It’s an image that has spread across the internet at a rapid pace.
President Donald Trump, walking on the White House lawn, has his face exposed while the wind is blowing his hair backward. The resulting image is that a clear line is shown, demonstrating his tanned features versus his natural skin tone.
A number of memes have been created since the image went viral:
This one's for Looney Tunes aficionados pic.twitter.com/wfoaqABknH
— CartoonBrew.com – Animation News (@cartoonbrew) February 9, 2020
Trump peeking through the neighbor’s fence again. pic.twitter.com/9ITfPiPOq2
— L0uis NeIs0n (@louisxnelson) February 8, 2020
It is perhaps unbecoming to “make fun” of the president this way. Indeed, millions of Americans on a daily basis make changes to their personal appearance, either by wearing make-up, using hair dye products, putting on wigs, or even tanning (in beds or with spray). Trump’s use of tanning products doesn’t inherently make him a bad leader.
But it does matter that he lies about it.
Trump had a busy day on Twitter Saturday, delivering at least 70 tweets during that time. Among the flurry of social media postings he made, Trump addressed the image depicting his “orange face.”
“More Fake News,” Trump wrote in a tweet at just past 2 p.m. EST. “This was photoshopped, obviously, but the wind was strong and the hair looks good?”
Except, it was not “fake news.” The image that was posted came from a person purporting to be a White House photographer named William Moon, per reporting from Vox. That individual admitted that the camera he uses automatically places a filter on images he produces, and thus was exaggerated in color.
But other photographers on the White House lawn that day took pictures of Trump as well, and their images verify the tanline that exists on Trump’s face:
Does any of this actually matter? It doesn’t change any laws, it doesn’t have any foreign policy implications, and it isn’t an attack on the American people — except, in that last part, it kind of is.
It’s a gaslighting attack on whether what we the people should trust our eyes or not. And the president is telling us, pointedly, don’t believe what you see, believe me instead.
This is, perhaps, not all that surprising, coming from a president who lies dozens of times per day to the American people. Whether it’s on his jobs claims, his conversations with foreign leaders, his claims against political adversaries, or anything else, this president does not want you to know the truth.
This latest example demonstrates the degree to which Trump will lie to you. On a simple matter where he could have just admitted he, like millions of us, does have a degree of vanity that compels him to tan his skin a bit, he instead calls it “fake news.” He instead wants you to buy into the lie, that he can do no wrong, or that he has no imperfections.
This is narcissism and deception like we’ve never seen before in a president. And it’s dangerous, considering that, if Trump is willing to lie and mislead you on something as simple as this, what else will he — or has he — lied about?
There are documented instances of Trump’s lies that we do know about, that we can say objectively is true or false based on evidence we have at hand. What about matters that we can’t verify or falsify? If the president makes a claim about a foreign nation, for example, that is not so easy to test as true or false, can we take him at his word at all?
That rhetorical question has an answer. In December, a militia group, which the Trump administration claimed had ties to Iran, attacked and killed American soldiers. That resulted in the bombing of that alleged group’s bases, which further resulted in protests on the U.S. Embassy in Iraq.
The administration blamed the Iranian regime for those violent protests, and, in conjunction with the original attacks on soldiers, justified the killing of that nation’s top military leader over those events, which in turn resulted in Iran launching missiles against American military bases, injuring dozens.
Americans were led to believe that the catalyst of these events was the Iranian-backed militia group attacking us first. But now, Iraqi intelligence says that may not have been the case — that an ISIS backed group, not Iran, may have been to blame for the killing of American soldiers in December, per reporting from the New York Times.
‘Bombshell’: Iraqi officials say ISIS—not Iran—likely behind rocket attack Trump used to justify Suleimani assassination https://t.co/riKrucAn0x
— Gale Turner Strong (@GaleTStrong) February 8, 2020
The Trump administration never provided evidence to the public about Iran’s involvement in those initial attacks.
We might never know the truth about those attacks, but we know what Trump wants us to think about them. And because of his insistence that Iran was involved, we went to the brink of war.
Trump’s lies about the little things matter. Their insignificance, and the extent to which he will go to in order to cover up the truth, should make us question the important issues for our nation’s security and prosperity.
If Trump is willing to tell a fib about an image that everyone in the world can see is a lie, we cannot trust anything that comes out from his lips. He is, in short, an untrustworthy leader — and this small lie demonstrates that in perhaps a silly, but still serious, way.