Tuesday, February 12, 2019


Here's a well-known quote from Donald Trump's first book, The Art of the Deal:
The final key to the way I promote is bravado. I play to people’s fantasies. People may not always think big themselves, but they can still get very excited by those who do. That’s why a little hyperbole never hurts. People want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular. I call it truthful hyperbole. It’s an innocent form of exaggeration—and a very effective form of promotion.
You could argue that if it's hyperbole, it's not truthful, and you'd be right, of course. But Trump did this in business for years. In some ways it was harmless -- it was meant to gull the rubes (us) so we'd believe that Trump was an amazing dealmaker and that everything he touched was the absolute best. His counterparties in those deals generally knew how much he was lying, or at least had lawyers who did. On the other hand, the poor schlubs who worked for him and didn't get paid, or got paid a fraction of what they were promised, were genuinely victimized by "truthful hyperbole" -- it was hyperbole about how much money they'd earn, which in other contexts is called "fraud." (See also Trump University.)

Still, none of this had implications for the broad general public until Trump turned to politics. Now this is his M.O. as president of the United States. And he doesn't just use hyperbole to describe everything as "the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular" -- he uses it to describe things as terrible or horrifying. Every deal negotiated by a predecessor -- NAFTA, the Iran deal -- is "the worst deal ever made." Enemies are "horrible people."

And then there's this:

That's not what Northam said, as I told you late last month. He was talking about mothers, in consultation with doctors, making medical decisions about non-viable fetuses, or fetuses with severe deformities, after birth.

Kalli Joy Gray watches the clip and tweets: "This is how you get people to shoot up abortion clinics. Saying total lies like this." Charlie Pierce writes:
This is an appeal to a movement that already has a body count built up through clinic bombings, clinic shootings, and the assassination of doctors and clinic personnel. That's not even to mention the vandalism, arson, and stalking that have been visited on these clinics and their employees. [Trump] starts talking about Northam's "executing" beautiful, innocent babies and somebody out there with a gun may postpone his trip to Comet Pizza in D.C. and make a side trip to Richmond instead.
But remember, Trump didn't start this. Long before he weighed in on Northam's remarks, Marco Rubio tweeted, "I never thought I would see the day America had government officials who openly support legal infanticide." Ben Sasse said, “In just a few years pro-abortion zealots went from ‘safe, legal, and rare’ to ‘keep the newborns comfortable while the doctor debates infanticide.’” And in the right-wing media, there was this headline from Gateway Pundit: "SHOCK: Democrat Virginia Governor Ralph Northam Endorses the Murder of Babies — AFTER THEY ARE BORN!"

Long before Donald Trump became a politician, Republicans were engaging in this sort of (un)truthful hyperbole. (Ask Al Gore, who never said he invented the Internet.) It's only fitting that the deceitful hyperbole guy wound up as the head of the GOP, because the GOP has been, for years, the deceitful hyperbole party. They were destined for each other.

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