There’s a legal term applied to advertising called “puffery.” For example, if Coca-Cola says Coke is the best-tasting soda in the world, that’s just puffery. They can’t prove it, but that’s okay, even if polls show that most people prefer Pepsi. Legally, statements like this are evaluated not as strictly factual claims, but as mere ordinary boasting, something that “ordinary consumers do not take seriously.”
The same concept applies to politics. Presidential candidates always say their tax plans will balance, they’ll crush every one of our enemies, and the current incumbent is the worst ever in history. This is just puffery. It’s worth pushing back on, but it’s not generally a hanging offense.
But Donald Trump is different. Sure, his picture is probably in the dictionary next to the word “puffery,” but he also tosses out wild howlers with a con man’s breezy assurance and tells flat-out lies as a matter of routine. He’ll say things one day, and 24 hours later he’ll blandly insist he’s being malignly misquoted even though it’s all on tape. These aren’t just exaggerations or spin or cherry picking. They’re things that are flatly, incontrovertibly wrong.
And that’s not all. Trump doesn’t do this only in private or only when he’s under pressure. Nor does he do it to cover up dubious past deeds. That would at least be normal human weakness. Rather, he does it again and again in front of huge crowds and on national TV, whether he needs to or not. It’s just his normal, everyday behavior.
We need an official list of this stuff. Like I said: not exaggerations or spin or cherry picking. Things that are just plain wrong. Here’s a start:
- On 9/11, he personally saw thousands of Muslims in Jersey City cheering.
- He never said Marco Rubio was Mark Zuckerberg’s “personal senator.”
- There are actually 93 million people not working and the real unemployment rate is about 40 percent.
- The Obama administration is sending Syrian refugees to red states.
- Climate change is a hoax invented by the Chinese.
- He opposed the Iraq War and has dozens of news clippings to prove it.
- Thirteen Syrian refugees were “caught trying to get into the U.S.” (Actually, they just walked up and requested asylum.)
- He never said the stuff Megyn Kelly accused him of saying in the first debate.
- He will allow guns at Trump golf resorts.
- People on the terrorism watch are already prohibited from buying guns.
- Among white homicide victims, 81 percent are killed by blacks.
- America has the highest tax rate in the world.
- CNN lied when it reported that a speech he gave in South Carolina was one-third empty.
- His criticism of Ford prompted the company to move a factory from Mexico to Ohio.
- Vaccines cause autism.
- The Obama administration wants to admit 250,000 Syrian refugees.
- ISIS built a luxury hotel in the Middle East.
- He was on 60 Minutes with Vladimir Putin and “got to know him very well.”
- He was never interested in opening a casino in Florida.
- November 17: The United States only started bombing ISIS oil fields “two days ago.”
- His campaign is 100 percent self-funded.
- Mexico doesn’t have birthright citizenship.
- The Iran deal forces us to “fight with Iran against Israel” if Israel attacks Iran.
- We still “really don’t know” if Barack Obama was born in the United States.
- More than 300,000 veterans have died waiting for VA care.
- The Bush White House begged him to tone down his “vocal” opposition to the Iraq War.
This is not normal political hucksterism. It’s a pathological disregard for the truth. Trump knows that the conventions of print journalism mostly prevent reporters from really calling him out on this stuff, and he also knows that TV reporters won’t usually press him too hard because they want him back on their shows. And when he does get called out, he just bluffs his way through. He knows his followers will believe him when he says the fault-finding is just another example of how the liberal media has it out for him. Within a day or three, he’s repeated the lie often enough that it’s old news and enters the canon of what “everyone knows.” Journalists don’t even bother with it anymore because they’re already trying to play catch-up with his latest whopper.
Anyway, this list is meant only as a start. It’s what I came up with just by digging through my memory and doing a bit of googling. I’m sure there are plenty of others. Feel free to add them in comments.