Joseph Sabino Mistick: Seeing and hearing Trump is believing
“What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening,” said Donald Trump at the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Kansas City last week.
Telling folks to ignore what their eyes and ears are telling them is a weird instruction. When there is no other explanation for what you say and do, the only escape from the hold that reality asserts on us must be the insistence that reality does not exist.
This is an old trick. It could have been pulled directly from George Orwell’s “1984.” The twitter-sphere jumped on Trump’s remarks immediately, tweeting Orwell’s line, “The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.”
In achieving this objective, misdirection always helps. And the more outrageous the distractions the better.
What sounded like an unhinged threat to Iran took up a couple of days of news coverage last week. After another weekend at his New Jersey golf resort, Trump tweeted an all-caps threat to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, one that was sure to be an attention-getter.
“NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE.”
Later in the week, the newsies had wall-to-wall coverage of Trump’s threat to revoke the security clearances of retired intelligence officials who regularly criticize him. Most no longer have the security clearances that he threatened to revoke, but the morning shows talked about little else.
And, since the Michael Cohen tapes, so far, include no Nixonian “smoking gun” that proves criminal activity by a sitting president, network time spent on the tapes would be better spent on the things that Trump really does not want us to talk about or believe.
We all saw the Trump administration policy that separated children from their parents at our border, cleaving families that are desperate for sanctuary. It was an evil idea, poorly executed and eventually abandoned.
But hundreds of families still have not been reunited, and some children may become permanent orphans. There is no disputing what you have seen and read about this policy, a practice so flawed that the only possible explanation may be to change the subject.
Your eyes were spot-on if you saw Trump fawning over Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. And, if you heard Trump take Russia’s side over our own intelligence agencies regarding Russian interference in our presidential election, your ears were working perfectly, too.
If you have seen the anxious looks on the faces of farmers and auto workers as they face the prospect of financial ruin from Trump’s self-declared tariff war, your vision is perfect. And, if you hear fear in their voices as they wonder aloud about the future, your hearing is crystal clear.
So, fellow citizens (especially news directors), ignore the distractions. And regardless of your politics, do not be duped into thinking that reality is unreal. Your eyes and ears do not lie, and what you are seeing and hearing is really happening.
Joseph Sabino Mistick is a Pittsburgh lawyer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.