In 2006 Stephen Colbert coined the Merriam-Webster “Word of the Year” and it was not even a real word at the time.
He introduced it on the The Colbert Report in a segment called “The Word of the Day”.
The word is “TRUTHINESS”. Here is the video clip of Colbert introducing the word. You need to watch it. It’s Colbert at his best- http://www.cc.com/video-clips/63ite2/the-colbert-report-the-word—truthiness .
When Merriam-Webster honored the word as its word of the year it allowed erudite people to submit their formal definitions of the word. Here are some.
- (noun) : Believing something is true from the gut, or inside. Using life experiences of learnings to make something seem true
- (noun) : truth that comes from the gut not books
- (noun) : The level to which an idea or statement, while not completely accurate or valid, is true; such as in statements from the White House, or, say, People Magazine vs. In Touch Magazine.
- (noun) : like the truth [from Steven Colbert on his television show The Colbert Report]
- (noun) : the quality by which a person claims to know something intuitively, instinctively, or “from the gut” without regard to evidence, logic, or intellectual examination
And while it may be a perfect word to associate with Donald Trump, that is not where the post will proceed. For Trump, it seems to be more of a mixture of confirmation bias, conspiracy theory, egoism, low self-esteem, and bullshit.
No, the word “truthiness” seems more appropriate to use when discussing Gov. Pat McCrory.
Just last week, the governor released a thirty-second video entitled “Truth” which might be one of the better examples of truthiness I have seen of late. Here it is – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h9AfAdKSsEQ.
Take a look at it. In fact, watch it three or four more times. Nice music. Great smile. Feigned sincerity. And truthiness, sprinkled with glitter shot from fluctuating unicorns.
Here is an exercise for you. Take a song that is popular on the radio. Any song. But it would work best with a song that has a great beat. Listen to it. Then go and look up the lyrics and say them out loud to yourself without any music or video. Sometimes you come across remarkable pieces of nonsensical symbolism or lyrics about sex. When you do the same thing with political commercials, you can sometimes gauge its truthiness.
And you can with this one.
Here is the text of that commercial. No voices. No music. No feigned sincerity. Just the words. Any words that appear on the screen while the text is said are in parentheses.
“You know, I’d like to try something unique in this election and just talk about results, like how far we’ve come in North Carolina in only a few years working together bringing jobs (300,000 new jobs), raising teacher pay (50,000 average teacher pay), improving education, lower tax rates ($4.4 billion in tax relief) turning deficits ($425 million surplus) into surpluses. Let’s talk about the truth about things important to you – the reasons I’m so proud of North Carolina, the best state in the United States of America.”
The last sentence really gets me because of its “truthiness”. Because the word “truth” and McCrory never really collide in this commercial.
Read the text again. Do you believe it? Is it the truth? What does your gut tell you? What does your heart tell you? What do the actions of the last four years in North Carolina tell you?
If I were Colbert or some satirist with the ability to air this commercial with actual facts appearing on the screen as the governor was reciting his prepared script, I would probably do the following.
“You know, I’d like to try something unique in this election and just talk about results, like how far we’ve come in North Carolina in only a few years working together bringing jobs (300,000 new jobs but lowering unemployment benefits, refusing to expand Medicaid, and still leaving 25% of NC kids in poverty), raising teacher pay (50,000 average teacher pay which is impossible to sustain because the top salary a new teacher could ever make in the new budget is literally 50K), improving education, lower tax rates ($4.4 billion in tax relief for the rich and for corporations, but creating revenue through a consumer driven tax system that places new taxes on goods and services while taking away deductions) turning deficits ($425 million surplus because we refused to fully public services) into surpluses. Let’s talk about the truth about things important to you – the reasons I’m so proud of North Carolina, the best state in the United States of America.”
To me, there is a lot more truth in that one, even if it is satirical.