… yet there is method in’t

von Maximilian Steinbeis

Dear friends of Verfassungsblog,

The President of the United States is a crackpot. This diagnosis seems to be consensus in the part of the public sphere that I overlook after the baffling White House event this week generally called, for lack of a better word, “press conference”. Unhinged, insane, bat-shit crazy: many commentators, in their bewilderment, sought refuge in psychiatric terms to explain what had happened, and a palpable sense of shock and disbelief was on display not just among Donald Trump’s alleged “fake news” enemies, but even on Fox News.

I am in no position to make a statement about Trump’s state of mind. My suspicion: though this be madness, yet there is method in’t.

One of the most befuddling moments was when a CNN reporter asked Trump about the leaked informations on the stepped-down security adviser Michael Flynn’s Russian contacts. How, the reporter asked, can a leak be real and at the same time news reports about it be fake? Which is it? Is the information true or false? They cannot be both, right?

True or false, tertium non datur: The reporter seemed to have played a card which cannot be trumped (no pun intended): logic. Not a problem for the Donald, though. The public, he said calmly, does not know what is true and what is false. But he does. "I know when you are telling the truth and when you are not."

To lie is to call true what is false or vice versa. Trump is doing that on a regular basis, and that is bad enough. To claim that an assertion can be both true and false at the same time is a whole different ballgame, though. That denies the condition of the possibility of an argument about true or false in the first place. Then, true and false becomes a matter of decision: I decide what is true and what is false.

Is there a method in’t? I am afraid there is ...

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