As I write this, the Republican National Convention is fewer than 24 hours away from starting. What commentators from both sides of the aisle have consistently said is that no one knows exactly how it will compare with the Democratic National Convention, which was held last week.
And while most people saw the Democratic speakers as upbeat and future-looking, a few others, most notably President Trump, saw the convention as “gloomy.” https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/513110-trump-decries-democratic-convention-as-gloomiest-in-history
During the RNC, it is clear that Trump will be on the attack against Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris. If the past is any precursor, his rhetoric will be full of lies, assumptions, and bad-faith statements.
Joe Biden is the first to admit that he has made his share of gaffes. These include the recent cringe-worthy statement, “If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.” And the 2006 one that was equally as cringe-worthy, “You cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent…I’m not joking.”
No one excuses or condones these statements. And, there’s no doubt they hurt people’s feelings, but they were not policy statements, and, when he said them, Biden was not president.
Trump does not make gaffes. He tells outright lies, more than 20,000 of them since he’s been in office, according to the Washington Post.
Before I go any further, let’s define our terms. Webster defines gaffe (not gaff, which is a handled hook for holding or lifting heavy fish), as “a social or diplomatic blunder.” Generally, it’s a statement made with no intent to insult or deceive. At best, it’s a mistake; at worst, it’s an error in judgment.
A lie, however, is defined as a “falsehood uttered or acted for the purpose of deception; an intentional violation of truth; an untruth spoken with the intention to deceive.”
I’m sure plenty of Republicans will judge Biden on his gaffes, saying he is not worthy of holding the office of president. To these people I say two things.
First, you cannot judge someone for making a mistake if you have never made one yourself. And we have all made mistakes.
Second, and more importantly, before you criticize Biden, take a look in your own backyard.
Remember, Trump has lied more than 20,000 times. How would you handle a child who did that?
And, not to be repetitive, but what a president says, matters. Making things worse is the fact that most of his lies have appeared in his Twitter posts. Why does that matter?
In 2017, the ABA Journal, which describes itself as “the flagship magazine of the American Bar Association,” reported this: “The Department of Justice on Monday told a federal district court judge In Washington, D.C. that Donald Trump’s tweets are ‘official statements of the President of the United States.’” https://www.abajournal.com/news/article/government_says_trumps_tweets_are_official_presidential_statements
That’s why it matters.
Among the reasons people lie, https://www.paulekman.com/blog/why-do-people-lie-motives/ according to Paul Ekman, who holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, are:
- To avoid being punished,
- To obtain a reward not otherwise readily obtainable,
- To win the admiration of others.
That last one is key when it comes to Trump. Based on statements and books by friends, associates and relatives of the president, seeking admiration is something he does as a natural part of his life. It’s what he needs to keep going. It’s what feeds his ego.
This is important for many reasons. Mainly, a United States president’s words carry more weight than those of any other citizen. People, mainly members of his base, believe everything he says.
When Trump said he chose not to wear a mask during the COVID pandemic, others, and this is from taped news reports, said, “If he’s not going to wear one, neither am I.”
When he said “there were very good people on both sides” of an anti-Semitic march, people believed him and had their negative opinions of Jews reinforced based on that statement.
And when he spouts lies abut Biden and Harris, I’m afraid, the same thing will happen.
So when Trump takes the spotlight during the next four days, take what he says with a grain of salt. Actually, more than a grain. I would say a bucketful would be more appropriate.