Mountebank: A charlatan; a seller of quack medicines who attracts customers with stories, jokes, or tricks; a con artist. From Italian monta im banco, one who gets up on a bench (to speak). Pronounced with three syllables.
I’m imagining the members of the New York Times editorial board debating which of several synonyms to use in the lead editorial of September 16, headlined “Donald Trump’s Latest Birther Lie” – “Mr. Trump’s Birther Nonsense” in the print edition – before settling on mountebank.
The midday bulletin arrived as another bizarre moment in the absurdist presidential campaign of Donald Trump: News Alert: Trump admits Obama was born in the United States.
What? It read like some variation on “Trump Finds the Earth No Longer Flat.” But no, Mr. Trump, the ultimate mountebank, was at it again, altering but not abandoning the Big Lie campaign that first made him the darling of wing nuts and racists five years ago: his vicious insistence that President Obama was not born a legitimate American citizen.