The difference between Hillary’s lies and Trump’s lies

No matter where I go, I hear the same refrain: I don’t know how we got into this mess. And by “this mess,” people of course mean the reality that one of two widely despised people will be the next president. This week alone, I’ve heard it from neighbors, friends, relatives, a group of senior citizens to whom I spoke, and my tablemates at a Boy Scout banquet I attended. And it’s only Friday morning — two and a half days to go.

Political scientists will spend decades dissecting this year’s presidential election, from the primaries through November, but that doesn’t mean we can’t start trying now to understand what exactly is hitting us. For example, why are we in a situation where one of two habitual liars will be entrusted with representing our country abroad, with negotiating trade pacts and treaties with allies and enemies alike, with addressing the nation in times of crisis?

One of the most interesting takes on this problem that I’ve seen was published this week by the Washington Post. Barton Swaim, a former speechwriter for disgraced governor and current U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford of South Carolina, puts his finger on a difference between Hillary Clinton’s lies and Donald Trump’s:

“(Clinton) is a cagey politician who isn’t above the use of half-truths and weaselly word-level justifications to further her political ends. But for her, the truth is always there, even if it’s something to avoid facing or dance around or ignore altogether.

“Donald Trump is our first full-on ‘postmodern’ presidential candidate. Truth, for him, isn’t some unseen objective entity a responsible politician should refrain from crossing. If there is such a thing, ‘truth’ is only rhetorical or rooted in perspective. The only important ‘truth’ in Trump’s worldview is that the nation’s ruling elite consists largely of incompetents, racketeers and hacks, and they have not yet been moved aside and replaced with Donald J. Trump. Whatever he says in the service of that manifestly noble aim isn’t just excusable but good and right. Negotiating the perils of objective truth has nothing to do with it.”

Hillary Rodham Clinton

Don’t get hung up on the terminology of “modern” and “postmodern.” The first point here is this: Clinton lies to avoid the problems the truth presents to her. Trump lies because the truth is not just inconvenient to him, but meaningless and even irrelevant. These are different things, with different consequences.

The consequences of Clinton’s type of lies are well-known: Some politicians will lie to gain power, lie about abuses of power, and lie to cover up their ill-gotten rewards from the power they wield. These are despicable actions, and they have greatly contributed to our deep collective skepticism of our institutions and government. But they are reversible: The solution is to elect people who are honest, who will refrain from corruption, and who will clear out the rot of our institutions. Easier said than done, of course, but not patently impossible.

GOP 2016 Debate

Trump’s lies, on the other hand, are different. He rejects the idea that honesty as humans have always conceived of it is even possible. He dismisses the potential for corrupt institutions to be cleared of their corruption — except, naturally, with his election. His credentials for doing this, though, are questionable at best, because he doesn’t even accept the truth about his own life. He will tell you whatever he needs to tell you — that he opposed the Iraq war, when he was on the record saying otherwise, to name just one example — to proclaim himself a change agent and, most absurdly, a truth-teller.

All of this has its own, deeply corrupting effect on our institutions, right down to our elections. When Trump suggests the only way he would lose the election is if it is rigged, not because he has no experience and has spent no time thinking about our nation’s problems and has gone out of his way to insult as many segments of the electorate as possible, he is encouraging people to believe election results can never be trusted. Which in the end makes it impossible to fix the kind of problems presented by more typical liars, such as Clinton.

But here’s the kicker: As Swaim correctly notes, the people who first and most effectively laid the groundwork for a politician like Trump are not conservatives sharing bogus “news” articles on Facebook:

“For two generations or more, American liberals have cheered postmodern attitudes in art, literature, music and philosophy. Now it has entered politics, and it’s time to panic.”

Moral relativism didn’t originate on the right. The idea of truth as a malleable product of one’s personal upbringing and perspectives isn’t a conservative one. On the contrary, it is the left that has been pushing us to “progress” in this direction.

It will not be a good thing if liberals’ long-term deconstruction of the notion of objective truth prevails in the political arena. But it will be pretty ironic.

Reader Comments 0

367 comments
Dwayne McMillen
Dwayne McMillen

So much hate from BI...and the people who support Clinton...we might be close to a war in this country...

