February 20, 2017

We Can't Handle the Truth?

The first time I thought Trump had a chance to win when was Donny Deutsch on Morning Joe said this election was like TV series and in November the voters would decide whose storyline they wanted to see continue - Trump's or Hillary's? The answer was and is self-evident.

Yesterday Jonah Goldberg wrote something that sort of cemented it, and gave me fresh appreciation as to why the Bible, with its stories, is far more popular than catechisms:
While working on my book, I’ve come to believe more than ever that man is a story-telling animal and that stories are what give us meaning, direction, and passion. Hume’s point about reason being a slave to passion should be more properly understood as “reason is a slave to narrative.” ...It is entirely true that the press served as an eager participant in the story of Obama. It is also entirely true that much of the mainstream media is playing the reverse role in the story of Trump’s presidency.
"Truth’s a dog that must to kennel. He must be whipped out, when Lady Brach may stand by th' fire and stink." - Shakespeare's King Lear

Heard WSJ columnist talk about Trump's trouble with the truth. He said implicit in Trump's assertion that "a lot of people say that" is to conflate popular opinion with the truth. To actually defend an untruth by the fact that many hold it is reminded the columnist of a serious philosophical argument that Plato had concerning whether injustice was better than justice.

No wonder someone tweeted during the campaign that Trump was the natural result of a society of relativism. In some ways it's liberals who have created fertile ground for Trump by insisting that the truth doesn't matter in matters like when life begins or which religion is true.

(It reminds me of how years ago I wondered if the illusion of truth is just as good as truth, specifically with the infancy narratives in the gospels. Would it matter if one of the accounts wasn't factually accurate since both teach deep and powerful messages about the coming of the Messiah?)

The way I've been looking at Trump post-election is that he's entitled, so to speak, to be fallible. That I have to put up with him as president just as my wife has to put up with me. Not to overlook flaws certainly but at least to understand he has them and thus write them off to some extent. "He's just being Trump," I think.

But the danger was posed by columnist that truth is "whatever you can get away with" is dangerous because it can spread. More people will imbibe his philosophy - he'll get converts. I'm not sure this is true - it seems like in most cases the president acts as an allergen that inoculates. Which is why we get opposite presidents each time (plainspoken Bush was the opposite of fork-tongued Clinton, aloof Obama the opposite of Bush, and Trump the opposite of everybody).

It's probably not a coincidence that the rise of the new atheism came during the presidency of the most evangelical Christian president we'd had in some time (Bush II). Similarly, I think the worst thing for Mormon recruitment would've been had Romney won in '12.

But tactics may be different than personalities and philosophies, and Trump's tactics work to some extent so there's the rub.

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