The devaluation of language during the past campaign, and in the current tweets of Donald Trump may be as dangerous as his actual policies. There was that old expression "his word is his bond" that underscored the belief that the person's words were an expression of his true beliefs and he always stood by them. But when Trump speaks, tweets, or merely growls, his explainers come out to tell us that he didn't really mean that - sometimes he meant the exact opposite of what he said or wrote. Now we have a choice. We can assume that nothing he says is true (which seems a safe bet) or that he does not know what his words mean (another safe bet). We will hear the phrase, President Trump misspoke - which is the DC way of saying that President Trump lied. The problem may be that a career as a real estate developer is a career in lying - so much so that words are only useful to gather money from bankers, assure workers they will be paid - "just as soon as "- and cajole tenants or buyers with words like "your unit will certainly be ready by..." So that words are tools of the trade - but not the tools of truth. But government is not business where one can move on from bankruptcy to a new set of promises - government, to work, needs a working friendship with the truth. Lies, dressed up as truths are propaganda - slogans that fit on a tee-shirt but not on a country.
When Bill Clinton tried to cover the now historic tracks of his sexual escapades with "that depends upon what the meaning of is is" the nation led by a zealous press moved in for the kill. Virtually every word, every tweet of Trump exceeds that moment yet by telling so many untruths - by devaluing language itself - he builds a protective shield around himself - for the opposition does not know where to go first - what lie shall be challenged? So for each lie caught - a dozen run away from public view. How can we spotlight one lie and let all the others slither away to safety? How can our allies believe him? Worse yet, how can our enemies believe him? Lies are about to become official domestic and foreign policy - which means the words of government will have no value at all.
As kids we used to say "I give you my word of honor" when we wanted to impress a friend with our truth telling. But now we have a man who is about to become President who has no words and no honor. The good news is that truthful words - used bravely - are the one weapon we have against the Prince of Lies. Truth has a power that will prevail because it is backed up by reality - and you can't screw with reality day in day out without reality getting awfully annoyed and striking back. Reality is slow to anger. It can be awfully patient with a liar - letting him climb to the highest office - but it will always pull the throne out from under him when it has had enough - and sometimes reality makes a fist and strikes back - so that the Liar King is forced to tweet, "Nobody hit me - I just walked into a doorknob." Three cheers for reality. Hard as it is to live with some days - it is all we have to rescue us from the crooks and liars who ascend to power.