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Jeb Bladine: Stretching credulity a dangerous affair

When something is hard to believe, you might say it “strains credulity.” Actually, since credulity implies gullibility, something that strains credulity is so flawed that even a gullible person might see through the fiction.

President Donald Trump regularly strains credulity. Yet even when some truth comes to light, as happened this week with respect to $130,000 in hush money paid to porn star Stormy Daniels, the president’s political base simply ignores, disbelieves, forgives or otherwise disregards his character failures.

Prior to Wednesday, Trump professed no knowledge of the payment made by his besieged personal attorney, Michael Cohen. Then, newly hired Trump counselor Rudy Giuliani admitted Cohen had been reimbursed $460,000 to $470,000 for those kinds of “expenses,” while Trump, still denying the one-night affair, tweeted, “These agreements are very common among celebrities and people of wealth.”

It strains credulity.

Whatchamacolumn

Jeb Bladine is president and publisher of the News-Register.

> See his column

Maria Konnikova, writing last year in Politico Magazine, pointed out, “All presidents lie. Richard Nixon said he was not a crook … Ronald Reagan said he wasn’t aware of the Iran-Contra deal … Bill Clinton said he did not have sex with that woman … Lying in politics … is, in some ways, an inherent part of the profession of politicking.”

However, Konnikova, a Russian-American writer of psychology and science, put Trump in a class of his own.

“The sheer frequency, spontaneity and seeming irrelevance of his lies have no precedent,” she wrote. “Nixon, Reagan and Clinton were protecting their reputations; Trump seems to lie for the pure joy of it. A whopping 70 percent of Trump’s statements that PolitiFact checked during the campaign were false.”

The article focused on Trump as emblematic of the devastating impact on society from a steady stream of falsehoods. One of Konnikova’s warnings:

“Scarier still for those who have never supported Trump is that he just might colonize their brains, too. When we are in an environment headed by someone who lies, so often, something frightening happens: We stop reacting to the liar as a liar. His lying becomes normalized. We might even become more likely to lie ourselves.”

Konnikova concluded, “The distressing reality is that our sense of truth is far more fragile than we would like to think it is … A leader who lies constantly creates a new landscape, and a citizenry whose sense of reality may end up swaying far more than they think possible. It’s little wonder that authoritarian regimes with sophisticated propaganda operations can warp the world views of entire populations.”

Jeb Bladine can be reached at jbladine@newsregister.com or 503-687-1223.

Comments

A New Generation

http://newsregister.com/article?articleTitle=lewis-reluctantly-leaves-office--1357274348--5859--

Airman

Jeb, I cannot believe you would write an editorial about politicians telling lies (especially about sexual misconduct). Did you just wake up from a 100 year nap??

Jeb Bladine

Airman,

Again, as quoted, "All president's lie." But the author quoted put the current president "in a class of his own." Cozine Creek regularly fills up portions of Lower City Park, and we hardly notice. But if it washed over the bank and covered West Second Street with 2 feet of water, it probably would draw a comment or two.

When it comes to care with the truth, Mr. Trump appears to be a 100-year flood.

Airman

Jeb, whether the water goes 2 feet over the road or not, it's still "dirty water". Don't be passing Trump off as the abomination as the left likes to do.

Mudstump

Airman - You don't have to be left leaning to see the true character of Trump. You just have to have been raised right. No person who values common decency and living life as an upstanding human being would advocate for Trump. You may agree with his policies, but he is a despicable human. He's a vile draft-dodging coward who has said some truly loathsome things about a war hero like John McCain. He's cruel and corrupt to the bone. He has no redeeming qualities whatsoever. If you feel you can defend a liar, serial adulterer, abuser, bully, know-nothing and a charlatan go ahead, but he's not worthy of your support.

Jeb Bladine

Mudstump,

I sometimes think I should avoid online comments … after all, I already get a pretty big bite at the apple simply by having the opportunity to write a newspaper column. You reinforce that thought by providing a far more eloquent, on-point comment than I ever would have contributed.
That said, counter-comments from Airman and others always are welcome in an open forum that should acknowledge diverse opinions.

Mudstump

Jeb Bladine - I too worry about "Trumpism" becoming the new normal. I like to think that there are more good and decent people who will refuse to lower themselves to the rock-bottom standard Trump set on the campaign trail and is setting in his first term. I believe we have an unstable crook with no moral compass running the country right now he is being aided and abetted by the republicans who control all of government. In fact, some in Congress are helping him. In the end, I hope they "lock Trump and the whole gang of crooks up" to use Trump's own words.

Keep up your good work. I enjoy reading your insights and comments.

Jim

Mudstump you don’t have to be very far Right Leaning to know that Obama caused more civil unrest than the last 10 presidents together and Clinton is every bit the womanizer as the current President. The current President is not a professional politician and he makes mistakes no doubt about it. But he has steered this country into the best economy it’s seen in 20 years.

Jim

Mudstump you don’t have to be very far Right Leaning to know that Obama caused more civil unrest than the last 10 presidents together and Clinton is every bit the womanizer as the current President. The current President is not a professional politician and he makes mistakes no doubt about it. But he has steered this country into the best economy it’s seen in 20 years.

