President Trump called James Comey a liar, a slimeball, a leaker and the worst FBI director in history.
He accused Democrats of treason for failing to applaud his speeches and policies.
He berated James Mueller, who is heading up an investigation of ties between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives.
“It’s a disgraceful situation, it’s a total witch hunt,” Trump said of Mueller. “It’s an attack on our country, in a sense, it’s an attack on what we all stand for.”
A week rarely goes by without the president attacking the character of Democrats, the FBI, reporters, or Republicans who disagree with him.
Often, his attacks include inaccurate information and accusations.
Sometimes he lies to make himself look better, including making false claims about crowd sizes at his inauguration and campaign rallies.
He also lies to protect himself, such as when he claims not to know people who, according to pictures, video, news stories and court documents, he does know.
And he lies to smear people, as he did for years with repeated false claims about Barack Obama’s citizenship. This allows him to lower public opinion about his targets’ integrity, so he looks better in comparison.
Recently, Trump called for the resignation of Sen. Jon Tester (D-Montana) because Tester questioned the character of Ronny L. Jackson, the president’s nominee to head the Veterans Administration.
Jackson has served as a doctor to not only Trump but also to presidents Obama and George W. Bush. Trump nominated Jackson to lead the VA after he fired David Shulkin.
Some Democrats and Republicans questioned Jackson’s lack of managerial experience. Then Democrats added allegations of misconduct. It’s unclear whether any of the allegations are true, but some were false.
Trump thinks Tester should resign for spreading inaccurate information. If that’s the standard, then Trump will need to lead the way out the door.
But as we have seen over the past couple of years, in this administration honesty is not a virtue but a rhetorical tool. As such, the president’s occasional concern about others’ honesty only highlights his own sad record.
The cost of lying is proving high for the nation because honesty is necessary to establish reasonable policies and make good decisions.
Without honesty and the expectation of it, no one is held accountable. Not the president, not our senators, not the people who fed the rumors of Jackson’s misconduct to the media and senators.
Those in government and those of us subject to its caprices are operating in a universe in which rumors, fickle minds and the amount of noise one can generate for or against an idea determine our fate.
Not facts. Not science. Not reasonable possibilities.
In our current Orwellian environment, the president’s cabinet members, staff, political supporters and the GOP defend his false claims and inaccurate assertions.
If honesty and the expectation of it form the foundation of sound decision-making, where does that leave us when it comes to, say, immigration policy.
In the Trump administration, policy is determined by the inaccurate claims that immigrants to this country are mostly lazy welfare cases, criminals or terrorists.
No facts support that assertion. Instead, data show immigrants tend to be like most U.S. born Americans.
The same situation exists with the president’s claims regarding voter fraud and foreign trade, to name just two other issues.
When Trump repeatedly claims that millions of noncitizens voted illegally for Democrats, he is disputing credible studies that show voter fraud is exceedingly rare — and is as likely among those who vote Republican as those who vote Democrat.
When he states that trade deals have hurt the nation’s economy, he’s ignoring years of data that show the opposite.
The president’s goal is to fuel public mistrust and uncertainty, while touting his own sometimes imaginary achievements. Trump hopes to hold on to power by exploiting Americans’ fears about crime, terrorism and their jobs.
It’s working, for Trump. But it’s hard to see how abandonment of the principles upon which our government was founded makes us a stronger, better nation.
A native of Garden City, Julie Doll is a former journalist who has worked at newspapers in California, Indiana and New York, as well as across Kansas.