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Columnists

What Type of Liar Do You Prefer Your President Be?

Aside from the fact that they’re both pushing 80, can be brash and abrasive to their detractors, and have agreed on more policy issues than either side would care to admit – tariffs and withdrawal from Afghanistan, to name two – Presidents Donald Trump and Joe Biden couldn’t be more unalike.

Had there been no President Trump, there almost certainly never would have been a President Biden. And if Biden runs for reelection in 2024, he might be the Democrat with the best chance of beating Trump and the worst chance of beating any other Republican.

Most folks can agree, for better or for worse, that Biden is the Anti-trump.

Beyond that, the comparisons get sketchy. For instance, when folks say they much prefer Biden to Trump because Biden is honest and nice, I don’t know whether it is more appropriate to respond to such utter cluelessness with empathy or loud laughter.

During a recent White House visit by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, Biden admitted he was never arrested for trying to meet South Africa’s first president, Nelson Mandela, in 1976 when Mandela was in prison. Biden’s campaign backpedaled on that statement in 2020, when Biden made it on at least three different occasions, but the recent admission serves to remind not only that Biden lies, but has no qualms about doing so.

Lest we forget, in Biden’s first presidential bid, in 1988, his campaign faltered when numerous charges of plagiarism arose, from a copped speech of British politician Neil Kinnock to law school papers.

Biden’s also not a particularly nice guy. He’s not an awful guy, but he’s not especially nice – not even compared to other presidents, such as George W. Bush or Barack Obama.
In my 2020 book Trumped-Up Charges!, I debunked ten of the most commonly relayed falsehoods about Trump, not with mere words but with direct links to factual evidence. Of course, the overwhelming majority of voters never read it, and not all who did necessarily changed their minds. Moreover, just because those 10 accusations against Trump are unfounded doesn’t mean many others are.
Then, there’s Trump’s tone. The daily abrasive tweets. The pathological need to address just about every insult, elevating peons to a figurative debate stage with the president of the United States. There was an erratic, inconsistent message about COVID, and an absence of sportsmanship – and leadership – from Election Day 2020 up through Inauguration Day 2021.

Along with tens of millions of other Trump supporters, I didn’t see those flaws as enough to cancel out all of the good he did on jobs, manufacturing, upward mobility for women and persons of color, obliteration of terrorist organizations, keeping Russia in check militarily and China economically, etc. But I understand that tens of millions of other Americans see it the other way around, that Trump’s liabilities outnumbered his assets, perhaps by a tremendous margin. And if that’s why they voted for Biden, fine. But don’t pretend that he’s honest and nice.
It’s extremely easy to call any president a liar, because critics have no shame. They’ll take any statement that history later exposes as false (Bush: “Saddam Hussein is making weapons of mass destruction”; Obama: “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor…”) and call the president a liar for making it.

Trump is the quintessential serial denier and serial exaggerator. He’ll say “mom, I didn’t eat that chocolate cake that’s no longer on the kitchen table where you left it” even as he has remnants of chocolate frosting all over this face. As for exaggerating, he even admitted to us in his book The Art of the Deal that he’d embellish a story to make it more interesting. Everything is the “most beautiful” “most amazing” and “biggest ever” with him.
Biden predicated his entire 2020 campaign on a lie: that Trump called White Supremacists on the March in Charlottesville “very fine people,” when the evidence is overwhelmingly clear that he said there are “very fine people on both sides” of the debate of whether Confederate statues should be preserved as they are an accurate reflection of history, or taken down because they bear a painful reminder of our tarnished past. That’s Chapter 5 of my book, by the way.
I don’t buy the “Biden is senile” narrative. He’s slowed down but he’s still smart enough to discern fact from fiction, and he was counting on enough Americans believing him, and believing his feigned outrage, which he purports was the catalyst to his entering the race. It’s very hard to take seriously remarks about decency from a person guilty of decades-long documented deception.
It’s all about what type of liar Americans abhor the least, because, sadly, it often comes down to the lesser of two fibbers. Just as some Americans were more nauseated when President Clinton bit his lower lip to project concern than when the younger Bush pursed his lips in a perpetual smirk, while for others it was the exact opposite.

Perhaps some folks can’t see flaws in the successor to a president they detested because they can’t bear to see them. Those who believed Trump to be the rudest person in the world and who were intensely bothered by it, couldn’t see that Biden bullied critics in the audience at his campaign appearances by getting in their face. They only saw him as Mister Rogers.

Again, if you like Biden’s tone better, think he’s more ‘presidential’, like that he’s gotten infrastructure and climate change legislation passed, and think he’s more respected around the world than Trump was, that’s fine. But don’t tell me he’s honest and nice.

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