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Topics We Aren't Allowed to Talk About

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AP Photo/ Evan Vucci

Throughout the impeachment drama, the press repeatedly told you that the president was a liar. They said his lies are why he had to be impeached. Donald Trump is a salesman; he is a talker, a booster, a compulsive self-promoter. If Trump hadn't gotten rich in real estate, then he could've made a fortune selling cars. Most people know this.


So is lying really the reason the left despises Trump? Or could the problem be, as is so often the case, the exact opposite of what they claim? What drives them completely crazy are those moments when Trump dares to tell the truth. Think back over the last four years to when the CNN anchors have been angriest. Was it when Trump exaggerated his own accomplishments? No. They are used to that kind of lying from all politicians. What infuriates them is when Trump tells the truth. Truth is the real threat to their power.

There is an unspoken agreement among the people in charge of our country not to talk about what has happened to it. They are personally implicated in its decline. Often they are profiting from it. The last thing they want is a national conversation about what went wrong. So they maintain an increasingly strict policy of mandatory reality avoidance. Everything is fine, they shout. Voices rising in hysteria. Shut up or we will hurt you.

Trump won't shut up. That is his crime; that is why they hate him. It started with his very first speech as a presidential candidate: "When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best. ... They're sending people that have lots of problems, and they're bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people."


Trump could have worded his statement more clearly, but he never claimed that everyone coming over the border is a criminal. But acknowledging that not every illegal immigrant improves America raises uncomfortable questions. If illegal immigration has a downside, then why has Washington allowed so much of it? If the people in charge actually cared, they would have tried harder to protect our borders. But Washington, for decades, has let millions of foreigners with no screening come across the border to use our services, often lower wages and in some cases, commit crimes. That is all true, which by definition made it unacceptable to say. The news anchors pretended that by saying it, Trump was somehow attacking defenseless Mexicans. Actually, he was attacking the gatekeepers in our national media. The people who should have been sounding the alarm about all of this, but instead made common cause with the ruling class they were supposed to be covering. Our system is rotten and corrupt, and the news media are a major reason for why that is. That is what Trump pointed out, and, not surprisingly, they despised him for doing it.

Lost in the haze of this was any meaningful discussion of those policies. A cynic might say that was by design, the whole point of the tantrum. It's certainly a theme in Washington. For example, after the killing of Saudi columnist Jamal Khashoggi, Trump said that while he disapproved of the murder, Saudi Arabia remained a U.S. ally. The president cited the $450 billion worth of Saudi investments in the United States as well as agreements to buy American military equipment. If we broke our alliance with them, he said, the U.S. economy would suffer and China and Russia would benefit instead. Now, whatever you think of the Saudis, what he said is true. This is the arrangement we have had with the Saudi kingdom for generations. Everyone in Washington knows that because a lot of them are on the Saudi payroll. Trump's crime was saying it out loud.


The same is true with his comments on Baltimore. Baltimore may be the most depressing big city on the eastern seaboard. Have you been there? Everyone in Washington has. If you want to take a train from Washington to New York, you have to pass through Baltimore. This summer, the president told the rest of the world what it's like. Baltimore, he said, is "rodent infested, not to mention a corrupt mess." Why is Baltimore so bad? How did it get so poor and hopeless? Part of the answer is 50 years of uninterrupted Democratic Party rule. But saying that would be embarrassing to the Democratic Party, so the party's apologists don't want to have the conversation. Instead, they attacked the man who tried to start it.

Baltimore remained dangerous, the kind of place where a kid gets shot riding his bike. That is what life is like for the poor people stuck in Baltimore, a place where MSNBC contributors don't dare to tread. The people in charge want to make certain you never think or talk about Baltimore. They also don't want any debate about the war in Afghanistan, immigration or declining middle-class life expectancy. Thinking or talking about any of this might point out our leaders' egregious failures. Whatever we do, we can't bring that up because it is embarrassing. So instead, let's just agree that Trump is a racist liar and move on. My gosh, what a bad person he is. Unlike us.


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