May 23, 2019

The Scandal That Might Take Trump Down

“One thing that Donald Trump’s supporters intuited very early on is that his lies are, generally speaking, unimportant. Attempts — like this one — to catalogue them seem quixotic at best and at worst moronic. There are several reasons for this, the most important of which is that many of these are only “lies” in the sense that stand-up comedians or motivational speakers are “lying.” (This is not a problem unique to Trump: I defy the reader to identify any propositions in a speech about “values” that could even be evaluated as true or false without making a kind of category mistake.)

Even when there is some meaningful content that can be investigated the effort is rarely worth making. Have the numberless occasions on which Trump has been economical with the actualité made any difference — to his friends or his enemies? The former do not care; the latter are overwhelmed by the sheer volume.

But it would be foolish to think that there can be no exceptions to this rule. There must be things about which not even Trump could lie — clearly and demonstrably lie, I mean, not say something of doubtful or unverifiable authority — with impunity. The circumstances surrounding the rescue of Otto Warmbier, the American who died soon after being released from a North Korean prison last year, are, I think obviously one of these.”

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