One of the most fascinating—which is to say, horrifying—things about the modern-day Trump regime has been watching our current president find himself confronted with bigger, ever-more sturdy edifices of fact, and then watching him methodically tear them down with all the pent-up rage and maturity of a three-year-old caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Not that this behavior is anything new for Trump, mind you, a depressing bit of real news about fake shit that was demonstrated in an art-based anecdote from one of his biographers, which has been making the rounds over the last few weeks.
The story—which comes courtesy of Tim L. O’Brien, who wrote 2005 tell-all TrumpNation—centers on one of those small, almost casual lies Trump seems to delight in first telling, and then defending with a self-certainty that borders on the maniacal. O’Brien was flying with Trump on his private jet when he noticed a familiar painting hanging on the wall of the plane: Renoir’s “Two Sisters (On the Terrace)”. Familiar with the painting from its long tenure at The Art Institute Of Chicago (where it’s been part of the collection since the early 1930s), O’Brien remarked on the copy’s presence. Trump, of course, replied that, actually, it was an original Renoir—despite the fact that, at that very moment, the original “Two Sisters” was hanging on a wall somewhere in Chicago. After going back and forth with Trump on the issue for a few minutes, O’Brien eventually backed down, and, a few days later, was treated to Trump pointedly telling other guests on his plane all about his “original Renoir.”
O’Brien told this story recently to Vanity Fair, and, admittedly, as far as Trump’s various crimes against truth go, it’s one of the smaller ones. But at the same time, the smallness of the lie—and the pettiness with which Trump then flaunted his “victory” in front of O’Brien—only emphasizes the irritation of living in this man’s America. “He believes his own lies in a way that lasts for decades,” O’Brien said on the Vanity Fair podcast. “He’ll tell the same stories time and time again, regardless of whether or not facts are right in front of his face.”