I recently came across the Mark Twain quote, “When in doubt, tell the truth.” It gave me pause, because it timelessly suggests why Donald Trump has no scruples when it comes to telling the truth: he is never in doubt about anything he thinks (or wants to think).
That recalls another Twain quote in response to news of his death in 1897 — “the report of my death is an exaggeration”– of which exaggeration he removed all doubt by living until 1910. He could still be living today, judging by these quotes indicating it’s no exaggeration to propose that Twain had more than a passing insight into the likes of Donald Trump:
When the doctrine of allegiance to party can utterly upend a man’s moral constitution and make a fool of him besides, what excuse are you going to offer for preaching it, teaching it, extending it, perpetuating it? Shall you say, the best good of the country demands allegiance to party? Shall you also say it demands that a man kick his truth and his conscience into the gutter, and become a mouthing lunatic, besides?
It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.
A half-truth is the most cowardly of lies.
All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then success is sure.
A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.
Never argue with a fool. Onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.
Politicians and diapers must be changed often, and for the same reason.
Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.
Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on, or by imbeciles who really mean it.
I hear you loud and clear, Mark Twain. News of your death is indeed an exaggeration.