Out of the Blue: Alternative facts should have U.S. up in arms (opinion)
Out of the Blue
First and foremost: Godzilla is real, he’s a friend of mine. (It’ll make sense in a minute, I promise.)
We have entered a new era. Donald Trump has taken the oath of office, and as a country we officially live in a Trump world. The transition of power progressed smoothly and without hiccup, and there were multiple parades and events lauding our new leader that went off without bloodshed or major complication. It could have been worse.
That being said, if every administration begins with its own unique narrative, this one instigated by DJT is straight out of a political nightmare, one that George Orwell warned us about in the 1940s. I could choose twenty random quotes of his to cite — let’s go with this one: “Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”
Over the weekend, there was pushback from DJT’s team about public response to the size and girth of his inauguration ceremony. President Obama’s swearing-in in 2009 was an exceptionally popular event, crowding the expanses of the capitol. But DJT’s hand-on-bible moment needed to be HUGE, much bigger than the one staged by that Kenyan guy leaving office.
So even though anyone who cared could witness it with her/his own eyes, DJT went on the record saying that “it looked honestly like a million and a half people” from his place at the center of attention and that “it went all the way back to the Washington Monument”, in reference to his extraordinary inauguration turnout.
Here’s the thing — there are ways to approach this. This writer, for one, does not know what it’s like to be on a stage with a million and a half people looking at him, so if I were in DJT’s shoes, I might say that it “seemed” like that many people were there.
Maybe I “didn’t know exactly how many people were there, but the enthusiasm of those involved had me thinking I was surrounded by a billion supporters.” These permutations are all viable responses to a notable event.
But instead of sticking to logic, our Razzie-Winner-in-charge had White House spokesman Sean Spicer stage a press conference soon after the event in which he said: “This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe.”
And in response to those of us questioning such a lie: “These attempts to lessen the enthusiasm of the inauguration are shameful and wrong.”
Politicians have a long and varied history of offering up half-truths and roundabout evasions of simple statements, but even with an issue this petty, it’s time to be alarmed. I don’t care whether this year’s inauguration broke records.
I recognize the pageantry and the pomp and circumstance that comes with naming a new president, but these are divided times — the popularity contest decided by this latest election was going to see its victor met with a majority of grunts regardless of who won the title.
But, dear readers, our new administration — in its first 48 hours — actively and unabashedly told us an untruth. The government lied to us.
And these poor souls even doubled down on it. When Meet The Press asked advisor Kellyanne Conway about these lies and why DJT insisted upon them: “You’re saying it’s a falsehood. Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternate facts.”
A government offering “alternate facts” should have us all up in arms, people. Theories and ideas are things we can banter about, they’re concepts that thrive on discussion and mutual challenging.
An “alternate fact” is me stating the world is flat, that cancer doesn’t exist, that the wheel has never been invented.
Maybe it’s nothing, just a dumb, dumb choice of words from folks who had hoped their welcome into seats of power was met with more aplomb and revery. What we the people got, however, were blatant lies. Lies. Statements thoroughly considered and repeated that were categorically untrue.
So let me circle back around to a pair of statements that are equally valid in eyes of our current United States government:
1: “This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe.” — Sean Spicer, White House spokesman
2: “Godzilla is real, he’s a friend of mine.” — Mike Restaino, Incline Village Idiot.
Mike Restaino is a writer and filmmaker based out of Incline Village. He is also a Vice Chair of the North Tahoe Democrats. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.