By the time Donald Trump becomes president in a few, desperately shortening weeks, he will already have made falsehood a U.S. goal. Trump does not lie to cover up the truth; he lies to deny the possibility that such a thing even exists. His feints and reversals are the essence of his belief system; he espouses a philosophy of bullshit. Until now, those habitual falsehoods have been the idiosyncrasies of a private citizen with no real responsibility toward anyone but himself. Once he takes the oath, his style becomes policy. We will have to get used to a president who dismisses the intelligence apparatus he commands, who denies events that took place on live television, who does not care whether he is caught in an obvious contradiction. We will have to learn to read a leader who treats truth as one option among many. When he issues a howler from the Oval Office, and his minions faithfully repeat it, that won’t be propaganda, but showbiz.
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