Live By the Lie

Photograph by Nathaniel St. Clair

Donald Trump is a mean, venal, dishonest and greedy man who threatens, insults and intimidates people to achieve his singular life goal of self-enrichment. In his own words at a 2016 campaign event: “My whole life I’ve been greedy, greedy, greedy. I’ve grabbed all the money I could get.” And to grab “all the money” he has trampled on the law, filed phony financial statements and borrowed laundered money from foreign banks since domestic ones wouldn’t back him.

As president, he has continued to enrich himself and viciously attack anyone who challenges his right to use the highest office in the nation in the most disgusting ways. But now, with impeachment staring him in his bloated face, “what goes around, comes around” — and those he has insulted and intimidated have exactly zero reasons to grant him even a shred of mercy.

As noted by the Washington Post’s Fact Checkers, Trump has told more than 12,000 lies, distortions and misrepresentations during his stint in office. For him, lying is like breathing — something you do regularly without a shred of guilt. But as most people know, the more you lie the more you have to remember to whom you lied and what lies you told. As most of us know, “honesty is the best policy” because if you can’t trust what people are telling you, there’s no way to parse truth from lies and hence, no way to make an informed judgment on any given issue or matter.

And so it goes that the truth in old sayings once again finds itself applicable to our lives and the future of our nation. We now know that President Trump basically used hundreds of millions of dollars of congressionally approved appropriations to provide military aid to Ukraine as leverage to seek help in smearing Joe Biden, despite the fact that the Ukraine’s own investigators had already denied any wrongdoing by Biden.

Moreover, Trump put it this way: “I would like you to do us a favor, though” when discussing the funds with the newly elected president of Ukraine. The “favor” was clear enough — find dirt on his political opponent Biden. But what rankles is the use of the word “us.” Who is “us”? This is the president of the United States, who claimed because the Danish prime minister called his offer to buy Greenland “absurd” that she was insulting the United States. As Trump told reporters in August, “She shouldn’t treat the United States that way. … She said ‘absurd.’ That’s not the right word to use.”

But let’s get one thing perfectly clear here — Donald Trump is not the United States. In fact, he’s an embarrassment to the United States and the Office of the President and it gets worse every day.

And now, hopefully, Congress will impeach the serial liar in the Oval Office who not only used taxpayer money as a bribe to gain political dirt on a rival, he then buried the tape of his conversation in a top-secret computer to “lock down” the truth.

The truth, however, will not be “locked down” as the scandal widens.

The rats are already jumping off Trump’s sinking ship. As is well known, self-preservation is a foundational trait of politicians who blow in the winds of political expediency. And for those such as Montana’s U.S. Congressman Greg Gianforte and U.S. Sen. Steve Daines who have long ridden Trump’s lie-filled train and enabled the denigration of the Office of the President, there’s some bad news — the bridge is out ahead and no amount of lies, threats or insults will restore it.

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George Ochenski is a columnist for the Missoulian, where this essay originally appeared.

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