One of the great moments of this, or frankly of any presidential campaign, occurred last month when Hillary Clinton appeared on the Jimmy Kimmel Show to perform a feat of strength by attempting to open a pickle jar. It was Festivus in August. Any year you have Festivus more than once is a very good year. In keeping with the Festivus theme, Hillary’s Grand Opening was followed by the Airing of Grievances by Republicans. They bitterly complained the jar lid was loosened to allow Hillary to free the pickles. The Donald complained Picklegate was just another example of Hillary playing fast and loose with the truth. Unmoored from his campaign staff and his meds and unshackled from his teleprompter, he riffed comparing the Clinton Foundation with George Costanza’s fake Human Fund, “Money for People.”
Hillary replied to The Donald’s Picklegate charge stating that “nothing could be further from the truth” that someone had loosened the jar lid. Politicians and their Facebook supporters constantly attack their opponents by using the phrase “nothing could be further from the truth” to disparage an opponent’s statement. This got me thinking about quantum physics and Aunt Bea’s pickles. Ponder the phrase “nothing could be further from the truth.” How is it possible for more than one thing to be furthest from the truth? If the truth is a single point on a straight line, then only one thing can be furthest from it. Yet politicians keep telling us that things said by their opponents are the furthest from the truth. It doesn’t make geometric sense.
When The Donald says that he never led the birther charge that Obama can’t be President because he was born on the planet Venus, Democrats will say nothing could be further from the truth. If Hillary says the private email server was for convenience only, the Republicans will say nothing could be further from the truth. How can birtherism and emailgate both be further from the truth than the other? Only one can be further from the truth. As the King of Siam once told Anna, “Is a puzzlement.”
If instead of the truth being a point on a straight line, what if the truth is a point in the middle of a circle surrounded by political lies? Then multiple false statements can appear on the diameter of the circle. Each political lie , if not further from the truth than the other lies, would at least be equidistant from the truth with the other political lies. Sort of like the Knights of the Round Table. This truthian geometry makes my head hurt.
Instead of thinking about Hillary’s pickle jar, let us ponder Aunt Bea’s pickles. This was the classic Andy Griffith episode. Aunt Bea had many fine qualities but making pickles wasn’t one of them. She made 18 jars of pickles that tasted like kerosene cucumbers. Kind hearted but gastric sensitive, Andy and Barney, unable to hurt Aunt Bea’s feelings or eat her pickles, switch out her pickles with store bought pickles. They rave so much about how good her pickles are that Aunt Bea decides to enter her pickles in the county fair. Aunt Bea is unaware she is about to enter store-bought pickles. At first Andy figures they will just not tell Aunt Bea about the pickle swap because its just a county fair contest and it really doesn’t matter who wins.
Then the moral dilemma arises. Aunt Bea’s best friend Clara has won the last 11 pickle contests at the fair. Clara drops by Andy’s office and tells him how much it means to her to win the pickle contest. Andy , conscience stricken, has a great quote when explaining to Barney why they can’t let Aunt Bea’s store-bought pickles win over Clara’s homemade pickles. “What’s small potatoes to some folks can be mighty important to others.”
In order to keep the contest fair, Andy and Barney eat all of Aunt Bea’s store bought pickles leading Aunt Bea to make a whole mess of new kerosene pickles. Aunt Bea’s real pickles lose to Clara at the fair. Clara is happy. Justice and honest pickles prevail. Aunt Bea is so thrilled that Barney and Andy liked her pickles that she makes 18 new jars of kerosene pickles for them to eat.
Today’s moral: Nothing could be further from the truth than entering store bought pickles in the county fair. Or as Shakespeare almost said, “Would a kerosene pickle by any other name smell as sweet?”