Susan Smith
Susan Smith

First time I have ever had newspapers out right choose a side in an election, NYT, Wash. Post, USA Today. They are not supporting democracy, the peoples vote. They should report the facts, let us choice. Yes, their is a scale, one breaks the law in front of the FBI, the other is just a loud mouth not stating facts. Both horrible trust ratings, one is a criminal before even getting into office.

Pickle7
Pickle7

Your thesis that "abstraction in art" and "absurdist fiction in literature" are equatable to the "long-term deconstruction of the notion of objective truth" is silly at best.


There are much more relevant deviations from "the truth" that we can point to allowing for Trump's rise including:  climate change denial, unwavering belief in the efficacy of trickle-down economics and the 'Us vs. Them' brand of conservative "patriotism", where Us = white straight Christians and Them = everyone else.  The conspiracy theorists on infowars and Breitbart now make up a significant portion of the base of the Republican party.  Do comparable peddlers of half-truths and all-out falsehoods exist on the Left?  Hardly.

lvg
lvg

@Pickle7 Say it in plain English- Trump is an all time  BS artist who doesn't care if he is telling the truth, lying or just making sh-t up.

Gregory Allen Ramsey
Gregory Allen Ramsey

any fool that thinks it's a difference in your presidential candidates lying to you deserve either one of these fools!! What an election went from hating the black guy to picking the person the smallest liar. Great job America at keeping the standard so low

Mark A. Walker
Mark A. Walker

Lies or no lies. GET OUT AND VOTE! Because if you don't vote, then that's the same as lying. (y)

Beverly L. Helton
Beverly L. Helton

“He is a demagogue, who seems to appeal to the lowest common denominator.”

Will Dou Jones Boswell
Will Dou Jones Boswell

The difference is one is a politician and other one is a reality TV star. Being a reality TV, he hasn't had enough power to effect most Americans.

Jason King
Jason King

The main difference between Clintons lies and Trumps lies is that while she lied she collected a check from the taxpayers which is egregious.. Trumps lies are the same as any private citizen ... now both are terrible but Clintons actually hurt our national security and Trump awww he just looks bad. Hmmmmm \U0001f914

Jason King
Jason King

James Minor She more than looks bad she was on the taxpayers dime messing up.

Richard Champey
Richard Champey

Mr. Wingfield is playing the same MSM game as all the others in writing vociferously about inconsequential topics that do not give the electorate any meaningful information. How about telling us the candidates actual plan for moving the US to a higher level of performance rather than the distractions the democrats playbook calls for. Hillary has thrown everything she can dig up to put Trump on the defensive to cover her lack of willingness to clearly and completely tell us her real plan for the county. The Democrats are using the old playbook and cannot understand Trumps playbook-therefore they are terrified!!! As a "conservative writer" try to get more needed information for the voter in your work!!! How about writing about he VOTER FRAUD that is being discovered in many states right now!! Do you think that is important??? The Democrats say that is not significant. IS IT????

Dan Marinca
Dan Marinca

let ms just say this someday a,superman called God will hit rewind on everyone s story than he will make a decision . i don t know what that decision will be 4 u and me , but i know it will not be guilty or not , it will be go to my right or to my left . i am afraid for mAny lawyers especially american lawyers the left will be their passport to an eternity in hell , they have created the worst and most complex legal system in the world and the worst correctional facilities in the world also.

Don S. Rowley
Don S. Rowley

He's protected by cops and armed forces paid for by our tax dollars. He travels on roads, bridges and uses airports paid for with our tax dollars. Then he has the gall to turn around and say just how awful our roads, bridges, tunnels, airports and the treatment facilities for our vets are. Sounds like a "genius move" for a guy who doesn't pay taxes.

Don Emory
Don Emory

Property taxes pay for roads and bridges on state and local levels and he pays millions in property taxes all over the country \U0001f604

Michael Mancini
Michael Mancini

A real candidate would smoke Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump like a cheap Blunt.

Elaine Mattson
Elaine Mattson

Wingfield never met a conservative he didn't adore.

Kerry Hill
Kerry Hill

Please hurry up with this election this is the most disgusting election I have ever seen in my life but I can say it is revealing a lot of people to me

Kerry Hill
Kerry Hill

Trump is one of those liars that every time you see him you want to just punch him in his face.

