He hasn’t taken office yet, but Donald Trump is lost, wandering in a labyrinth of lies and trying to drag the country in with him.
Witness his reaction to being called out on Sunday by Meryl Streep. Speaking at the Golden Globes, she said she had been stunned and heartbroken to see him mock a reporter with a physical disability.
It happened at a speech in 2015 in South Carolina. Mr. Trump’s target was Serge Kovaleski, of The Times, who has arthrogryposis, a condition that leaves his right arm and hand bent and rigid. “You ought to see this guy,” Mr. Trump told his audience, flailing his own right arm and hand in the air, making spastic movements, disgracing himself. The act was contemptible, and in a way unbelievable: a future president showing the maturity and schoolyard viciousness of an 8-year-old.
“I still can’t get it out of my head,” Ms. Streep said, “because it wasn’t in a movie. It was real life. And this instinct to humiliate, when it’s modeled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody’s life, because it kinda gives permission for other people to do the same thing. Disrespect invites disrespect, violence incites violence. And when the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.
”In early morning tweets, Mr. Trump attacked Ms. Streep and swore innocence:
Hillary flunky who lost big. For the 100th time, I never "mocked" a disabled reporter (would never do that) but simply showed him…….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 9, 2017
Just more lies upon lies. It all goes back to Mr. Trump’s baseless claim that he saw Muslims dancing in the streets by the thousands after the towers fell on 9/11. Challenged over this, Mr. Trump seized on a 2001 article in The Washington Post, written by Mr. Kovaleski when he was a reporter there, that he said backed up his story. But the article did not do that. It merely reported that the authorities had questioned “a number of people” who were “allegedly seen” celebrating the attack. Nothing has ever come of that “allegedly” — there has never been any evidence to substantiate Mr. Trump’s claim, not then, not now. Mr. Kovaleski did not change his story — not “totally,” not at all. And he did not grovel.
Mr. Trump’s mouthpiece, Kellyanne Conway, went on TV on Monday to defend her boss. “He has debunked this so many times,” she said, casually contorting the meaning of “debunked.” (She meant “pathetically denied.”)
“Why is everything taken at face value?” she said. “You can’t give him the benefit of the doubt on this and he’s telling you what was in his heart? You always want to go by what’s come out of his mouth rather than look at what’s in his heart.”
This is where things got really weird. Ms. Conway’s quote is a glimpse into the heart of darkness that a Trump presidency portends. She wants us to swallow Mr. Trump’s reality without question. To accept only what he says now — not what he said then — over the evidence seen and heard by our own eyes and ears. She wants us overcome the dissonance by looking for the “truth” in his heart.
The truth is getting harder to see in the flickering gaslight of Mr. Trump’s America, but it’s there. Not “in his heart,” or out of his mouth, no matter how much this man and his minions say otherwise.