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Is Donald Trump just a garden variety pathological liar? Or is the president-elect the most prolific practitioner of "the big lie" since Joe McCarthy?

Donald Trump Lies

Trump Truth-Twisting: Pathological or 'The Big Lie?'—Berry Craig

Darned if I can decide.

Anyway, Trump’s latest fudge is a tweet in which he said he helped stop Ford from outsourcing production and union jobs from Louisville to Mexico: “I worked hard with Bill Ford to keep the Lincoln plant in Kentucky. I owed it to the great State of Kentucky for their confidence in me!”

The Bluegrass State went big for Trump. But he didn’t keep Ford from doing anything.

The Washington Post, New York Times and a slew of other print and broadcast media sources called Trump’s hand.

"Ford has never announced plans to move to Mexico either its Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville, which produces the Lincoln Navigator, or the Louisville Assembly Plant, which produces the Lincoln MKC and the Ford Escape,” wrote the Post’s Jim Tankersley.

He added, "In a statement on Thursday night, following Trump's tweet, the company said it had told Trump it would cancel a plan to shift production of a single model — the MKC — from Kentucky to Mexico. The company last year indicated it would be moving MKC production out of Louisville, though it did not announce where it was going. At the time, union leaders said the shift would not cost any jobs in Kentucky, because Escape production would replace lost MKC production." (Production workers at the Ford plants belong to United Auto Workers Local 862.)

Tankersley also wrote that "this isn't the first time Trump has misstated facts about a Ford move. In October 2015, he tweeted that the company had halted plans to build a factory in Mexico and would locate in Ohio instead, and he claimed credit for the decision. The company said he was wrong, and that it was continuing to build its plant in Mexico."

The next president, according to Tankersley, "appeared to be relying on information gleaned from an article posted on a website of a shop that sells business cards and door hangers."

At least Trump is a consistent truth-twister. His fibs range from the vapid—like taking credit for "saving" Ford jobs in the Falls City—to venal—like linking Sen. Ted Cruz's father to the Kennedy assassination.

"President-elect Donald J. Trump claimed credit on Thursday night for persuading Ford to keep an automaking plant in Kentucky rather than moving it to Mexico," wrote Binyamin Applebaum of the Times. "The only wrinkle: Ford was not actually planning to move the plant."

At least Trump is a consistent truth-twister. His fibs range from the vapid—like taking credit for "saving" Ford jobs in the Falls City—to venal—like linking Sen. Ted Cruz's father to the Kennedy assassination.

“Scope of Trump's falsehoods unprecedented for a modern presidential candidate,” declared a headline that topped a Los Angeles Times story in September.

“Never in modern presidential politics has a major candidate made false statements as routinely as Trump has,” wrote the paper’s Michael Finnegan. "Over and over, independent researchers have examined what the Republican nominee says and concluded it was not the truth—but 'pants on fire' (PolitiFact) or 'four Pinocchios' (Washington Post Fact Checker)."

PolitiFact gave Trump its "2015 Lie of the Year" award. "In considering our annual Lie of the Year, we found our only real contenders were Trump’s—his various statements also led our Readers’ Poll," the website explained. "But it was hard to single one out from the others. So we have rolled them into one big trophy."

Okay, we know Trump is a serial prevaricator. But what makes him do it?

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Psychiatrists can’t agree on a consensus definition of “pathological liar,” according to the Psychiatric Times website.

“PL is characterized by a long history (maybe lifelong) of frequent and repeated lying for which no apparent psychological motive or external benefit can be discerned,” the website says. “While ordinary lies are goal-directed and are told to obtain external benefit or to avoid punishment, pathological lies often appear purposeless. In some cases, they might be self-incriminating or damaging, which makes the behavior even more incomprehensible.”

Now, I’m starting to understand—or maybe not.

On the one hand, Trump’s fibs seem purposeful. He wants to make himself look good. On the other hand, his whoppers are so patently false that they are “self-incriminating.” As such, they should be politically “damaging.” But he won the election.

Hence, I’m at least leaning toward the "big lie" as his M.O. The theory holds that the more brazen the lie, the more apt people are to believe it.

Adolf Hitler coined the term “big lie”—große Lüge. Hitler believed that if you told a lie so "colossal," nobody would fathom that you “could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously." (Some of Trump's supporters shouted another Nazi term—Lügenpresse—at reporters covering a Trump rally. It means "lying press.")

Hold on, Trump partisans. Don’t pop a fuse or blow a gasket. I’m not for a nanosecond saying your hero is an American Hitler, though your fellow fans include neo-Nazis.

Still, McCarthy and Trump make for a good comparison.

In the 1950s, McCarthy, a conservative Wisconsin Republican senator, charged, without evidence, that the government was rife with Reds. President Harry Truman, a Democrat, accused McCarthy of using “the big lie.”

Ultimately, McCarthy and his Second Great Scare were disgraced, and the Senate censured him. The term “McCarthyism” became a synonym for demagoguery. It came to mean the spreading of reckless and vicious lies and false innuendoes about people to discredit them or to stifle political criticism.

Examples in Trump’s campaign are not hard to find. He called Clinton "crooked Hillary" at his rallies and egged on chants of "Lock her up!" He provided no proof that she was guilty of anything.

He baselessly insinuated that a photograph published by the National Enquirer—a rag fit only to line birdcage bottoms—showed Rafael Cruz with “crazy Lee Harvey Oswald having breakfast.”

Trump's neo-McCarthyism, his rank demagoguery and his non-stop dissembling would have sunk just about any other candidate. Pathological or purposeful, his lies didn’t keep him from landing on the White House doorstep.

But here's another puzzler: Did he win because—or in spite of—his mountain of misrepresentations? I confess I'm stumped.

[dc]"I[/dc] could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn't lose voters," Trump did say at a campaign rally.

Berry Craig

Nor did Trump torpedo himself by repeatedly ignoring the Almighty's pretty straightforward admonition, "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour." That's called the Ninth Commandment in Trump's Presbyterian Church.

 Berry Craig III