What Do You Do When Liars Don't Care If You Know They're Lying?
Hopefully tonight I can watch a bad episode of New Girl, a good episode of The Mick, and forget about the fact that Republicans hate telling the truth. But that hasn’t happened yet.
I should also explain at this point that part of the reason I’m so infuriated by the Republicans’ dishonesty isn’t because of my dedication to the truth. On the contrary, my friends and family will acknowledge that I’m actually a bit of a liar. I used to be a terrible liar, both in how I was telling lies and in purpose. I’d lie to get out of trouble, or to avoid having to do work. I was really an asshole about it. Now I lie for two reasons: 1) to make a story funnier (which we can all agree is barely lying. I prefer to think of it as a good edit), and 2) to ease social interactions. I tell a good deal of white lies to smooth interpersonal relationships of those around me. “We loved your art show!” “Oh, I would love to go to your daughter’s ballet recital, but I promised June I’d take her to the airport. Argh!” “Huh, I’m not sure why your son hasn’t returned your text, Mother-in-law. Let me see if he forgot to charge his phone again (even the “Mother-in-law” is an inaccuracy that I like to employ. Because “Mother-in-law” is easier to say than “The-Mother-Of-The-Man-With-Whom-I’ve-Been-In-A-Relationship-For-Eleven-Years-And-Am-Committed-To-But-With-Whom-I-Don’t-Wish-To-Commingle-Finances-Or-Genes-So-There’s-No-Reason-To-Get-Legal-On-This-Shit-And-Also-I’m-Not-Sure-I-Believe-In-Marriage-Anyway.”)
As an adult, I’ve learned the importance of facing mistakes head on, and so I no longer avoid consequences with lies. But even as a child, I understood the fundamental relationship that liar and lie-e share. If they catch you and call you out, you have to fess up. What infuriates me about this batch of liars isn’t that they lie. It’s their unwillingness to abide by the “You Got Me” clause of the lying contract. For example:
For those who can’t sit through the entire thing (even though Savannah Guthrie and Matt Lauer do an admirable job of basically calling everyone on Trump’s team a lair), I’d like to highlight an exchange that happens right around the 4:30 mark. Guthrie asks Conway about the new jobs report. Trump’s called them “phony” just a few months ago, but now seems to believe they’re proving what a great job he’s doing. I can’t imagine what’s changed. When asked about the reports, Sean Spicer said, “Yeah, I talked to the President prior to this, and he said to quote him very clearly, ‘They may have been phony in the past, but they’re very real now.’” See? It’s funny because the President has no credibility!
Which leads to this exchange:
Guthrie: Where’s the credibility? They’re saying, “Those numbers were fake, but now they’re real because I happen to be in the White House.” Conway: The credibility is in the $7 billion Intel took off the shelves, and is going to unleash in investment because they’re working with President Trump to do so. The credibility is in the 235 thousand new jobs created. In other words, he’s the president now.
Yeah, man, that’s our point. They’re lying with such absolute abandon that Conway didn’t even notice when she conceded Guthrie’s argument. And I have absolutely no idea how to argue with a person when they refuse to follow even their own argument. I am very good at arguing, and I’m very good at lying. And my expertise in both has left me unable to react to people who do both so poorly and so much.
Luckily for me, Seth Meyers has an answer.
One thing that’s become clear over the past week is that lying is now such a central feature of Trump administration that many in D.C. just take it for granted.
Lauer and Guthrie did one of the best jobs I’ve seen in trying to pin down an honest answer from Conway. But their approach is wrong. You don’t argue with a small child, because small children have no grasp on the truth or logic. You just acknowledge that they’re going to say the stupidest, most contradictory shit ever, and then you make them do what you wanted anyway. Republicans are children. So I’ll deal with the adults in the room from now on.