Askia MuhammadColumnistsOpinion

MUHAMMAD: Trump the President Talks Loose Like the Candidate

Donald J. Trump, who never spent so much as one day in military service and who has never before been elected to public office, is now president of the United States, and the only way to make sense of it is by employing Orwellian “doublethink.”

In that construct, everything that is really good appears to be bad, and everything really bad appears good. The Bible says the devil “makes evil fair seeming.”

Trump began his presidency with one of the shortest Inaugural Addresses in recent memory, but the first which needed to be fact-checked, because … well, The Donald has been known to be fast and loose with the facts. This speech was no exception. It was full of hyperbole, exaggeration and misinterpretations of the facts.

After Trump dissembled in front of CIA employees in his first official appearance the day after he was sworn in, he attacked the news media which accurately reported with compelling, side-by-side photos, that fewer people attended this event than attended Barack Obama’s first inaugural in 2009.

Both taken from atop the Washington Monument at the time of the swearing-in, the pictures appear to show large areas where no people were standing when Trump was sworn in, compared to people standing there in 2009.

“I have a running war with the media,” Trump told about 400 CIA personnel. “They are among the most dishonest human beings on Earth. And they sort of made it sound like I had a feud with the intelligence community. And I just want to let you know, the reason you’re the number one stop is exactly the opposite.”

Huh? During the campaign, Trump said the CIA was equivalent to “Nazi Germany.”

“We did a thing yesterday at the speech and … we had a massive field of people,” Trump said of his inauguration. “You saw that. Packed. I get up this morning, I turn on one of the networks, and they show an empty field. I’m like, wait a minute. I made a speech. I looked out, the field was, it looked like a million, million and a half people.”

By every objective measurement, that statement is contradicted by the facts. Comedian Groucho Marx used to joke, when trying to make an improbable point: “What are you going to believe? Me or your lying eyes?”

Orwellian “doublethink” convinces us that “less is more.” This is Trump 2017.

Then during his first appearance in the James Brady Press Briefing Room, new Press Secretary Sean Spicer doubled down on the patently false claim by Trump.

“This was the largest audience ever to witness an inauguration, period,” Spicer said with emphasis. “Both in person and around the globe.”

Not true.

According to the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority, 570,557 people took trips on Friday in total, compared with 1.1 million trips at Obama’s 2009 inauguration and 782,000 at his 2013 inauguration. Wouldn’t you know it, Spicer took no questions after delivering his remarks.

Metro reported that the massive Women’s March — held the day after the inauguration, which many saw as an anti-Trump protest — posted eight times as many riders on public transportation as on Trump Inauguration Day, and parking authorities announced they received 1,200 requests for bus parking spaces for the protest march, compared with only 200 inaugural requests.

And this gives the story a truly Orwellian twist: When confronted about Spicer’s and Trump’s false statements about audience size, White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway said the White House press secretary was simply giving “alternative facts” when he inaccurately described the inauguration crowd as “the largest ever” during his first appearance before the press.

Alternative facts coincide with the alternative reality the Trump presidency — just like the Trump candidacy — is creating in the real world.

And guess what? Conway revealed that Trump will not be releasing his tax returns. She said that issue has already been “litigated” by the voters, who elected Trump even without answers to questions his tax returns would reveal about his fitness for office.

Those tax returns will never be released now, not for any year in the future either. Trump is impeachment-proof, and the closest thing you can get to a Tin-horn dictator north of the equator, on this side of the Atlantic.

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Askia Muhammad

WPFW News Director Askia Muhammad is also a poet, and a photojournalist. He is Senior Editor for The Final Call newspaper and he writes a weekly column in The Washington Informer.

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