Monday, October 10, 2016

Gaslighter’s Paradise

Gaslighter’s Paradise

Dear Jerry Pournelle:

The reviews of the Veep debate are in: Pence won on style, Kaine won on facts. Kaine interrupted Pence repeatedly - how rude! - to fact-check him - even ruder! But Pence was unflappable; he simply denied that he and Trump ever said what Kaine correctly said that they said. Pence denied reality so smoothly that all the pundits called him Presidential. Like Trump, he’s sincere; but that’s not the same as factual.

Unfortunately for Pence, there’s this pesky thing called video recording; and it gave him the lie direct. Hillary’s team promptly uploaded a “Briefing” video, titled “Indefensible”. It contrasts Pence now to Pence and Trump then, to comic effect. A horselaugh is worth a thousand syllogisms.

For me, part of the joke is that Clinton herself is a liar, in moderation. As P.J.O’Rourke said, she’s ‘wrong within normal parameters’. I think she’s inept at lying; she leaks, she has tells, she keeps getting caught. If lying weren’t a Presidential job requirement, then I’d advise her against lying at all.

Pence doesn’t have that problem. His problem is that he feels out of place in the world of facts. When Kaine quoted his and Trump’s own words at him, he called that an insult. I sympathize; I too sometimes find objective reality annoying; so I too sometimes retreat into fantasy. Fiction is comforting.

For instance, when I saw Pence deny Pence, I thought of a certain imaginary land where Pence should go, along with Trump. You can call it “Gaslighter’s Paradise”; for in it, one can say something, then unsay it, and the unsaying will stick. Pence would like that. It’s a place where anything, absolutely anything, is negotiable. How Trumpian!

Two plus two is five there, for the right price; yet two plus two is also three, or else. Up is down there, upon command; and yes is no, and day is night, and stay is go, and wrong is right. It’s post-factual; you can sell any lie there, if only you lie sincerely enough. It’s a demagogue’s dream where war is peace, and slavery is freedom, and ignorance is strength, and all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.

I call it “Gaslighter’s Paradise” to be polite, but usually it goes by a shorter name. You yourself, with Larry Niven, wrote about that place in two of your fantasy novels.

It can’t exist, it shouldn’t exist, it doesn’t exist; but if it did exist, then Gaslighter Pence and Conman Trump should go there. They should go straight there. They’d get a warm welcome there. And they should enjoy their stay, because it’s their kind of place.

Sincerely but not factually,

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