Karen Bagwell Kitchens
Karen Bagwell Kitchens

All Americans who love Liberty, owe it to themselves to read this article, so they will know what we are facing.....David Brock, in his 1996 biography, ‘The Seduction of Hillary Rodham,’ called Hillary ‘Alinsky's daughter.’ That is an apt label,” he continues. “Where Alinsky tactics are used now on both sides to confuse and agitate, Hillary is poised to become the supreme leader with all the power and tools of our monstrous government at her fingertips.” Donald Trump’s rhetoric may have pushed some Christians toward Hillary Clinton, but perhaps an honest and sober look at her inspiration will push them back. - See more at: https://www.conservativereview.com/commentary/2016/10/hillary-clinton-is-a-wolf-in-sheeps-clothing-just-like-her-mentor#sthash.nmSOHNN2.dpuf

Al Effendi
Al Effendi

Of course this brings out the tinfoil hat brigade.

Deb Varco
Deb Varco

Are you kidding me? I agreed with this column until the last sentences when this hack blamed Trump on Liberals.

David Rahn
David Rahn

Hint: the AJC is a grotesquely biased media source.

curt49
curt49

Trumps lies involving cheating others out of their hard earned money with non-payment and  condo scams and in at Trump U he stole their money and their dreams. Not to mention the people he stiffed in his many bankruptcies. Donald Trump is just a two bit crook. The contrived garbage about Hillary does not compare. ?

Infraredguy
Infraredguy

Contrived ? Nothing about contrived garbage that came from the FBI, more like STUPID and CARELESS along with " I don't recall " answers to most FBI questions

bu2
bu2

Hillary's lies are backed by her party.  Trump, not so much.  That makes her very dangerous.

curt49
curt49

@bu2 Trump is the standard bearer for his party and they are leaning on people to support him and his lies.

IReportYouWhine
IReportYouWhine

The parasitical crowd, the non workers of America and the non investment community are all excited about Trump's 1995 tax returns this morning, mainly because they don't have a clue has to how the world of business works.



We've compiled a list of all the buildings and areas owned by the Trump Organization in New York City; just in case you missed the giant "TRUMP" stamp on some of them.



 http://www.amny.com/real-estate/donald-trump-property-in-new-york-city-1.10670338



Investing in his own community, I would say that box has been checked. And if the career political types had any idea at all how to run a business, they would be able to understand that it takes a substantial upfront investment to own parts of a city and it maybe years before it becomes profitable. All of this, of course, is tax deductible. Has New York City benefited from this revitalization from the years of the Dinkens/Koch urban hellhole? Has Trump broken any laws?


But never mind the business aspects that the liberals are so clueless about, where'd did Trump get the Billion from? I thought he was "broke?"


lol

Eye wonder
Eye wonder

Hillary Clinton is a Real American (TM). She will save America from Trump the tyrant and make America great again! 

All hail Madame President-elect Hillary Rodham Clinton. Forward!

72DCSD99
72DCSD99

@Eye wonder "All Hail?"  That's scary.  And she hasn't been elected yet so the "President-Elect" isn't appropriate either.  But if she winds, I hope your faith in her bears out. 

Michael2255
Michael2255

Sound bite version: Liberals created the rise of Trump.

curt49
curt49

@Michael2255 Oh those darn liberals. Thumps rise was bases on lies and greed

EliasDenny
EliasDenny

@curt49 @Michael2255 All the lies and distortions of right wing radio and FOX cable for the years starting with Reagan have destroyed any truth the GOP might have. Trump is the result 

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

True. Leftists caused the cultural rot and continue to destroy the things that once held us together as a nation, including the family, marriage, religion, working for a living, and public schools that actually teach.

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

Leftists and ISIS have something in common--they both hate America for its freedoms.

Free speech, free exercise of religion, the right to protect yourself and your family from Democrat thugs, private property--rights hated by leftists.

Leftists are a far more clear and present danger to Americans than ISIS.

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

Your messiah Obama has acted opposite those views for eight years. He's a hypocrite and his supporters are mind-numbed robots, no different than "conservatives" slavishly supporting Trump.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@Lil_Barry_Bailout


You are so wrong.  "Leftists" love America and are proud of all that it has stood for, and stands for yet today, if Donald Trump is not elected to be our leader. 


