“Political language… is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” – George Orwell
When I was a kid there was a three person merry-go-round in the park down the street from my house. Keep in mind these were the days when you rode your bicycle without a helmet, we didn’t wear seatbelts and your parents smoked in the car with the windows rolled-up, in a word, a very different time.
As an eight year old, me and two of my buddies could spin ourselves silly on this little contraption. The end results were always the same; we would get thrown off, throw-up or get so dizzy we couldn’t stand up. And what would we do after we recovered? That’s right, get right back on and do it all over again.
The spin coming out of the Trump Whitehouse is dizzying primarily because of all the players involved. First, we have a commander-in-chief that just says or tweets “shit”, whatever kind of “shit” that gathers and grows under that endangered species he calls hair (and if you hadn’t heard he takes the drug Propecia to grow that beast). To combat his diarrhea of the mouth his staff, specifically Kellyanne Conway, has coined a new term, Alternative Facts which many have described as an Orwellian phrase.
There is nothing new about political spin. I would suspect it goes back as far as the days of Moses wandering in the desert, but what we are experiencing now is, pardon my pun, a whole new spin. What makes this new spin so unique is the number of handlers it takes to juggle all the balls our President throws up into the air.
Think about it, this is the same guy who, in his book Trump: The Art of the Deal, promoted a term he called “truthful hyperbole” which was described as “an innocent form of exaggeration—and… a very effective form of promotion.” The book went on to explain that “people want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular.” That last sentence is very telling. It describes the man, his words and his actions to the T. His inauguration, “the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular.” His election as President, “the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular.” The cabinet he put together, “the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular.” His recent pick for the Supreme Court, “the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular.” The wall he plans to build, “the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular.” His plan to make America great again, “the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular.”
“The main difference between a cat and a lie is that a cat only has nine lives.” – Mark Twain
Our President thinks he is funny, cute and smart. But what I don’t see and haven’t seen as of yet is what I want most out of my President, serious. Consider his remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast asking a room full of lawmakers, foreign dignitaries and religious leaders to pray for Arnold Schwarzenegger so that the ratings of his show, NBC’s The Apprentice would go up. CNN described this quip as veering off script. In my mind it really wasn’t the setting to veer off script. Or think about what appeared to be the two most important matters to our President in his first week on the job, the size of the crowd at his inauguration and the “reason” why he lost the popular vote. And what did we hear and watch his handlers spend the week doing? Scramble and spin, polluting the air with Alternative Facts.
Patton Oswalt summed it up best when explaining his Twitter war with a Illinois real estate agent who was fired after getting into a nasty exchange with him; “But I’m afraid Peoria Realtor is going to be the first in a long line of Trumpers who will realize, on the other side of firings and divorces and black eyes, that Trump’s Teflon Umbrella covers Trump and no one else. His cabinet and staff are going to learn that as well.”
At some point Press Secretary Sean Spicer, Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway, and Chief of Staff Reince Priebus will wave the white flag and declare in the immortal words of Roberto Duran No más, No más. They will conclude as any sane, rational, human being would, that life is too short to spend each and everyday digging yourself out of the Alternative Facts black hole. And who will be left standing besides our President and the scary man lurking in the shadows, Mike Pence, who is waiting for the emperor to fail, the spin master himself, Steve Bannon.
“To cover politics in Washington allows you to live in the very, very wide gap between what the actual truth is, and how people are trying to manipulate the truth. They speak in the language of spin, obsequiousness, obfuscation. The meta of politics is just this endless source of material that can shed light on the psychology of the process.” – Mark Leibovich