Mudstump

Jim - so a low-life president is acceptable because the economy is good? Let's tell the young people of this country that it's okay for our president to set the worst example by lying and cheating on his wife with porn stars and Playboy bunnies because business is good?

Right...got it. Btw...I don't know of any civil unrest during the Obama administration and for Bill Clinton...he was dealt with....impeached by the House. When will the republicans in the House do the same to Trump? I do remember the economy was never better under Clinton and was pretty good under Obama considering what he inherited from the Bush administration.

Jim

Mudstump we had two candidates and he happened to be the lesser of two evils. If you think Hilary was better candidate of the two I have a little ocean front property in Arizona you need to look at.


Mudstump

Jim - We had two deeply flawed candidates to choose from in my opinion. I firmly held my nose and voted for Hillary because she was the best of the two and we are reminded everyday exactly why she was better. At the very least she would have conducted herself with a certain level of decorum and human decency indicative of the office of the president and she wouldn't have made us the laughing stock of the world.

Bill B

yes let's have more political correctness and less false pretenses. From what I've seen so far, the president delivers on his promises

Bill B

I meant more false pretenses

Mudstump

Bill B - Over 3,000 lies and you want claim that is just being too "politically correct?"

His promises?....like Mexico paying for the wall? Or promising that he wouldn't bomb Syria? Or that he'd drain the swamp? Or while calling Hillary out for her cozy ties to Goldman Sachs he filled his cabinet with GS execs? Or when he promised that he wouldn't take a salary? Or that he wouldn't play golf like Obama...he was going to be all work remember? Or when he promised he would surround himself with the best and brightest?....Or that he would reveal his tax returns after the election? Or that he would divest himself of his financial interests to avoid conflicts of interest? Yeah...he's keeping his promises...bs.

Jim

If Hilary would have been elected by the end of her term Russia,North Korea or Iran would have owned our country because she would have sold it to the highest bidder. President Trump may not be all everyone wants in a President and I get that but in my heart I still believe he has the USA’s best interests in his mind.

tagup

Trump has only his self interest in his mind......His ego determines his course of action in every case....He’s everything you teach your children not to be.....

Mudstump

Jim - If Hillary would have been elected we most likely would have a plan in place to shore up security against the kind of attack Russia/Putin made on our election by now. Trump hasn't uttered one word about the Russian interference except to call everything fake news. He seems to have plenty of disparaging things to say about the dedicated folks who serve in our national security agencies everyday to protect this country. Why is national security not a priority for Trump and the republicans? We have a president that is compromised by a foreign power and Trump is so wrapped up in his own self-interest he cares very little about the democracy that America holds dear and near to our founding principles.

Jim

Mudstump if Hilary were elected she would have sold everything in this country to foreign powers to make weapons to wipe us off the face of the earth. They still haven’t proven one thing on Russian interference because they’re to busy raiding his lawyers office to prove some old affair with a porn star. National security is only in jeopardy because the Democrats wants to let everybody that wants to stay here illegally be here undetected. And if you’re so worried about Democracy why are the Democrats trying to get the Second Amendment repealed? President Trump obviously feels the FBI,CIA and other security agencies are still tied to the former regime and are not in his camp. Obama was never respectful of our military and police officers in this country and President Trump shows the utmost respect for both.

Mudstump

Jim - The FBI, CIA and other security agencies are not supposed to be in anyone's camp. Only a narcissistic know-nothing dictator would believe they owe him any personal allegiance. They don't pledge an oath to the president and it's alarming and downright insulting for him to think so.

Jim

It’s amazing to me that the Democrats hate one human being so bad that they are willing to disrupt a whole country over it.

Lulu

I never would have believed this country could deteriorate into a worldwide laughingstock.

tagup

There are a lot of republicans and independents that don’t think much of trump as well as democrats.... It’s disturbing that anyone can accept a dishonest, morally bankrupt, narcissist in the name of their political party.....the guy is lazy, doesn’t study the issues and is not intellectually curious about the people He supposedly represents......he does not represent the higher values that the United States has always stood for.....I personally have no respect for the “man”.

Bill B

Sorry you are disturbed Tagup! Are you really saying that the country was better off under Obama. The only thing he accomplished in my opinion was raising my health insurance rates.

Mudstump

Bill B - "Are you really saying that the country was better off under Obama. The only thing he accomplished in my opinion was raising my health insurance rates."

....if this is what you know about Obama's accomplishments....then you are getting your news from the wrong source and one that isn't giving you all the facts.

Jim

Bill B the only thing Obama ever did for me was make me turn off the TV and go outside to do something productive so I didn’t have to watch his distain for this Great Country in one of his speeches.

tagup

You might take a look at the economic situation that Obama inherited and the change that happened during his tenure.....

But maybe a fair assessment is to much to ask.....

tagup

So Bill... are you saying your party is more important than your country?..... You should run for Congress.....

tagup

Bottom line.... it’s really not about Obama’s anymore is it.....or maybe in trump’s mind it is.....

Bill B

Bottom line; IMHO it really doesn't matter who is president or their party. Economic cycles happen Tagup. The jury is still out, but it seems to me that this president is making a difference in a positive way for the most part whether its economics or world peace.

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