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There is a graphic claiming to be a screenshot of a April 2016 Donald Trump tweet going viral at the moment that says, "Obama should wait until he leaves office to pick another Justice!  If he doesn't he should be fired!" At least five people I know have shared it, I believe, in good faith. But there's a problem: in reality there is no evidence that Trump actually sent this tweet.  Around that time he apparently said in a television interview that he thought the next president should get to choose Justice Antonin Scalia's Supreme Court successor, but Trump did not use his famous reality show line "You're fired!" or a version of it in that case.

Here's the thing.  President Trump has said so many horrid things, many of them outright lies. And he frequently contradicts himself.  So why the heck do his opponents think they need to make stuff up to make that point?

Sure, the fake quote pithily references the fact that Trump is a reality show host (as if being in national politics is somehow more respected than being on reality TV).  And it certainly appears to contradict what he is saying now (that he should get his own pick into the Supreme Court as soon as possible, just in case the next president's last name starts with a 'B'.  But let's face it -- when Democrats want something in the moment they ignore whatever they said in the past  to get the opposite in that past moment.  Republicans aren't the only ones.  And they all think we're not on to them.  But we are -- except the majority of us who don't fact check before reposting stuff on the Internet -- OK, maybe we're not....

Even when it's real, mining past quotes for contradictions seems on the face of it to be a laudible thing to do.  It may be simplistic -- people do sometimes change their views as they learn new things, and sometimes they just say whatever they think people want to hear so they can get votes under false pretenses.  But at least it has a basis in reality.

Making up quotes is a different matter.  Trump did go on the record as saying he thought Obama should let the next president choose.  So why not say that?  The actual fact certainly makes Trump look hypocritical.  And, unlike the tweet, it doesn't make Democrats look bad when it is revealed to be an actual fact.

Trump Tweet Fake

The Internet is a blessing and a curse.  Jokes abound about not being able to believe everything you read on the Internet (oh oh... maybe I shouldn't say that.. you're reading THIS on the Internet...) and the jokes have a point.  Yet most people take what they see at face value, and the politicians and evangelists for the left or the right take advantage of it.

A few years I told a friend that I thought the worst thing President Trump had done during the election and after taking office was to bring the rest of us down to his level of petty name calling, false accusations, and bullying.  And he has.  I really dislike him as our fearless leader, but I blanch whenever I see a post or a tweet or some fool on cable news calling Trump names.  To me that says he has won, and what could be a reasoned, truthful, and devastating rebuttal to what he does, instead becomes a "liar, liar, pants on fire" name-calling match that goes nowhere.

I don't find photoshopped graphics of a buff, shirtless Putin next to a flabby shirtless Trump funny.  But at least memes like that are obviously meant to be some kind of funny and not real things.  The fake tweet is more insidious.  It appears to be, and is accepted as true by many people, but ultimately doesn't do anything to further a reasoned conversation about the issue, which comes down to who will win the never-ending game of political dodge ball, that horrible game we were subjected to in public school, allegedly part of physical education (yup I was educated to learn that if I didn't dodge that ball, the stronger bullies on the other team would throw me into a serious world of hurt and possibly a visit to the nurse's office.  I wasn't a good thrower, but I became a skilled dodger).

I am also not amused by members of one side lumping everyone on the other side into one horrid bundle.  Quotes like, "He's a Republican, what did you expect?" or "Liberal hippy communist who wants to give everything away".  It's not productive.  And I know plenty of Democrats and Republicans who don't fit those encompassing negative stereotypes.

I was not amused when, at a party, a friend said of President Bush (the younger), "Well, he's not MY President" and everyone at the party accepted it.  Because if you are an American whoever the denizen of the White House is, whether you agree with that particular president or not, IS your President.  Just yesterday a friend referred to Trump as not being her "president of choice".  That is perfectly acceptable.  You're either an American or you're not, and if the current occupant isn't your president of choice, we're luckier than many countries.  Every few years we get to vote for someone else.  My friend gets that.  It's OK to not like a president -- in the United States, at least.  That's one of the privileges we should not take for granted in this country -- but he is, like it or not, our president.

The victim of all these fake distractions is the truth and the seminal issues facing our nation and the world.  There is certainly enough disagreement on just about every issue to keep politics interesting without all the embellishments that I call unpatriotic.  Because they muddy the discussion about things that are of actual import to the point we are so distracted that politicians (and other world leaders) can get away with just about anything and no one will notice.  The real victim is me.  And you. All of us.

To my friends on both sides of the political divide, all I can say is stop stooping to this guy's level.  It doesn't look good on you, and it makes him seem more acceptable in a world where his kind of behavior shouldn't at all be acceptable.  The reason the country is where it is right now isn't that we had an intelligent discussion about which path would lead us to greatness.  It's because of the anything-goes fake discussion that distracts us from coming up with actual solutions.

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