Trump and Clinton: offensive versus defensive

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Alhtough it’s a few weeks ago, I just read this WaPo story that purports to explain why Hillary Clinton’s lies are less palatable than Donald Trump’s:

Clinton’s deceptions tend to be defensive — her reputation is under attack and she’s trying to save face. As determined by PolitiFact, a political fact-checking service, her false statements often come in response to scandals and allegations against her. For instance, with regard to her private email server, she has said she “never received nor sent any material that was marked as classified” and that the server “was allowed” at the time. Both proved false.

Trump’s deceptions, by contrast, are more on the offensive, more self-promotional. He exaggerates his successes in the business world. He called his book “The Art of the Deal” the “best-selling business book of all time.” It’s not, according to PolitiFact.

And he creates allegations against his political opponents and minority groups out of thin air, making himself appear better by comparison. Among his false statements, according to PolitiFact: Hillary Clinton “invented ISIS,” even though the group predates Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state. The United States is allowing “tens of thousands” of “vicious, violent” Muslim terrorists into the country every year. This attempt to justify his ban on Muslim immigration was also found false.

That distinction between Clinton and Trump — offensive vs. defensive — has major implications for whether people view their lies as “legitimate” and morally acceptable, according to Matthew Gingo, a psychology professor at Wheaton College.

“Me lying to get myself out of trouble is not nearly as bad as me lying to get someone else in trouble,” Gingo said. “People view defense as more legitimate, such as physical self-defense.”

“People” might, but not the “people” in political journalism, who aren’t people so much as toadies for campaigns; note how guests on the Sunday morning shows doe the job of the stinking carcass known as the GOP establishment by lamenting how Trump’s excretions last week kept him from attacking Clinton over her email and Clinton Foundation conflicts.

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