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Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Exaggerations, Confabulations, And Tall Tales–Why Donald Trump Will Win In November

Willard Randall had never been able to stick to the truth.  Whenever he told  a story, he added some embroidery – some bits that could very well have happened but never did.  His filigree and trim did not amount to lies.  They were like extra frosting on a birthday cake, swirls and dabs to add a bit of fancy.  When female impersonator Albert promises his partner Armand (The Birdcage) that he will dress straight and proper to meet the parents of Armand’s son’s fiancée, he appears in a dark suit, white shirt, plain tie, cordovans, and bright pink socks.  “Well”, he says coquettishly, “one does want a hint of color”.

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It was like that for Willard, a bit of color on a simple blue background, a ribbon here and a sconce there, nothing baroque or tacky but anything to relieve the boredom of plainness and drudgery.  His stories always started off simply enough, like the one about Uncle Harry and his time with the British Army fighting the Japanese in Burma.  Harry had often recounted the story himself – crawling through malarial jungles, leech-invested swamps, and impossibly tangled tropical undergrowth – but it was all about strategy, guerrilla warfare, and an implacable enemy.  

Retold by Willard it was a story of bravery, heroism, and glory which had nothing to do with the actual slogging, dutiful, crawl in the Mandalay jungle to relieve the embattled avant-garde.  In Willard’s tale Harry was a valorous knight on a white charger, braving the withering fire from enemy encampments, running through snake pits to rescue fallen comrades, and killing scores of Japanese.  His stories about Great Grandfather Ezekiel who was the founder of a modest dry goods chain in Ohio after the Civil War were not those of an immigrant who had taken his meager savings and bought a ramshackle store in Bolivar, but of a captain of industry, an entrepreneur who was at the forefront of American capitalist exuberance.

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Willard was so compelling as a storyteller, so enthusiastic and passionate about his characters and his tale, than no one ever called him on his obviously fanciful gilding.  What was a a bit of gold stitching around an honest tale of family heroes?  Once he got going, there was no stopping him, nor was there any limit to his magnificent tapestries.  It was the story which mattered; and as long as there was a kernel of undeniable truth at the center no amount of fictional tailoring could ever diminish its importance.  So Willard crafted amazing tales of love, challenge, and heralded success, and his relatives loved him for it.

Willard’s rhetorical excesses were a plus in the courtroom, and he became the go-to defender of Brighton, Katz, and Emory, the lawyer who had never lost a case, the attorney of lost causes, and the poster boy for the Legal Defense Fund.   His oratory was worthy of William Jennings Bryan and Clarence Darrow.  He was masterful in his recall of the essential, few facts of the cases he defended, but brilliant in his powerful, evocative, and ultimately persuasive ancillary arguments.  Before Willard had come to his summary statements, he had already won over judge and jury – all of whom had forgotten the logical structure of Willard’s argument but who remembered the impassioned, righteous claim to justice.

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Because of such dexterity Willard was able to create himself again and again.  His pursuit of Greta Mavis Oloffson, granddaughter of the founder of the great Victorian hotel in Port-au-Prince, European model, and heiress with whom he had spent many happy hours in the Graham Greene Suite was a favorite among his friends who listened to his tales with jealousy and awe.  Despite their doubts, they wanted to believe that she was indeed a sought after, wealthy, and titled European beauty.  Even if they would never squire anyone more exotic than Christa from Accounting, Willard made it seem possible; and therein lay Willard’s key to success.  People wanted to believe his stories.  As long as there was that famous kernel of truth – that central bit of believability that was the sine qua non of fanciful tales, the necessary fulcrum around which any fine material could be woven, he was home free, unsuspected and admired. 

Deceiving his wife about his dalliances was a piece of cake for Willard.  Despite his by now well-known reputation for tall, amusing, and engaging tales, his wife never assumed that such fancy would come between them.  His late nights at the office, long weekends of work, and unexpected trips to St. Louis were never questioned.  He was very much like a circus high-wire performer, balanced precariously high above the sawdust and crowds, teetering this way and that but walking the fine line between falling this way or that. He was a consummate performer who knew his audience, who knew himself, and who knew that there was no end to the delight people took in his high wire act.

Occasionally someone would call him out, fact-check him, and try to corner him; but, Houdini that he was, there was no corner which could hold him.  He could talk his way out of anything and everything and do it with such confidence and ease that even those who doubted him most ended up believing in and championing him.

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All of which is to say that facts don’t amount to a hill of beans and that most of us would prefer a tall tale.  Facts and figures are for eye-shaded accountants, lonely hearts, and geeks.  As long as there was a worm of truth in the tall tale, whether told by evangelists, politicians, or activists, most people would swallow the bait hook, line, and sinker.

Everyone except the frantic and fanatic Left understands Donald Trump, the most masterful showman, circus performer, and vaudevillian Washington has ever seen.  His supporters delight in his outrageous tweets, his impatience with self-absorbed reporters, his bombast and braggadocio because of the kernel of truth.  He, like Ronald Reagan before him, insisted on a few, basic, unalloyed principles of conservatism.  He would roll back the insanity of political correctness, restore religious freedom, secure national borders, free private enterprise from onerous and oppressive regulation, and stand up to international economic and political bullies; and everyone understood this.  Whatever side-show titillation, three-ring circus marvels, Las Vegas glitz, and Hollywood glamour, the ‘truth’ was evident and there to see by all.

No one at Aunt Mary’s Easter table ever cared if Uncle Harry actually single-handedly killed nests of crazed Japs in the Burmese jungle or whether he had indeed bedded the likes of Greta Oloffson, or loved her in the exotic suites of her great-grandfather’s hotel.  He could have, and that’s all that mattered.  And no one cares if Donald Trump will actually build a border wall or clear the country of illegal immigrants.  It is his intention to get serious about illegal immigration, and anything other than that is Christmas wrapping, tinsel, and ribbon candy.

If Donald Trump has been the most outrageously vaudevillian president, the progressive cabals that run the Democratic party have been the most humorless, sanctimonious, and hilarious opposition ever.  Only they and their lackeys take themselves seriously.  Whether or not this ‘truth’ will be exposed before election time is impossible to gauge.  The radical Left is doing its utmost to create its own narrative and has been delighted in the street demonstrations which have lit up their shopworn ideas.  They do not have to rail against racism, police brutality, and capitalism – BLM and Antifa have done it for them.

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Meanwhile, you ain’t seen nothing yet.  Once Trump gets up a full head of steam, he will be unstoppable and at his outrageous best.  There is no way that Bunker Joe can stand up to him, and no way that his conservative, populist juggernaut can be stopped once it starts rolling.

Willard’s family, friends, and colleagues – and Trump supporters– have delighted in their heroes’ wonderful, fanciful, confabulations.   ‘We are all adults here’ goes the current conservative meme of those who object to lockdowns, nanny states, and intrusive government; and so it is for Easter dinner and the November election.  Most people will see the kernels of truth, love but disregard the bombast, and vote for sound conservative principles.

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