During the Nazi rise to power, an educated “Christian” nation fearfully traded freedom for economic and political security and nearly took the whole world down with it. In the aftermath, in 1949, George Orwell penned his horror novel, 1984, in which the Nazi formula has been taken to its extreme.
The “hero” of the novel, Winston Smith, works for the Ministry of Truth of Airstrip One (formerly called Great Britain), a province of the superstate Oceania. The job of the employees of the Ministry of Truth is to monitor the latest pronouncements of the government (built around the personality cult of “Big Brother”) and then to find any past evidence which contradicts the current truth. All past evidence must be destroyed, so that there is never any proof that the current version is not absolutely the truth.
In 2017, presidential spokeswoman Kellyanne Conway came up with the felicitous phrase “alternative facts” as the new Trump-speak for clearly fallacious statements, like the non-existent “Bowling Green Massacre.” Her meaning was clear. An “alternative fact” is a lie that the administration wants people to believe, and so will repeat it until it is “true.”
Yesterday President Trump spent an hour-and-a-half press conference mostly attacking the media which report anything at all negative about him, his administration, or his alternative facts. According to the AP writer, he bullied reporters, by name, and often interrupted before they could finish asking questions.
The press conference was astounding not just for the unbelievable opinions that his White House is a “finely tuned machine” and that “there has never been a presidency that has done so much in such a short period of time.” There were the usual bragging falsehoods. He referred to receiving 306 electoral votes, the largest since Ronald Reagan. When a reporter with access to instant fact-checking noted that he got 304 votes, which were fewer than Bush Senior’s , both of Bill Cinton’s, and both of Obama’s victories, Trump shut him down. The most frightening part of his open war on the free press was his suggestion that any negative coverage of his administration was “fake news.”
Let me state the obvious. Every President, and almost all politicians, lie at some point. The only politicians who don’t ever “lie” are dictators who never make a mistake, who know more than everyone else about everything, and who (like North Korean Kim Jong Un) bowl nine perfect 300 games in a row. Such people have a Ministry of Truth to wipe out any evidence that contradicts the current “truth.”
We have a president who can never admit he is wrong, even when confronted with evidence which are not alternative facts. To use men’s locker-room talk, “If you don’t have the cojones ever to admit you are wrong, you aren’t really a man.” To use political locker-room talk, “If you don’t have the cojones ever to admit you are wrong, you aren’t really a president, you are a wannabe Kim Jong Un in 1984.”