What lies before us now?

Donald Trump was the only one of the Republican candidates for president who had the foresight to criticize the invasion of Iraq back in 2002 and 2003 – according to Donald Trump. He was “loud and clear” about it. He made “headlines”. He was so outspoken on the topic, and his views were so widely reported in the media, that the Bush White House contacted him to ask him to tone down his criticisms. 

It is a reasonable point for him to make. It says something about his judgment that while almost all Republicans and a majority of Democrats were supporting the war he had both the insight and the courage to speak out. The only problem is that what Donald Trump says about his record is simply false. It is demonstrably untrue in almost every particular; just like the rest of Donald Trump’s campaign.

When challenged, his campaign pointed to a media report from 2004 – over a year after the invasion, which demonstrates not so much his vaunted foresight but instead the much more common hindsight. But the media were still reluctant to call him on it. It is notoriously difficult to prove a negative. Who knows now what Trump might have said in 2003? 

But when further pressed on this Trump simply retreats to the big lie. If he says often and loudly enough that he was very outspoken on the matter and that there are headlines to back him up naive supporters will believe him. If reporters have been unable to uncover the headlines this is because they haven’t looked hard enough. 

Trump was not a politician in 2003 nor even a reality TV star. He was a reasonably prominent real estate magnate who had built a small business empire by inheriting a large one and running it badly. He was a registered Democrat, who was occasionally asked about his political views. In the context of New York’s largest office building being destroyed by terrorists, the views of a real estate mogul had at least some relevance.

Far from being “loud and clear” on Iraq he was rather equivocal. Asked if he supported the invasion he responded “I suppose so”. On another occasion he said that the administration should either do something or not do something. Thanks for that, Donald. Very helpful. Next time you are considering a bankruptcy filing or some new reality TV contract I suggest you either do something or not do something. By the way, I want a fee for that invaluable business advice.

Yes, political correctness can be irritating. Yes, most politicians spend too much time focus group testing their “messages”. The Clintons have made famously used carefully crafted phrases that imply X while leaving wiggle room. There is something refreshing about a candidate who has no filter and will say anything that crosses his mind. But Trump will say anything that seems convenient at the time, even when he knows that it is blatantly untrue. 

He will lie, boldly, loudly, and in the certain knowledge that if he is caught he can simply lie again, or accuse his critics of lying. Anything that is convenient. Anything that serves the grand cause of Trump’s ego. There are no lines that he will not cross and no depths he will not plumb to boost his self-importance. 

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Quentin Langley is a Senior Lecturer in Marketing at the University of Bedfordshire Business School as well as a freelance columnist published in the UK and all parts of the US. He blogs on social media and crisis communications at brandjacknews.com

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