I believe those on the Right feel the same way, but America must never move from its spiritual ideals and roots, which transcend any particular religious dogma.  Donald Trump represents superficiality, materialism, and the opposite of those long-standing ideals established for America by our Founding Fathers, imho.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@MaryElizabethSings @Lil_Barry_Bailout 

I must disagree with you, Mary. The hard core left does not love America and is not proud for all it has stood for. To the contrary the left sees America as a country that has been a bully in the world forcing its beliefs on other nations and taking advantage as the worlds super power. The left believes that America must be weakened in order to establish world peace. The left believes in global governance where America is subservient to a world governing body. I'm not sure if you're an innocent to the lefts hidden agenda or a proponent of its goal but many including myself vehemently disagree with you.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@SGTGrit @MaryElizabethSings @Lil_Barry_Bailout


The best way for me to respond to you, in order to try to raise your perceptions is to post these words of President Obama, whose views of what America must be in relation to the world in the future, match my own views:


From President Barack Obama’s speech at Cairo University in Cairo, Egypt, June 4, 2009:

“America does not presume to know what is best for everyone, just as we would not presume to pick the outcome of a peaceful election. But I do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and doesn’t steal from the people; the freedom to live as you choose. Those are not just American ideas, they are human rights, and that is why we will support them everywhere.

“For we have learned from recent experience that when a financial system weakens in one country, prosperity is hurt everywhere. When a new flu infects one human being, all are at risk. When one nation pursues a nuclear weapon, the risk of nuclear attack rises for all nations. When violent extremists operate in one stretch of mountains, people are endangered across an ocean. And when innocents in Bosnia and Darfur are slaughtered, that is a stain on our collective conscience. That is what it means to share this world in the 21st century. That is the responsibility we have to one another as human beings.

“This is a difficult responsibility to embrace. For human history has often been a record of nations and tribes subjugating one another to serve their own interests. Yet in this new age, such attitudes are self-defeating. Given our interdependence, any world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will inevitably fail. So whatever we think of the past, we must not be prisoners of it. Our problems must be dealt with through partnership; progress must be shared.”

========================

“Toward which the conscience of the world is tending —
A wind is rising, and the rivers flow.”

Novelist, Thomas Wolfe

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

"when innocents in Bosnia and Darfur are slaughtered, that is a stain on our collective conscience"

How many hundreds of thousands of Syrians have been slaughtered while your messiah Obama watched?

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

And what business is it of yours or of the government?

Liberal fascists believe it's their duty to punish those who don't share their extreme views.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@MaryElizabethSings @SGTGrit @Lil_Barry_Bailout

In this speech much of what he advocates his policies haven't supported. Particularly, when he speaks to transparency and the rule of law. Beyond that observation what he's saying corroborates what I posted. Obama, is speaking to globalization and that's the lefts not so much hidden agenda anymore. Also, it was the thinking of his late father.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

I disagree with the thinking of both you and LLB, SGTGrit.

I believe that President Obama has been an outstanding and moral president who has led this country from the pits of a near Depression to stability once again.  He has strongly endorsed his protege, Hillary Clinton, as the president to follow his presidency and his vision for America and for this world.  I support the visions of both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton for this world and nation.  I do not support the vision (if he even has one with his petty mind) of Donald Trump.  And, I believe that Donald Trump could place our nation and this world in peril. 

@SGTGrit @MaryElizabethSings @Lil_Barry_Bailout 

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

Bake the cake or be punished. Use the pronoun or be punished. Let the guy into your women's shower or be punished. Stop making movies critical of Hillary or be punished.

My thinking is right on point.

You are a cheerleader for liberal fascism.

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

What about the 250,000 dead Syrians? Is that a stain on your conscience?

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

Laughable. Leftists are waging war on people of faith, and have actually proposed rewriting Our First Amendment to give politicians power to regulate speech.

curt49
curt49

@Lil_Barry_Bailout you're telling me that because i see that trump is a scumbag and a crook that i hate freedom? my response is not printable and physically impossible to execute.

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

Your reading comprehension sucks.

And you confuse my opposition to lying scumbag crook Hillary with support for Trump.

Think before posting--you'll look less foolish.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@Lil_Barry_Bailout


Too many people of faith have shown themselves to be divisive and judgmental of others, while valuing the materialism of this world and the power of this world more than valuing seeking the wisdom of Jesus Christ, as reflected in their daily lives, imo, through how they treat others.

curt49
curt49

@Lil_Barry_Bailout you're telling me that because i see that trump is a scupbag and a crook that i hate freedom? my response is not printable and physically impossible to execute.