Wrong: a modest trumpposal

Some­thing occurred to me late in the 2016 pres­i­den­tial race.1 Every­body was like “this guy lies and nev­er faces con­se­quences,” but was going about it in pret­ty much the least effec­tive way possible.

I’m sure folks who hold this opin­ion were well-meaning, but they seemed to be com­ing from a time where being caught lying is the worst thing a pub­lic offi­cial can do. Slimy politi­cians are sup­posed to, what, recoil with shame, mum­ble an apol­o­gy and exit the spotlight?

That’s obvi­ous­ly not the play­book now, and it should have been clear to any­one even a lit­tle awake in 2016. So can I just pro­pose some slick new lan­guage for describ­ing a case where a pub­lic state­ment does­n’t quite match up with reality?

You don’t call it “inac­cu­rate” or “unfac­tu­al.” We’re all very impressed that you went to college.

You don’t call it “lying” because that’s what 4D-chess-playing busi­ness­men do when they nego­ti­ate, I guess.

The word you’re look­ing for is “wrong.” They’re wrong, you say they’re wrong.

Wrong helps keep a record. It clas­si­fies the state­ment into a clear cat­e­go­ry, help­ing rein­force objec­tive real­i­ty in a time where it’s needed.

Wrong is, at the same time, a lit­tle soft and assumes the best inten­tions. Swing and a miss. Good hus­tle out there, lit­tle bud­dy — you can’t hit ’em all. 

Wrong is, most impor­tant­ly, uni­ver­sal. You could be a mid­dle school dropout and remem­ber the feel­ing from, I don’t know, mul­ti­pli­ca­tion tables or some­thing. Being wrong isn’t game-over, but each wrong stings a little.

At some point, if any­one’s actu­al­ly keep­ing score, con­sis­tent wrong­ness writ large in head­lines for years on end makes a case for mal­prac­tice. And who the fuck would tie up their iden­ti­ty sup­port­ing some­body who’s just so loud­ly and con­sis­tent­ly wrong, in pub­lic, all the time?

  1. I know, I’m sor­ry I kept this to myself.