“The truest characters of ignorance are vanity and pride and arrogance.”
—Samuel Butler, British poet (1613 – 1680)
President Trump’s obsession about his popularity manifested itself in a shocking display of outright lies to protect his vanity. His contention that the media were lying about the number of people at his inauguration reinforces what we already know about the man: vain, egotistical, narcissistic, and very thin-skinned.
What was sad to watch is his press secretary, Sean Spicer, gather the media on a Saturday evening to confront them about the inauguration numbers. He presented aerial photos of the Mall that he claimed were cherry picked if not doctored to make President Trump look bad. He claimed the numbers were much higher than reported.
The numbers reported by the D.C. Metro and the U.S. Park Service were accurate.
Spicer lied to the press and knew it. Which means, as Trump’s representative, that Trump was lying to the American people and knew it. All politicians lie, but usually about graver topics. This lie was petty and transparent.
I am sure Mr. Spicer is a nice fellow, but knuckling under to his boss to lie for him to keep his job says something about his, and Mr. Trump’s, moral character. What trust Trump may have with the press has been squandered.
These are things that candidate Trump and businessman Trump thought he could get away with, but with the presidential crown resting on his bouffant head, he will find that is not possible. An already skeptical, if not antagonistic, press will not treat him well, and their continued digging into his business and personal life will at some point yield gold. The Fourth Estate has brought down politicians before and they would love to do so with Trump.
We are witnessing a sad phenomenon in American political history. Brash businessman Trump who became brash candidate Trump is now brash President Trump. Those hoping for dignity and gravitas to assert itself hope in vain. What you see is what you get.
As my favorite American curmudgeon, H. L. Mencken said about presidential elections,
As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.