lying thing to die down. Trump will most likely be impeached for something by Memorial Day. I love Senate Hearings in the summer. Mike Pence isn’t great, but he’s not Trump. He calls his wife “Mother.” That’s weird, but not “3.5 million illegal immigrants voted for Hillary Clinton” weird. The truth is still definitely the way to go. Don’t go changing to win anyone’s approval. You’re a genius just the way you are. Yes, you are. A genius.
Plus, you fib every once in a while, too. When that neo-nazi got punched in the face the other day you felt delight. And yet you insist to everyone that will hear you that violence is not the answer. But it is an answer to something. Did you ever think you’d be in a hole this deep in which that felt good? It was mesmerizing. I watched it over and over again. I tried to justify it, and I can’t. That’s how far down we’ve been pushed. So don’t start lying on top of it. We don’t need lies. We need candy. Lots and lots of candy.
Jim Behrle lives in Jersey City and works at a bookstore.