Trump has the rare skill of be­liev­ing his own lies

San Francisco Chronicle - - BAY AREA - By Wil­lie Brown

Pres­i­dent Trump has a tal­ent that many peo­ple would love to pos­sess: the abil­ity to edit an out­ra­geous ac­tion out of one’s mem­ory and be­lieve it never hap­pened.

That’s a laud­able trait for, say, a re­lief pitcher who coughs up a home run. But it’s a scary trait in the sup­posed leader of the free world, at least when he uses it to spin the most racist of state­ments into a he-said-she-said dis­pute. But that’s who he is, and that’s where we are. Trump isn’t the first politi­cian to say some­thing out­landish be­hind closed doors. Politi­cians are hu­man be­ings, some with only lim­ited men­tal ca­pac­i­ties. When they get into a heated ex­change, they some­times cross the line.

It rarely be­comes pub­lic. When it does, they first try to ex­plain their way around it. If that doesn’t work, they try to spin the in­ter­pre­ta­tion. And then, if all else fails, they just give up and ask for for­give­ness.

Trump, how­ever, does not have the for­give­ness gene. He can only in­sist or deny un­til we get worn down and move on to the next out­rage.

The irony in Trump’s nakedly racist com­ment about peo­ple from Haiti and Africa is that he may well have been on the verge of an im­mi­gra­tion vic­tory when he shot his mouth off. He might even have man­aged to get fund­ing for the wall in re­turn for al­low­ing the “Dream­ers” to stay in this coun­try, some­thing he would like to take credit for as well.

In­stead, he has re­porters shout­ing ques­tions at him about whether he con­sid­ers him­self to be a racist. That’s a scene none of us is likely to for­get.

A real hero: We said good­bye to a real trail­blazer last week when we laid for­mer Cal­i­for­nia Sec­re­tary of State March Fong Eu to rest in Oak­land.

In 1974, Fong Eu was the first Asian Amer­i­can in the U.S. to be elected to a state con­sti­tu­tional of­fice. Be­fore that, she was with me in the As­sem­bly, where one of her first causes was to abol­ish pay-toi­let stalls for women. Hard to be­lieve, but back in the ’60s men’s rooms were free, while women usu­ally had to pay a dime to use a toi­let.

An­other re­minder of what women have been through.

My fa­vorite mem­ory of March was back in 1974, when I first ran for As­sem­bly speaker. My then-room­mate in Sacra­mento, Leon Ralph, was sup­posed to put my name in nom­i­na­tion when the Demo­cratic cau­cus met.

What I didn’t know was that Leon had cut a deal with my ri­val, Leo Mc­Carthy of San Fran­cisco, to get a com­mit­tee chair­man­ship in re­turn for dou­ble-cross­ing me.

When the nom­i­na­tions opened, Leon just sat there. March, who was sit­ting be­hind him, in­stantly re­al­ized he had sold me out and start­ing beat­ing him over the head with her purse and yelling, “You ly­ing bas­tard!”

I lost the elec­tion. But the mem­ory of see­ing March in ac­tion was al­most worth it.

Ba­sic black: I heard it through the grapevine: Demo­cratic women in Congress will take a cue from Oprah Win­frey and her #MeToo col­leagues in the Golden Globes crowd, and wear black to Pres­i­dent Trump’s State of the Union ad­dress Jan. 30.

Movie time: You have got to see “The Post,” the story of how the Washington Post did bat­tle with Pres­i­dent Richard Nixon to pub­lish the Pen­tagon Pa­pers. It was a pow­er­ful mo­ment for free­dom of the press in this coun­try, but for me, the movie is also about the birth of the women’s move­ment.

Post pub­lisher Katharine Gra­ham, played by Meryl Streep, found her­self in charge when her hus­band died. Her treat­ment by the men of the time and me­dia, which ig­nored her, is a great re­minder of the his­tory be­hind today’s #MeToo move­ment.

Pres­i­dent Oprah?

Don’t laugh. Oprah Win­frey mak­ing a bid for the White House is not as out-of-this-world as you may think.

We’ve en­tered an age when celebri­ties have in­her­ited the cred­i­bil­ity that politi­cians have lost. Peo­ple have wel­comed Oprah into their homes for years, fig­u­ra­tively speak­ing. She comes off as sane. These days, that counts for a lot.

Plus, you can’t help but love some­one who for years has given away ev­ery­thing from cars to re­frig­er­a­tors to peo­ple in need. And with her read­ing list, she has helped sell books by de­serv­ing au­thors to peo­ple all across Amer­ica.

A skill like that is guar­an­teed to win votes.

Jim Wat­son/ AFP / Getty Im­ages

Pres­i­dent Trump, un­like many politi­cians who cross a line, re­fuses to ad­mit that he has done it.

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