We can debate all day whether Donald Trump is a pathological liar or a compulsive liar. (The difference between the two, after all, is both subtle and significant.) But no one who has been paying attention for the past nine months — or, indeed, for much of Trump’s unnaturally long life as America’s premier gilded clown — could possibly argue that the president is a fundamentally principled or honest man.
As a matter of fact, according to a sophisticated, proprietary algorithm that I developed in my head one afternoon while drinking warm ginger ale and tossing expired Airborne tablets to seagulls near the Brooklyn Bridge, Donald Trump has told so many strange, pointless, and/or obscene whoppers since he was sworn in as president that lies themselves are in danger of going extinct. We are fast approaching uncharted territory in the storied history of political mendacity: a moment when Trump’s dark talent for fabricating lies will outstrip the known universe’s ability to manufacture new falsehoods.
More astonishing still, it turns out that my algorithm — nickname: “Liar! Liar! Pants in Flames!” — is nimble enough to predict the last five lies that the deceiver-in-chief is likely to utter, tweet or bellow in public at his adoring fans. Based as they are on the well-documented arc of Mr. Trump’s career as a con man, race-baiting creep, and eater of broken meats, the algorithm’s predictions might not, in the end, be all that surprising. Nevertheless, here are the five lies that Donald Trump has not yet told — but that the Liar! Liar! algorithm predicts he will. And soon.
1) “I am the most popular president since Franklin D. Eisenhower!”
It is conceivable that Donald Trump is aware that FDR and Ike are two distinct human beings who occupied the White House in two very different eras. But the fact that both of those men routinely appear near the top of any list of the most popular American presidents, while Mr. Trump is statistically the least popular president in modern history, makes this lie characteristically Trumpian.
2) “Every single American who supports me is a patriot. I only appeal to good people. Decent people.”
“He didn’t attack us. He just said the nation should come together. Nothing specific against us … No condemnation at all. When asked to condemn, he just walked out of the room. Really, really good. God bless him.” — Andrew Anglin, founder of the neo-Nazi website the Daily Stormer, on Trump’s gutless non-response to white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August.
3) “I love Puerto Rico. I have a beautiful third nipple shaped exactly like that island surrounded by water. Big water. Ocean water.”
While many of us secretly wish that this statement were true, it turns out Trump has celebrated his fabled plus-one several times in the past, claiming in 2001, for example, that “it looks an awful lot like a silhouette of my pal Slobodan Miloševic,” and telling Howard Stern in 1998, “I have a huge, wonderful third nipple, Howard. I really do. It’s shaped like a Star of David. Believe me. Maybe that’s why I love the Jews and the Jews love me. Who knows?”
Sorry, Puerto Rico. You never had a chance. You were out-nippled long ago.
4) “I released my tax returns already. You missed it. Fake IRS!”
Donald Trump’s use of what are customarily known as “bear claw air quotes” when uttering the word “released” during this particular lie — that is, using the pointer, middle, ring and pinky fingers of each hand, rather than just two fingers to sketch out the quotation marks — suggests a grasp of meta-hipster irony that many will find surprising in a septuagenarian narcissist.
5) “Not one of the decisions I’ve made in office has been driven by a desire to erase the mark that President Obama made on history. I respect Mr. Obama. I admire his wife’s gardening skills. I wish his daughters were my kids. I am not at all jealous of the way that so many people here in America and around the world still adore him. The fact that he ripped me to shreds at the 2011 White House Correspondents’ Dinner had nothing to do with my decision to run for president. Hussein — as I like to call him — and I are friends. He loves me.”
There is something almost elegiac in this last lie or series of linked lies that will ever be uttered by a man of such formidable duplicity. After all, Trump’s every waking moment is transparently dedicated to wiping away President Obama’s achievements. President Trump is so desperate to obliterate 44′s legacy that he is willing to push policies that are at-once breathtakingly cynical and cowardly: stripping tens of millions of Americans of health insurance; giving his corporate pals free rein to pollute our air and water; leaving America the only developed nation on earth that refuses to even acknowledge, much less fight, climate change; overturning rules aimed at blocking gun sales to certain mentally ill people; and on and on.
The only question that remains is an elemental one: What sort of nation will we be when Donald Trump finally runs out of lies?
But hey, don’t look to me for an answer. Even my beautiful algorithm can’t envision a world so unfamiliar and so utterly, blessedly new.