Categories
Commentary Uncategorized

At Least Choose Better Lies

For a guy whose obsession with “the best” and “the greatest,” President Donald Trump demonstrates a shockingly poor sense of selectivity when it comes to bald-faced lies. It would be easy to dismiss his behavior as compulsive or reactionary, off-the-cuff denials and distractions wrought by an egocentric blowhard, but this latest in a long line of flamboyant humdingers is no spontaneous misrepresentation, no middle-of-the-night twitter ejaculation.

When White House Spokesman Sean Spicer strutted to the podium and proceeded to not only angrily insist on a string of easily debunked untruths, but to lash at the media for fairly and accurately reporting facts, we witnessed a step towards Orwellian newspeak which, frankly, surprised even a cynical old bastard like me for its venom as well as its brazenness. I’d be impressed, if it wasn’t so insulting.

http://money.cnn.com/2017/01/21/media/sean-spicer-press-secretary-statement/index.html?sr=twCNN012117ean-spicer-press-secretary-statement%2Findex.html1126PMStoryLink&linkId=33646406

The question of the moment is: why lie about this?  Of all things, why, with so many witnesses, and so much documented video, so many images, choose this issue to squander the Trump  adopt the angry defense of a blatantly and easily debunked untruth? It is troubling to consider what else they might lie about, when they cling so tenaciously to something so small and petty.

A few pundits have speculated that these responses–doubling down on obvious lies–is part of a calculated strategy to systematically undermine non-partisan journalism in America, so that when Trump and his band of flying monkeys wreak truly horrible and heinous acts upon our nation the seed of skepticism has been thickly sewn, at least among his unquestioning followers. My college-age daughter observed that her twitter feed was aflame with accusations of media duplicity regarding the inaugural crowds, not to mention a throbbing anger at the audacity of the Women’s March on Washington. Her followers, a notoriously non-selective cross section of former classmates, athletic competitors, acquaintances and friends of friends collection that, by definition, amounts to a pretty broad cross-section of America, with a slightly Trumpish tilt (we live in The Thunderdome, after all), but the gullibility and/or headstrong denial in those voices is chilling. By extension, the “undermine the media” motive must be considered.

Perhaps I’m naive? I don’t believe in vast conspiracies. Small secrets on a broad scale are common enough, but the idea that a group as broad, independent, and accomplishment-driven as “the mainstream media” could perpetuate a vast conspiracy against any public figure is just absurd. These people, after all, are driven by the goal of out-truthing each other. It is an industry defined by “scoops” and it would take just a single reporter to blow the entire deal. The greater point of this argument is that Trump is so incapable of introspection that he cannot see how his own behavior is rallying the media against him, and so paranoid that he thinks conspiracy lurks around every corner. And we won’t mention the old maxim my grandmother taught me about pots calling kettles black–Trump sees duplicity because he bathes in the stuff.

Ultimately, I suspect that what is truly at work here is nothing more than externally-enabled full-blown narcissism. It is so important to Trump that he be the biggest and the greatest and best-est and the most-est that he has no reservations about sending his mouthpieces into the glare of the spotlights with simple instructions: lie! He wouldn’t be the first. The Neo-Conservative movement at its heyday was famous for the mantra of eschewing “reality-based politics,” a stratagem that advocates should talk about the world as they want it to be, not as it actually was. In short, tell the lie and deny the truth long enough and eventually the lie becomes the truth.

It is a powerful and effective tool. Minds are malleable, and Trump knows this. What will matter, in the end, is whether or not the frustration of those who are opposed to Trump becomes stronger than the dogged determination of his supporters, enablers, and lackeys to swallow whatever buffalo patties he drops in our way. And what of his credibility, and that of our nation as a whole. Allies and adversaries alike are watching and will judge him accordingly. His behavior–whether today’s senseless and petty lies, or his history of broken contracts, bullying, and strategic manipulation demonstrated as an unscrupulous real estate developer, will color treaties and deals and all comers fully understand that this is a man whose word means nothing.

 

Categories
Commentary

I Don’t Care. I’m With Hope.

