Trump’s lovely lies

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - OPINION - Kath­leen Parker Colum­nist Kath­leen Parker’s email ad­dress is kath­leen­parker@ wash­post.com.

In this sea­son of Thanks­giv­ing, a quirky source of grat­i­tude has emerged -- Don­ald Trump’s many cam­paign lies.

What else can one call the prom­ises that he now treats as alien con­cepts? Al­most daily, he re­verses him­self on a cam­paign prom­ise, con­firm­ing what this col­umn pre­dicted: He would never keep his vows.

As a mat­ter of prac­ti­cal­ity, Trump couldn’t do much of what he bragged about, such as build the wall and make Mex­ico pay for it. Now he’s talk­ing fences.

Like­wise, it isn’t the pre­rog­a­tive of the ex­ec­u­tive of­fice to in­ves­ti­gate, pros­e­cute or jail Hil­lary Clin­ton, whom he now says he doesn’t plan to in­ves­ti­gate be­cause he doesn’t want to hurt the Clin­tons.

Sim­i­larly, Trump ap­par­ently no longer thinks that cli­mate change is a Chi­nese hoax and is “open-minded” to­ward fu­ture dis­cus­sions. When Marine Gen. James Mat­tis, Trump’s ap­par­ent choice for de­fense sec­re­tary, told the pres­i­den­t­elect that he could get more in­for­ma­tion from a pris­oner with a cou­ple of beers and a cig­a­rette than by wa­ter­board­ing, Trump said, fine, he will re­think wa­ter­board­ing.

If Trump has never been bur­dened by the truth, he at least has been true to his core value, which is say or do what­ever it takes to win. And for him, what worked were lies. Or at least un­truths.

What does seem true is that he never had any in­ter­est in gov­ern­ing, as ev­i­denced by his re­port­edly be­ing sur­prised to learn he had to re­place so many White House staffers. Who knew?

Early on, Trump told us as much when he couldn’t re­ally put a fin­ger on why he wanted to be pres­i­dent. In a widerang­ing in­ter­view last April with The Wash­ing­ton Post’s Bob Wood­ward and Robert Costa, he wan­dered around the barn for sev­eral min­utes look­ing for an an­swer, check­ing the sky for the Trump chop­per to swoop down in a re­verse deus ex machina to res­cue him from this daunt­ing ques­tion: “Can you iso­late a mo­ment when it kicked to yes?”

Not right off, no, he couldn’t.

First, it was the es­ca­la­tor ride, look­ing down on all those cam­eras, com­par­ing the mo­ment to the Acad­emy Awards. Had the cam­eras not ar­rived, would Trump have re­turned to his of­fice and for­got­ten all about it? Next, he talked about his TV show, his money, his chil­dren, hit­ting any topic that came to mind, cir­cling, cir­cling, search­ing for that dadgum mo­ment. Wood­ward pressed on.

The polls, yes, it was the polls! Oh, also, watch­ing Mitt Rom­ney, “a very, very, failed and flawed can­di­date,” lose to Obama. Af­ter a mind-bog­gling dis­cus­sion about break­ing eggs to get elected, Trump landed on anger. Yes, he was an­gry. Plus, he al­ways wins.

In Trump’s ex­haust­ing, at­ten­tion-deficit world, win­ning is the end point, mak­ing this par­tic­u­lar vic­tory prob­lem­at­i­cal. Af­ter the “Grand Open­ing” on Inau­gu­ra­tion Day, the bands, con­fetti and the In­au­gu­ral Pa­rade, what fol­lows is much less fun — gov­ern­ing a fiercely di­vided na­tion that Trump helped cre­ate and mak­ing good on all those cam­paign slo­gans.

Go­ing for­ward, ev­ery­thing is any­one’s guess. As his base be­gins to show cracks, won­der­ing what to do with their “Lock her up” T-shirts, his foes are wrestling a fresh angst — caught be­tween de­test­ing the man who spoke so foully of oth­ers and stupidly of is­sues, and the one who didn’t re­ally mean it. A ra­tio­nal, de­cent Trump is not the man Amer­ica elected and both sides, for better or worse, feel jinxed. How does one re­vile the man who now says what you be­lieve? How does one trust the man who ob­vi­ously lied?

Fi­nally: Who is the real Don­ald Trump and what does he stand for?

That re­mains the ques­tion.

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