Here I am blogging yet again about Donald Trump’s mendacity, but the guy really is remarkable. Speaking to assembled troops in Iraq, Trump claimed to have given them a whopping 10% raise. The president recounted how he generously over-ruled the grinches: “They said: ‘You know, we could make it smaller’…[but] I said: ‘No. Make it 10 percent. Make it more than 10 percent.’ ”

In fact US military personnel have gotten no such raise. None is planned. Trump just made it up. The “they said…I said…” story is apparently pure fiction.   It sort of recalls Trump’s promise, just before the midterms, of a 10% middle class tax cut. That, too, was sheer fabrication; it came out of nowhere and went nowhere. (I guess Trump likes the number 10%.)

Now, the troops know, of course, that they have not received such a raise. If they inferred that one is coming, they will soon realize that it is not. So, why lie to the faces of a group of people who know, or will soon know, that what you are saying is false? Once again the question of characterizing Trumpian falsehoods is posed: mendacity or delusion? Trump emits falsehoods routinely, shamelessly. Sometimes, as I have shown, it is clear that Trump must know he’s lying. But when the falsehood is so readily refuted that it seems that it must be self-defeating, we have to consider an alternative possibility: that Trump is capable at any moment of constructing and believing an alternative reality for himself in which anything he says is true. In such cases, Trump is a self-delusionist rather than a liar. (I’m not a clinician.  I’ve also used the term “delusional fantasist.” Can any psychologist readers suggest a technically correct term?)

Needless to say, it is very bad when the President of the United States is an habitual liar. Trump’s mendacity debases public discourse in this country, helping to obliterate the commonly understood line people draw between truth and falsehood. But his delusional fantasm is no less a matter of concern. The President of the United States should have a pretty good grasp of reality. If the most powerful man in the world is capable of detaching himself from reality, entering a fantasy world of his own creation whenever it pleases him, we are all in serious trouble.




  1. cbo December 28, 2018 at 10:09 pm

    Trump’s remarks are perhaps best seen as performance. There’s no necessary relationship to truth. The comments serve his purpose because they evoke a positive response in his audience. The audience is part of the show, and respond as if his statements are true. Question is why. Is this a Trumpian catechism? They reinforce the general idea that Trump is great- the truth or falsity of the specifics does not matter

    • tonygreco December 28, 2018 at 10:21 pm

      Interesting–a plausible alternative to the delusional fantasist interpretation. If it’s all understood as performance, it’s not delusional, but it’s also not “really” mendacity, since the truth is irrelevant.

  2. Jeffrey Herrmann December 29, 2018 at 3:28 am

    Does BLOTUS (Biggest Liar Of The US) only lie, or does he often believe the alternative facts of his tRump l’oeil reality?
    I think he is often delusional. And that means he ticks all the boxes of a malignant narcissist:
    1. Narcissistic personality disorder. Check
    2. Sociopathy. Check
    3. Paranoia. Check
    4. Delusional. Check
    What will it take before the Repugnicans in the House and Senate decide he has to go?
    The performance aspect of his lying is a technique of expoitation — an element of narcissitic personality disorder. But in addition to Hair Twittler’s performances, I think there are the bona fide instances of delusional thinking, e.g.:

    God made the clouds part and the sun shine just as he began his innaugural address
    A caravan harboring Islamic terrorists was crossing Mexico to invade the US
    He convinced Kim Jong-un to give up his nuclear weapons
    Paul Manafort is a great guy who is being unjustly persecuted
    Robert Mueller is engaged in a witch hunt againt tRump

    There is a ring of sincerity in his voice and tweets when he bleats these obvious falsehoods. That’s why I come down on the side of delusional.

    • tonygreco December 29, 2018 at 10:39 am

      I now think it’s a mixture of self-delusion, performance, and straight-out mendacity.

  3. Donald Campbell December 29, 2018 at 10:53 am

    From the little I’ve seen of Fox News and the some policy positions of Republicans (denial of global warming, Obama’s not a citizen, immigrants are a siphon on our social services and etc.) mendacity is not new in American politics, it’s just that Trump carries it to a new level.

    This alternate reality constructed by relentless propaganda by the extreme right wing is really necessary if they are to have a chance to implement their agenda. The right wing policy positions are not popular, but they do have some tacit support from some democrats, who because of they way we finance campaigns, will not fight for things like ‘Medicare-for-all’ and gun control which to the mind of many progressives are necessary.

    Until we have public financing of campaigns and get all but small contributions out of politics the assault upon reason (i.e. the enlightenment) will continue relentlessly. Even if progressives win elections their attempts at reform will be stymied until some common sense reforms are made.

    • tonygreco December 29, 2018 at 3:02 pm

      Yes, a good deal of mendacity has unfortunately been normalized in our politics, and Trump’s extraordinary mendacity contributes critically to this normalization.

    • Ginny Hoffmann December 30, 2018 at 12:56 am

      Right. Campaign finance reform and the overturning of the disastrous citizans united ruling are a prerequisite for recovery. Republicans will only step up and condemn Trump when his base turns against him. What that will take is unknown, as there are elements of his base who would follow the crazy tyrant into Hell.

      Delusion, lying or performing to get good “ratings”, it all comes down to the same thing-Trump is ruining the country, our reputation in the world, and the environment, all to please his “basket of deplorables” in this deplorable “post-truth” world.

      If there is any justice in the world, Trump will choke on….oh nevermind, there is no justice in the world right now. Robert Mueller, hurry it up please!

Have a comment?

Required fields are marked (*)