, 8 tweets, 1 min read Read on Twitter
I’m reading @ElizKolbert’s New Yorker review of a new P.T. Barnum biography, and I’m struck by how familiar some of it sounds. See if you agree.
“Barnum lied easily and often. When he was not fabricating, he was exaggerating; he routinely inflated how much he’d spent on his various business ventures...”
“[He] welcomed any imbroglio that would be noticed by the press. (Many times he staged controversies for the express purpose of generating coverage.) He made a fortune, then lost it...”
“While broke, he gave speeches on ‘the art of money-getting’; improbably enough, these proved extremely profitable.”
And then the kicker:
“Toward the end of his life, Barnum toyed with the idea of running for President. His running mate, he suggested, should come from a state like Indiana.”
In the last 100 years, it’s become (too) common for writers to liken a cultural figure or politician to Barnum, who was the king of flim-flam. I regret all the times we likened a charlatan to Barnum, because Donald Trump is his true heir; the man who duped America.
However, there’s no record of Barnum claiming to be the Messiah, so perhaps the analogy underreports the problem.
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