070515_HS5

Lots of schadenfreude in the op ed pages and comment sections since Hope Solo, bitter and disappointed in Team USA’s unexpected loss to Sweden in the Olympics, stepped in it on the world stage. Facing the athletically superior Americans, Sweden used a strategy of slow down and keep-away to maintain a slim lead, and hung on to win. After the game, Solo, the American goalkeeper, frustrated and heartbroken, lashed out, calling the Swedes “a bunch of cowards” for their tactical unwillingness to engage the Americans straight up.

To be clear, Solo shouldn’t have done that. It not only reflected poorly on her and on the team, but it gave the Sweden’s snarky coach (who once upon a time coached the American team, and knew them well) on opportunity to gloat.

The recriminations against the larger-than-life Solo, who has been no stranger to controversy, were as swift and merciless as they were gleeful. Writing in the Washington Post, columnist Sally Jenkins wrote against Solo as if gunning for some sort of personal retribution, her petty screed so tangible I swear I could see the ink running where here spittle-flying assault speckled the text. I had no idea so many people hated a woman who has, by her own admissions, has had some troubled moments and suffered from some serious lapses in judgement off the field, while possibly being the all-time best American to ever play.

1403569008000-2014-06-23-Hope-Solo

Today, it was reported that Solo has had her contract cancelled as well as receiving a 6-month suspension from the national team. I expected Solo to face discipline, but I’m not sure that stripping one the great athletes of her generation of her livelihood in the waning years of her career is commensurate to her transgression.

The thing that I keep coming back to is that Solo’s remarks–and once again I’ll tell you that she was wrong to make them–were made in the moments following a devastating and unexpected loss. I couldn’t help but think of the press pillorying Cam Newton after the most recent Super Bowl when the player seemed withdrawn and unemotional after his gut-wrenching loss. I thought at the time: do you  want the guy who seems utterly destroyed by a super bowl loss on your team, or the guy who is glibly yakking it up with the media, smiling and barking “we’ll get ’em next year” platitudes? I’ll take the destroyed guy every time, the guy who is aching.

It is no different with Hope Solo. I want the players who are broken up or, yes, mad as hell, about losing. I don’t want sheep. I want lions, and whatever Hope Solo may be she is, first and foremost, a lion.

Categories
Commentary Narrative/Journal

Ali. Now There Was A Man.

When I was a kid, Muhammad Ali was a ubiquitous media figure, whether he was fighting or being interviewed or selling cologne on the television. I missed the early years of his ds_24ali353_20120724220624672219-300x0career, and only learned about the political aspects of his fame much later. (a link to a fantastic article on Ali follows my post).  As I encountered him, he was just one of the pantheon, a star of stars. Race, religion, and politics never entered into the equation any more than they did when I thought of my other childhood heroes: Willie Stargell, Mean Joe Green, and Mr. Rogers. I never realized until later just how bright Ali shined, the star among stars.  Like many of my generation, we looked back on Ali with new interest long after he’d faded from public view, after he returned to the world stage at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, his trembling arm raised to alilight the Olympic flame, a man refusing to be bowed by age or the horribly ironic Parkinson’s that clawed at his body. I’ll never forget sitting in a restaurant near Wilson, Wyoming, drinking beer and eating pizza with friends, watching The Greatest ascend to light the torch, my eyes moist with respect and admiration. I cannot think of a person more deserving of the title, American Hero. He surely was that–as flawed as the rest of us, but possessed of a drive and determination that not only made him literally the greatest fighter of all time, but which drove him to risk everything for his beliefs, even when that meant potentially losing his career as well as his freedom. It is rare for us to see men who even come close to Ali’s stature. More is the pity.

http://www.sport-magazine.co.uk/features/muhammad-misunderstood

Categories
Commentary Quote

Wednesday Words of Wisdom: Muhammad Ali

muhammad-ali-punch-01.jpegI could populate a year’s worth of these posts, one every day, with Ali quotes, but I’ve long thought that this one bears much of the essence of The Greatest as well as suggesting a path–perhaps the best path–to our own confident success. Did  Ali say he was the greatest because he was, or did he become the greatest because he said he was, and believed it?

I figured that if I said it enough, I would convince the world that I really was the greatest.  –Muhammad Ali

Categories
Commentary Photo I Like

We’ll Miss You, Coach

Not a lot of dry eyes in Steeler Nation this weekend.  Here’s a fond farewell to the greatest football coach in the history of the game, Chuck Noll.  Huzzah!

Chuck

 

 

 

 

Lombardi