Lies and Damned Lies | Opinion | Salt Lake City Weekly

Lies and Damned Lies 

Taking a Gander: Ex-President Walter Mitty

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Francis Bacon—notable 16th century philosopher and statesman—was recognized as one of England's finest minds. He gifted our world with a better appreciation for methodical, skeptical use of scientific method in determining the validity of what we observe.

Oft quoted for his great intellect, Bacon made a statement about "imagination" that is spot-on in America today. "Imagination was given to man to compensate him for what he is not; a sense of humor to console him for what he is."

Much has been said about imagination. It is probably the most remarkable gift of the human brain, allowing mankind to ascend to ever greater accomplishments and to find solutions to the most challenging of the world's problems. The essence of imagination is that, without it, mankind has no wings.

The flip-side, of course, is that there's a clear difference between imagination and delusion. Bacon's quip about a sense of humor is a brilliant assessment of how we must treat the reality of our failures.

Whether a delusional supporter or a realistic critic of Donald Trump—the Pillsbury "Dough Man" of super-egos—no one can deny that the former president has a boundless imagination. It is also undeniable that he has no sense of humor when confronted with his failures, and that he will do anything in an attempt to convince others of his lies.

He claims he graduated first in his class at the Wharton School of Business and was awarded the glory of class valedictorian. Wow! But professors have noted that Trump was not a good student, and that his laziness made him an academic failure.

He claims to have one of the highest IQs in America, and was the smartest man to ever serve as its president. But our country has had its share of highly intelligent leaders—and Trump wasn't one of them, preferring to use gut instincts over rational decisions.

Trump said he was once named the "Michigan Man of the Year." He recited that B.S. in front of a Michigan crowd, and it was an outright fabrication.

Trump lauded his first State of the Union address as the best in history. Simply untrue.

He said his personal residence—the penthouse in the Trump Tower—is a whopping 33,000 square feet. But although Trump made that claim to inflate the penthouse's value to lenders, the residence is actually less than one-third that size.

Trump is a multi-billionaire, a self-made—or at least self-described—success who borrowed a million dollars from his father and turned it into a real estate empire. Except Trump actually received roughly $439 Million from his father and lost much of it on poor business decisions.

He boasted that his 2016 electoral college win was the biggest since Reagan. Not even close to the truth.

He claims that thousands of people were transported over state lines to vote for his opponent. Proven to be a lie.

Trump proudly funded his own presidential campaign rather than accepting donations from others. And while Trump did use some of his own money, he has been one of the biggest fund-raisers in American political campaign history.

Mar-a-Lago is worth $739 million, Trump says. Yeah, right! Appraisals show its value at a mere $75 Million.

And then there's the biggest: "The Lie" that Trump won the 2020 election and is the legitimate president of the United States. Except for a delusional fan club, no one actually believes Trump won.

Like James Thurber's The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Trump's imagination has taken him to the greatest heights. Wanting desperately to be considered a success, he has predictably used his own lies to assuage the pain of his failures. There's no question that he dreams—all in the pursuit of the greatness that has so eluded him—and his pathetic ego has prevented him from any self-conscious smile, chuckle or self-deprecation over his remarkably un-stunning successes.

In retrospect, everything he told Forbes to get on their coveted list of the wealthiest people was likely untrue. Was he even a billionaire? Probably not.

Great imaginations—and great dreams—require great commitment to achieve. Therein is Trump's failure as both a president and a man. Lazy as they come, and expending all his energy on golf, defrauding others and chasing skirts, he's never tried to become anything great.

The vision of a "legend in his own mind" has kept him from any real achievements. Desperately in need of affirmation, he has embraced the ignorant, the uneducated, the conspiracists and anyone who will tell him what he needs most to hear.

On some level, he must understand that those sycophants are, like him, merely liars who will say anything that soothes their egos or creates a sense of belonging to the group. His own need to be liked has made him a sucker for people like Kim Jong Un and Vladimir Putin. He's even embraced QAnon, though he says, "I don't know much about the movement, other than I understand they like me very much."

To be Trump's "friend," one must merely ignore everything factual and embrace the man's idiotic grandiosity. These people certainly don't care what's true. They choose to believe—beyond believing—when the facts clearly point to the failed reality of their man, both as a human being and as a credible business success.

So, as Francis Bacon observed, "imagination was given to (Trump) to compensate him for what he is not." But the necessary sense of humor—something that might otherwise console the miserable man—is glaringly lacking.

In terms of real value, Trump has little to give to the world. He is the antithesis of the American Dream.

The author is a retired, novelist, columnist, and former Vietnam-era Army assistant public information officer. He resides in Riverton with his wife, Carol, and the beloved ashes of their mongrel dog

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