Daniel Malloy over at OZY asks the question, “Is Trump too honest to be an effective diplomat?” It’s actually an intriguing question. But, I’m not altogether sure that it’s his honesty that hinders him.
First, let’s be blunt, he’s fundamentally not an honest guy. His team might say he just “spins.” But he’s frequently so far into the world of alternate truth that spin itself is a fiction. It’s more like he dissembles or perhaps obfuscates or maybe misdirects or redirects.
Let’s look at a recent faux pas (yes I chose French intentionally- you know what’s coming). Trump, a guest of the French government for a Bastille Day celebration comments about Brigitte Macron “You’re in such good shape. She’s in such good physical shape. Beautiful.” In this country we simply accept that Trump is a philandering, misogynistic Neanderthal (see here, here, or here). But now he’s on the international stage so the whole world gets to see this stunted adolescent behavior. Was this honesty? Sure Ms. Macron is attractive. But it’s irrelevant isn’t it? He’s not honest- he’s a tactless boor.
Let’s look specifically at his lies, half-truths, mis-speaks. It’s a field day over at the NY Times where recently an Op-Ed compiled all of the ones that are known. Earlier this year Maria Konnikova at Politico noted the impressive ease with which Trump lies and went on to say:
A whopping 70 percent of Trump’s statements that PolitiFact checked during the campaign were false, while only 4 percent were completely true, and 11 percent mostly true. (Compare that to the politician Trump dubbed “crooked,” Hillary Clinton: Just 26 percent of her statements were deemed false.)
Those who have followed Trump’s career say his lying isn’t just a tactic, but an ingrained habit. New York tabloid writers who covered Trump as a mogul on the rise in the 1980s and ’90s found him categorically different from the other self-promoting celebrities in just how often, and pointlessly, he would lie to them.
This just scratches the surface. So I think I have to conclude that Trump isn’t too honest to be a good diplomat. He’s blunt and crude. Not honest. He’s inappropriate. Not honest. He lies with greater ease than the remainder of the American population breathes- and he likes it.
He’s a lot of things but honest is not on the list.