August 8, 2016

Fareed Zakaria explained in detail, with examples, all of the reasons he called Donald Trump a bullshit artist.

From the transcript:

But first here's my take. Earlier this week I was asked on CNN to make sense of one more case in which Donald Trump had said something demonstrably false and then explain it away with a caustic tweet and an indignant interview.

I replied that there was a pattern here and a term for a person who did this kind of thing. A bullshit artist. I was not using that label casually and in case you have sensitive ears I'm going to use it a few more times.

Trump is many things, some of them dark and dangerous, but at his core, he is BS artist. Harry Frankfurt, an eminent moral philosopher, wrote a brilliant essay in 1986 called "On Bullshit." Frankfurt himself wrote about Trump in this vein in "TIME" as have Jeet Heer and Eldar Sarajlic. Frankfurt distinguishes crucially between lies and BS. "Telling a lie is an act with a sharp focus. It is designed to insert a particular falsehood at a specific point. In order to invent a lie at all, the teller of a lie must think he knows what is true. But someone engaging in BS," Frankfurt explains, "is neither on the side of the true nor on the side of the false, his eyes not on the facts at all."

Frankfurt writes that the BS's focus is panoramic, rather than particular. And has more spacious opportunities for improvisation, color and imaginative play. This is less a matter of craft than of art. Hence the familiar notion of the "bullshit artist," he writes.

This has been Donald Trump's mode all his life. He boasts, and boasts, and boasts about his business, his buildings, his books, his wives, much of it is a concoction of hyperbole and falsehood. And when he's found out he's like that guy we have all met making wild claims at the bar who, when confronted with the truth, quickly responds, I knew that.

Now go read this absolutely devastating Kurt Eichenwald article showing how utterly terrible Trump has been as a businessman. It all fits together.

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