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Can anybody play the fake news game? Donald Trump’s secret Russian childhood


President Donald Trump at a rally Aug. 24 in Charleston, West Virginia. | Alex Brandon/AP

Donald Trump was born Dimitri Brataslav on Nov. 12, 1941 in the Soviet city of Smolensk. His parents died during the brutal winter of 1942, and he was raised in a state orphanage, where his proclivity for English and his ability to shift shape caught the attention of the NKVD, or secret police, which spent five years training him as a sleeper agent until, at age 15, he was smuggled into the United States, landed on Long Island from a Soviet submarine and placed under the care of Brooklyn developer Fred Trump who, in return for $50,000 a year in U.S. dollars, agreed to raise the boy as his own son, the idea being the lad would eventually help the Russians gain access to the New York real estate market and the New Jersey porn industry …

Oh, none of that is true. But I was considering the farrago of conspiracy theories and the daily blunderbuss blast of falsehoods — the president publicly lies, on average, 10 times a day, according to the Washington Post’s count — and I got to wondering: Why do Republicans get to have all the fun? To continually fabricate any nonsense they feel props up their otherwise unsupported and unsupportable causes? Why can’t Democrats, facing an entrenched movement of growing white nationalism and anti-minority hysteria, avail ourselves to similar tactics?

Sure, it’s dishonest, and wrong. But how tempting. We could simply make stuff up. Join the party, so to speak. From the vast troll farms of their Russian pals, manufacturing Facebook pages and tweets by the thousands. Up through Fox pundits tossing out any fear as a possibility: George Soros, funding the Central American caravan! To every GOP leader saying whatever they like: we’ll protect health care for those with pre-existing conditions! Secure in the knowledge that whatever Fox nodding head they’re talking to is never going to reply: “What? The caravan might be infected with smallpox! That’s insane! The disease was entirely eradicated decades ago.”

I mean, how would Republicans reply if Democrats started also conjuring delusions? That the press is lying? That the news is fake?

Ah, ahahahahaha. See, that’s the problem with their boy-who-cried-wolf strategy. It’s predicated on Democrats being honest, generally. And that is something of the definition of a Democrat. Exist in the living world, try to help real people other than yourself with their actual problems. Works for me.

Some say our honesty and decency ties one hand behind our backs, skews the playing field. It is unfair. If you’re up against a skilled cheater, you can either cheat or lose.

Maybe so. We’ll find out Tuesday. Election Day. And I wish I could say that here is where the tide of Trump’s cult of personality breaks and begins to roll back. The Democrats are expected to win the House but not the Senate, though anything is possible.

Anything, except easy resolution. It’s a little late for easy;  No matter what happens Tuesday, the global tug-o-war between democracy and despotism continues, here and everywhere.

The problem isn’t Donald Trump. The problem is that 91 percent of die-hard Trump supporters still trust him, while 11 percent trust the media, according to a CBS poll over the summer. Which answers my opening question: Republican leaders can lie with impunity because Republicans will believe them, so long as the lies flatter their prejudices. Democrats certainly have our own biases but aren’t quite so credulous.

Trump supporters will be the same Wednesday as today. They’re the same folks who not only voted for Trump in 2016 but applaud the result. Yes, the first step is to take away the power they’ve been enjoying, like prying a hammer from the fist of an infant. Well, not enjoying. For a party that controls Congress, the presidency and the Supreme Court, Republicans certainly are “so mad all the time,” as Barack Obama put it. Speaking in Miami, Obama also pointed out why compulsive lying isn’t an option for Democrats: “When people can just lie with abandon, democracy can’t work.” Exactly. Some Americans care passionately about democracy working. The rest support Donald Trump.

Just remember. Eight years of Obama’s thoughtful presidency only enraged Republicans. Graceful defeat isn’t an option for them. A blue tsunami can roll over the country Tuesday, but it won’t wash away the problem. Weathering the storm is only the start. The clean-up afterward is the real challenge.