“Things are seldom what they seem,” the playful lyric in Gilbert & Sullivan’s “H.M.S. Pinafore,” could well be an anthem for the Trump White House.
The latest bit of Trump Troupe theater occurred on “Meet the Press” as host Chuck Todd interviewed the increasingly-hard-to-take-seriously Rudy Giuliani. Regarding the Russia investigation, Todd noted that President Trump should have nothing to fear by being honest. After all, Todd said off-handedly, “Truth is truth.”
“No, it isn’t truth!” Giuliani shot back. And then he soared past Kellyanne Conway on the Orwellian Hit Parade - where Conway has held the Number One spot for over a year with her classic ditty, “Alternative Facts.”
“Truth isn’t truth,” Giuliani crooned, placing himself atop the chart that includes golden oldies such as Bill Clinton’s “It depends upon what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.”
Trump holds several spots on the Top Ten list, including his remark to a gathering of veterans last month. “Just remember,” he said, “what you are seeing and what you are reading is not what’s happening.”
Thanks to the dedicated truth-seekers at The Washington Post we know that President Trump averages seven false or misleading claims per day. Perhaps he has trained himself, as George Costanza did on “Seinfeld.” In the world according to Costanza and Trump: “It’s not a lie if you believe it.”
Ah, yes, but as Albert Einstein pointed out: “Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters.” What about that?
Trump explained his position in “The Art of the Deal” by coining the term “truthful hyperbole.” He said that when lies are carefully crafted they become “an innocent form of exaggeration, and a very effective form of promotion.”
Is it any wonder that Giuliani and Trump’s other advisors are scared silly over the prospect of the president testifying under oath in the Mueller investigation? Giuliani, his foot always dangerously close to his mouth, says that Mueller would be setting up a “perjury trap” for Trump.
Such delightful light opera would do Gilbert & Sullivan proud. The President of the United States swears to tell the truth but is foiled when he can’t stop himself from lapsing into truthful hyperbole or alternative facts. He is thus forced to, as Hamlet put it, “Hoist with his own petard,” which is to say blow himself up.
But after all, what is truth? What are facts?
And, Kenneth, what is the frequency?
Peter Funt is a writer and speaker.