If you read only the mainstream media, you might believe that almost every word out of President Donald Trump’s mouth is a lie. But far from being a lying dog-faced pony soldier, he may be the most honest president to have ever served in the White House.
If you think this claim is a pile of pony manure, consider an alternative. Think about when a person compliments a dinner host on their food: “It’s the best steak I’ve ever tasted.” A more accurate statement would probably be: “It’s the best steak I’ve had in a long time.” The first statement is directionally and sentimentally true but exaggerated. That’s called hyperbole.
Like any good salesman, Trump uses this technique extensively. He might say that it’s the best economy ever, but the fact-checkers call it a lie because there was that two-week period in 1957 that was better on specific parameters. He might say that prescription drugs are getting cheaper, but the critics dismiss it because brand name drugs increased in price.
If you count every time that Trump uses hyperbole as a lie, he sure is a liar. If, however, you see them as minor deviations from a generally true statement, most of his lies vanish.
What about the outlandish claim that Trump might be the most honest president in U.S. history? That was hyperbole, of course, in the most Trumpian style.
The truth is that Trump is remarkably honest in areas that count. He promised to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership – this became one of his first actions as president. He vowed to remove harmful regulations, renegotiate NAFTA, and bring back jobs. He did. He promised to build the wall and make Mexico pay for it; despite massive resistance from the Democrats and many Republicans, he has managed to build 100 miles of the border wall and convince Mexico to curb illegal immigration with threats of tariffs. Like his recent predecessors, Trump promised to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Everyone expected this to be a typical politician lie – as it had been for the last several administrations – but he did it.
Trump is far more truthful on Twitter than many people can stomach. To the chagrin of his critics and many of his voters, the president gives his unfiltered opinion about people and a range of topics. Recently, for instance, he was honest regarding what he felt about the prison sentence of loudmouth Roger Stone.
It is no exaggeration to say that Trump is the most transparent president in U.S. history. He is far more accessible to the press than those who came before and communicates directly with the American people through Twitter on a daily basis.
Hyperbole as a Weapon
While Trump primarily uses hyperbole to generate excitement, unity, and optimism, he also notably wields it as a weapon in self-defense when he is attacked. How did he respond when media pundits called him mentally unstable and near-illiterate? He claimed he was “a very stable genius.” This moved the conversation towards discussing whether he is a genius or not, which benefits Trump.
When Hillary Clinton introduced the concept of fake news to the world when she outlined the Russian collusion hoax during the 2016 presidential election, Trump immediately snatched it away from her and projected it back on the mainstream media. Today, Trump owns that term. Who remembers that it started as a Clintonian conspiracy theory?
Former Senator Hiram Johnson (R-CA) is remembered for saying that “the first casualty when war comes is truth.” America is in what could be described as a cold civil war. Future historians may record the Trump era as one in which the so-called free press became one of the most blatant vehicles of propaganda in U.S. history. This is the context by which one must judge Trump’s hyperbole. By that standard, he comes out as remarkably honest.
Read more from Onar Åm.
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