It’s Not a Lie If You Believe It

It's Not a Lie If You Believe It

I hesitated to draw this one because not everybody may know the George Costanza character from the 1990s sitcom Seinfeld. But the odds against that are pretty good — Seinfeld was one of the last TV shows that everybody watched, it has been in constant reruns since, and of course its catch-phrases live on forever in memes (“No soup for you!”).

All you really need to know is that the Jerry Seinfeld character comes to his friend George — who has “the gift” of being able to lie without conscience — to find out how to beat a polygraph test. At first George demurs, “I can’t help you. It’s like saying to Pavaratti, ‘Teach me to sing like you.'” But as Jerry gets up to leave, George offers him the advice I drew in the cartoon.

I take no pleasure in equating the President of the United States with a congenital liar. There is no fun here at all. With George, his lies eventually unravel and in spectacular fashion, and that is funny. The same unraveling will eventually happen with Trump, but there is a whole country, a whole world, that will pay the consequences. That’s not funny.

Yes, all politicians lie, just as all people do (except for the very young and the very pure). But the difference with Trump is twofold:

A matter of scale: By April this year the Fact Checker at the Washington Post had tallied 10,000 false or misleading claims by Trump during his presidency. And the man had a well-established pattern before being elected.

And a matter of audacity: After his rally in North Carolina where his supporters chanted, “Send her back!” there were some negative reviews, what with the racism and all. So the next day Trump unabashedly claimed he was “not happy” with it and had tried to stop it by “starting speaking very quickly.” No. No he didn’t. He absolutely didn’t. He stood there for 13 seconds and basked. Millions saw it live. Many more saw the recording.

I can only imagine his excuse. “Should I have not done that? Was that wrong? Because if anybody had said anything to me when I first started…” Seinfeld fans know how that bit ended.

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