Saturday, February 04, 2017

Gaslighter In Chief

Aberdeen Times:

Hi! I’m J.D. Rhoades, and I’ll be (hopefully) entertaining you here at the Aberdeen Times every Sunday. Some of you may know me and my work already, some may not. If you don’t, let me tell you a little bit about myself.
I was born and raised here in the Sandhills, and I’m the result of a one night stand between then-president John F. Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe, who JFK snuck down and stashed for an evening of romance at the old Charlton Motel on U.S. Highway 1. After Ms. Monroe delivered me at the old Moore Memorial Hospital, I was raised by a kindly pharmacist and his beautiful wife until the age of 12, where my inherent genius was noticed by Harvard University, who arranged for my entry on a full scholarship. I graduated Harvard in two years and completed Yale Law School in one. Since my graduation and admission to the bars of seven states, I’ve made a living arguing cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. At one point, my brief in a case involving a water rights dispute between Nevada and Colorado actually reduced Justice William Brennan to tears. “It’s so beautiful,” he sobbed. In my spare time I’ve amused myself by writing several New York Times bestsellers, two of which have been nominated for both the Nobel and Pulitzer prizes.
What’s that you say? That sounds like a pack of outrageous and easily refuted lies? Pshaw. That’s pre-Donald Trump thinking. As of January 20th, we live in the world of “alternative facts.” That’s the term Trump spokesgoblin Kellyanne Conway used when NBC’s Chuck Todd used his newly acquired backbone to point out that claims by press secretary Sean Spicer that the turnout for President Tweety’s inauguration was “the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration — period” were refuted by photographs, counts by the DC Metro system of people traveling into DC, and pretty much every source connected with objective reality. The claims were, in fact, lies.
But Ms. Conway scoffed at any suggestion of the “l” word. Don’t be so dramatic, she chided Todd. Spicer had “alternative facts.”
Now, the rest of us don’t get to claim the use of “alternative facts.” If I get popped by the Highway Patrol for going 75 miles per hour in a 35 mile an hour school zone, I don’t get to stand in court and say “The alternative facts, your honor, are that I was driving a perfectly legal speed, and besides, I was actually on the German Autobahn.” If I come home at 3 AM stinking of rum and cigarettes and covered in stripper glitter, I don’t get to claim “alternative facts” that it’s only 9 PM, that smell is chamomile tea, and I’ve been at Bible study.
The Trump camp’s tactic very closely resembles a sinister game played in interpersonal relationships known as “gaslighting.” It’s named for the classic 1944 suspense film “Gas Light” in which Charles Boyer attempts to convince his spouse, played by Ingrid Bergman, that she’s going insane.

 A number of odd things happen (such as the sudden random dimming of the gas lighting in their home), which Boyer insists to Bergman are all figments of her imagination. Gaslighting is a favorite tactic of sociopaths and spousal abusers, who’ll try to create “alternative facts” (“I didn’t hit you, I never threatened you, you’re making it up because you’re crazy”) to keep their victims off-balance and in line.
You have to wonder how many times Donald Trump has seen that movie, because he seems to be basing a lot of his communication strategy around it:

• “I never mocked a disabled reporter, you’re making it up because you’re trying to discredit me.”
• “Three to five million people voted illegally. Everybody knows it. You know it. You don’t need evidence. You’re just denying it because you’re partisan.”
• “I never compared the intelligence services to Nazis. I love the intelligence services. You’re just saying otherwise for political gain.”
• “I had the biggest inaugural turnout ever. Who are you going to believe, me or your lyin’ eyes?”
The wingnuts spent years falsely dubbing Barack Obama “Liar in Chief”. So who do they elect to replace him? A man who, along with his henchpeople, will lie to your face about things that can be easily disproved, then call you crazy or partisan for standing up for reality. Donald Trump has become, in the space of one short week, America’s Gaslighter in Chief.