Our patron saint is Herodotus, the “Father of Fake News and Fake History,” who said of his own writing, “Hey, I’m just telling you what I’ve been told. It’s not fake if someone really said it.” We suspect he talked to himself a lot.
Speaking of people who talk to themselves a lot, I’ve been picturing Christopher Steele, the British former secret agent who compiled a dossier on President-elect Donald Trump. I imagine him on his bed in an inn somewhere in Paraguay, gazing into a mirror, saying, “The name is Steele. Christopher Steele.” I’m afraid the poor man is going to be alone a lot in the foreseeable future.
Steele’s document is so appropriate for the time and for its subject. Trump has been elected for peddling lies. He prosecutes private citizens by Twitter. What difference does it make if the dossier is substantiated? It’s descriptive of the type.
How can a man who let himself be recorded bragging about grabbing private parts and getting away with it be in the least bit outraged that people are willing to spread rumors to the effect that he pays to watch prostitutes soil beds? We’re just elaborating upon the legend that Trump began.
Trump has made his name so big for so long that his name doesn’t belong to him anymore. The name “Donald Trump” is a name of legend now. Like “King Arthur” or “Robin Hood,” “Donald Trump” is a name for the people to preserve in story after story, to be embellished upon for ages to come.
Trump can no longer be the name of a man or a corporation. Trump is now a name for a place in our very souls. A place deep within each of us that needs a name, so you can talk about it without having to look at it. Similar to that little Hannibal Lecter that lurks deep within all our hearts and private thoughts, if I’m not too guilty of generalizing.
The dossier doesn’t have to be true in the sense that Trump really made those deals or hired those prostitutes to do that; it only has to be true in the sense that fairies have wings, unicorns fart rainbows and Santa Claus brings presents to all the boys and girls who’ve been good whose parents have embraced Northern Euro-Christian culture to sufficient degree.
The dossier only has to be true insofar as it aids in the telling of the story that we want told. We the people choose the truth we want, and the stories only have to be true to the truths we have chosen.
Trump hasn’t figured this out yet. He thinks he still is in control of his own name and brand and truth. But he isn’t. He is no more in control of the name Trump than Bayer is in control of the name “aspirin.” We, the people, will be the ones who decide what Trump is from here on out, not Trump. He will be a story of our making.
Trump doesn’t get that if you want to be a god you have to accept the mythologizing that comes with the position. This is a problem that all would-be gods have starting out, and explains why they spend a lot of time railing at the press. It’s because they don’t realize that you can’t be the legend and at the same time be the legend’s author. The legend by definition is authored by the people.
The press hasn’t caught on yet, either.
Trump’s press conference last week was a disgrace, not because of the way Trump treated the CNN reporter, refusing to even hear the reporter’s question, calling the reporter “fake news.” It was a disgrace because the rest of the reporters didn’t stand up for their colleague and threaten to walk out.
This is the choice that’s going to have to be made over and over again as long as Trump is president. When Trump dismisses or attacks one of us, do we choose to be silent and hope he moves on and picks us to grant us respect, or do we challenge the attacker and refuse to cooperate with the bullying?
Will we stand together or let him pick us apart one by one?