Gatsby, and the history of lies

Published 7:59 am Monday, September 24, 2018

Jay Gatsby, the lead character in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s book, “The Great Gatsby” lies all the time.

He lies about the origin of his wealth, he lies about his love life, he even lies about reading the great books in his library.

Gatsby lies so much, and so frequently, that he could no more find the truth than discover humility. Why does he lie, and lie so studiously, so seemingly effortlessly, yet so conflicted with his previous lies, that it is certain to reveal his disconnect with truth?

Email newsletter signup

Gatsby lies because under his exposed insecurities, is a narcissism so rich and deep that all else of his person is consumed to feed the cut glass mirrored image of a hollow human.

Adolph Hitler described the power of the “Big Lie” in Mein Kampf, his autobiography, as, “All this was inspired by the principle—which is quite true within itself—that in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility…”

So, the Big Lie has its history in fiction and in fact. It is, in faction, used as a reflection of flawed human character, whether to gain wealth, conceal deceit, or simply feed narcissistic character.

In politics, the Big Lie is used best when it is so outrageous that no one would believe so bold a lie would be possible.

Richard Nixon used his Big Lie, “I am not a crook,” in a press conference claiming he knew nothing about the Watergate events. When the facts, and tapes, proved otherwise, that Big Lie ended with his resignation as president, but not before his earnest attempts to shut down the investigation of the facts surrounding Watergate.

And now, decades later, we have Donald Trump, Narcissist-in-Chief, Liar of Great Repute (He has almost single-handedly created the fact check industry), repeating hundreds and hundreds of times that the special Pprosecutors’ investigation about Russian influence in the 2016 election is “a witch hunt.”

Keep in mind that the investigation is not about Trump, but about uncovering, identifying and explaining any and all Russian attempts to influence the 2016 election. Now, why would any American president not want that investigation to go forward, to protect the nation from future attempts to compromise our election process?

And why would any president label as a witch hunt a prosecution that has uncovered many crimes and gained several convictions and pleas of guilt by people associated with the Trump campaign? Could the president actually be incurious about criminals and crimes committed within his campaign? Could this president possibly think it acceptable for those he once worked with to lie to the FBI?

And how could the president dishonor his own attorney general for the explicit reason, a reason specifically related to the Russian investigation, that Attorney General Jeff Sessions has not protected himself, Trump, from that investigation? Why would the president need protection from the facts?

Unless, unless, unless there is a Big Lie here. A lie so big that this president would obstruct justice to conceal the Big Lie? Because the presidents’ actions this week to declassify portions of the ongoing investigation are an obstruction of justice (though that legal determination remains open), actions taken, not by a legal review of the issues and concerns of FBI mistakes, but because of Fox News pundits who argued on TV that Trump should break the seal of confidentiality of an ongoing investigation.

Trump, many individuals report, is not much of a reader. So, maybe he has not realized his deep connection to the fictional Gatsby, or the historical Hitler, or the disgraced president, Nixon. Maybe Trump thinks he invented the Big Lie.

Hannah Arendt wrote: “The trouble with lying and deceiving is that their efficiency depends entirely upon a clear notion of the truth that the liar and deceiver wishes to hide.”


Jim Crawford is a retired educator, political enthusiast and award-winning columnist living here in the Tri-State.