On Oct. 13, Marc Thiessen wrote that while “Trump lies all the time,” the “real barometer of presidential truthfulness” is “keeping his promises.” I’m told that there’s no such thing as a perfect metaphor, but I have known surgeons like Donald Trump.
Martinets, they create whatever drama the patient’s condition might not while placing themselves at the center of attention. They take the term Operating Theater literally, preening their appearance, scolding those perceived as upstaging them or being of insufficient support. They can be heard in hallways, blaming others for poor outcomes, berating patients for “non-compliance” or mocking them as “gomers” or “stiffs.”
Incapable of self-doubt, these surgeons never met a tumor they couldn’t remove, and like an explorer crashing through jungle with a machete, damage done all around or in consequence is acceptable as the cost of doing business. Their measure of “success” is not necessarily that of a patient now dealing with long-lasting collateral damage, having difficulty appreciating what “success” looks like.
But, however contemptible or lamentable these behaviors may be, they do not rise to the alarming level of ethical bankruptcy and moral turpitude of Trump’s chronic lying. Just as there can be no meaningful relationship between doctor and patient if the truth is in doubt, so too there can be no trust – let alone collaboration – with any elected official who lies to the electorate. Heralded as the President’s Promises Kept are incomplete projects, policies with unforeseeable but alarming consequences for the nation’s health and global well-being, strained relationships with allies, and mind-boggling debt as a result of questionable monetary policy benefitting few. That’s hardly the equivalent of informed consent.
The concept of the end justifying the means is unacceptable to me, especially when the end I’m asked to accept admittedly is couched in lies and half-truths. I would neither choose nor excuse a doctor who lies to me. The same goes for a president.
Robert Milch, MD