Truth or no con­se­quences

Annapolis Valley Register - - OPINION -

Many eyes were on U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump this week, when he was speak­ing to the United Na­tions Gen­eral As­sem­bly. It’s his first such speech, and was ex­pected to be in­ter­est­ing to see who showed up: the more-mod­er­ate ver­sion of Pres­i­dent Trump who sticks to the notes oth­ers have writ­ten, or the off-the-cuff, an­gry leader who loves air­ing old grievances.

But what­ever you think of his Jekyll and Hyde ap­pear­ances, it’s worth tak­ing a minute or two to lis­ten to some­one else: Sean Spicer, who was turfed as the White House spokesman.

Spicer, you may re­mem­ber, came out of the blocks quick and nasty, ar­gu­ing with the me­dia that Trump’s in­au­gu­ra­tion was at­tended by more peo­ple than Barack Obama’s had been — a claim that was bla­tantly false.

Spicer ap­peared on the Em­mys last week­end, and has been sur­fac­ing on broad­casts like Jimmy Kim­mel Live.

Now, maybe it speaks vol­umes about the cu­ri­ous cult of celebrity that is the United that Spicer is on the en­ter­tain­ment cir­cuit.

But think about what Spicer says now about de­fend­ing ob­vi­ously fake state­ments about the in­au­gu­ra­tion num­bers.

“Your job as press sec­re­tary is to rep­re­sent the pres­i­dent’s voice and to make sure you’re ar­tic­u­lat­ing what he be­lieves his vi­sion is on pol­icy, on is­sues, and other ar­eas that he wants to ar­tic­u­late,” Spicer said to Kim­mel. “Whether or not you agree or not isn’t your job — your job is to give him ad­vice, which is what we would do on a va­ri­ety of is­sues all the time.

“He would al­ways lis­ten to that ad­vice, but ul­ti­mately, he’s the pres­i­dent, and he would say ‘I agree with you’ some­times, or ‘That’s a good point, in­cor­po­rate it,’ or some­times he would say, de­pend­ing on the is­sue, ‘Look, I know what I be­lieve, and this is what I think the right thing to do is.’”

That’s where Kim­mel got in a quick jab: “And then you have to march out there and go, ‘Yeah, he had a big­ger crowd, ev­ery­body!’”

Spicer’s re­sponse? “As I said, he’s the pres­i­dent; he de­cides.”

Think, then, about what that means: the be­lief of one man, in this case, a U.S. pres­i­dent, trumps any demon­stra­ble fact. Even when that be­lief is clearly proven wrong, min­ions will con­tinue to ar­gue that the sky isn’t blue or wa­ter isn’t wet, sim­ply be­cause the per­son who pays the bills has de­creed it so.

The stakes on who did or didn’t have the larger in­au­gu­ra­tion are re­mark­able small — in fact, the only per­son who still cares about it is Pres­i­dent Trump him­self. (And who knows? He may raise it, along with sim­i­larly false claims about win­ning the pop­u­lar vote — which he didn’t — at the UN to­day.)

But here’s the ques­tion: what if the stakes are higher?

Will the U.S. pres­i­dent and his staff bother with the truth?

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