By Richard Hébert
I heard a rumor recently from an anonymous acquaintance: That the Donald is not really 70 years old. He’s more like 74 or 73. Maybe 75. And he wasn’t born in the U.S.A. He was born in Nazi Germany — in 1942 or 1943, or maybe 1941. And his real name, like that of his grandfather, is Drumpf.
So, Mr. Drumpf, which is it? You could resolve all this confusion quite simply by showing us your long-form birth certificate. While you’re at it, how about adding those tax returns? The past 10 years or so would do nicely. The ACLU has filed a Freedom of Information Act request for them to help you along. Contrary to your alternative universe, we all would very much like to see them.
No one is accusing you of lying, of course. But still, we’re learning from you that facts are not as stubborn as they used to be, they are quite malleable. And you’ve helped immensely in making sure we know that there are “facts” and then there are “alternative facts,” not to be confused with each other.
You’ve successfully turned Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s maxim on its head. No more can we admonish, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.” Now you – and all of us, I presume – are allowed to cite our own facts however we wish.
Back to the “facts” of the rumor at hand. Rumors can be facts, too, can’t they? You insisted as much some years ago when you were manning the barricades demanding that then President Barrack Obama produce his birth certificate. You said you even had sent your minions – excuse me, your investigators – to Hawaii and Kenya and they were turning up some surprising new facts about the President’s origin.
Of course, you never did say what those new “facts” were, did you. Do they continue to be facts even if never disclosed? Maybe you should now at last disclose what your private investigators learned over there, even though you more recently admitted that Obama was indeed born in America – which is to say you admitted you had been lying. Or am I getting my facts wrong?
Your birth certificate (long-form, please, dated and stamped with official seals) would help clear up an awful lot of confusion, especially if accompanied by a boat-load of tax returns. Because, if you were indeed born in Germany in, say, 1941 or 1942 or 1943, and your granddad was a member of the National Socialist Party there, well that would explain an awful lot of your present-day tendencies, wouldn’t it?
Mind you, I’m not calling you a Nazi. I’m simply opining that you might well have spent your formative years over there, being primed with ideas that were running that country at the time. It might explain your tendency to belittle anyone who opposes you as a “loser” or “crooked.” It might explain those nativist tendencies of yours as well. After all, what’s the difference between “Deutschland über alles” and “America First”? Just saying.
The tax returns, in turn, could answer a whole cascade of other questions, about your international financial ties, dealings and debts, your affection for plutocrats and dictators worldwide (especially in Russia), your penchant for exaggerating your own worth, the size of your crowds, the size of your popular vote, those 5 million “illegals” you say voted in the recent election, obviously a clarion call to governors and state legislatures from sea-to-shining-sea to clamp down with more restrictive voter-ID and other anti-minority tactics, and so on.
I mean, if you were prone to exaggerate on your tax returns and get away with it, it would explain how you expect to get away with all your other “alternative facts,” right?
And while we’re at it, how about those whatchamacallits – the E-Molly-Mints you might collect from sycophants around the world eager to curry your favor by staying in one of your (ivory?) towers now that you are top dog in the world’s biggest, strongest and richest kennel?
I recently caught an interesting interview by MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell with Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe, one of a panel of attorneys suing you for violating the U.S. Constitution because your hotels may already be accepting payments from foreign governments – in effect, bribes, more politely referred to as “emoluments.” Check it out yourself here, by searching for the Laurence Tribe segment on O’Donnell’s “The Last Word.”
Sir, if you don’t mind my saying so, you seem to be on a very slippery slope.
First came delusion – believing what you wanted to believe, like those “thousands and thousands” of people you “saw” dancing on rooftops in New Jersey as New York’s Twin Towers came crashing down on 9/11, despite zero evidence it ever happened.
Then came distortions, slight alterations and exaggerations of the known facts at first, a little nip-and-tuck here and there, then more serious alterations to make the imperial garb more impressive, even if the emperor still had no clothes.
When that succeeded, you went for the brass ring of what I suppose Stephen Colbert would call un-truthiness, “alternative facts,” as your partner in fabrication, Kellyanne Conway, phrased it. Once elected to office, your popularity plummeted. Enraged, you dispatched your flacks to give us your “alternative facts” – the polls were rigged, your inaugural crowd was the largest in history, etc.
But forget crowd size and nonexistent “illegals” voting. We have far more serious “alternative facts” to weigh. Combining your penchant for hyperbolic self-aggrandizement with your penchant for governing like a bull in a china shop, we get:
The environment, for one glaring example. During the campaign, you boasted you were a great friend of the environment, thusly: “I’ve won many environmental awards, by the way. I’ve actually been called an environmentalist, if you can believe that.” (None of this was true, of course.)
Then you named as Environmental Protection Agency director Scott Pruitt, the Oklahoma attorney general who petitioned the U.S. government to stop interfering with his state’s desire to keep fracking, the primary cause of Oklahoma’s record-setting number of earthquakes.
Then, with a few strokes of your pen, you gave approval to both the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines and put the EPA in deep freeze, shutting down its grants program and forbidding its scientists to speak publicly about or publish any information, on official channels or personal devices. No tweets, no press releases, no interviews. Nothing, nada, zilch. Similar directives were given to the Agriculture and Interior departments, whose research also touches on climate change.
Continuing your first-week’s rampage through the china shop, you ordered all regulatory agencies to stop funding any research that underpins the regulations they issue, because that would be a “conflict of interest.” After all, who would know a conflict of interest when he saw one better than you?
So, your love of the environment appears to be just another “alternative fact.” By the way, have you noticed how this and other aspects of the Drumpf method of governance have their roots in George Orwell’s brilliant novel, “1984,” in which, to quote Wikipedia:
…(T)yranny is ostensibly overseen by Big Brother, the Party leader who enjoys an intense cult of personality…. The Party “seeks power entirely for its own sake. It is not interested in the good of others; it is interested solely in power.”
Sound familiar? The entire premise of the novel is a dire warning that ahead lies the dystopian world of “alternative facts” and megalomania. Orwell conceived the thesis of his novel in 1944, as World War II raged on. Clearly, he had Adolf Hitler in mind. As he peered down the dark tunnel into the future, you must admit he was pretty accurate, even though he fell some 33 years short on its timing. In 2017, Orwell must be leaping for joy in his grave.
Which brings us back where we started. “Alternative facts” are lies. There’s no way around it. Mr. Drumpf, do you think I’m dealing in “alternative facts” – lies – as well? Prove them wrong, Drumpfie: show us your long-form birth certificate and your tax returns for at least the past 10 years.
Maybe then we’ll begin believing what you say.