While our insane president has been away on his first big-boy trip overseas to embarrass us in Europe and the Middle East, while the previous twice a day investigative-journalism bombshells have reduced down to only one or so per day, I’ve had a lot of time to think about the fact that how I have felt about the moron from day one has been much different from the way most people have felt about him.
I am one of the few people to whom it has been clear from the beginning that Donald Trump is exactly as he presents himself to be, most often without even trying. Not long after election day I blogged and started regularly posting across my social media about not sharing the same fear that so many others felt about this unstable president and presidency.
You might have noticed the photo atop this blog post is not of Donald Trump, but merely suggests his image. It is, in fact, and image of my cat’s ass. I find it remarkable and somewhat telling how much his ass resembles the top of Trump’s head, don’t you? That’s as much credit as I can or will muster for taking him seriously. I tell you that so you can understand my baseline.
I have a lot of compassion for the majority of open-hearted people who have spent the past six months torturing themselves trying to find some iota of rationality behind Cheeto Nixon’s actions. Trying to recognize a nefarious, presidential level of intelligence behind the mean-spiritedness of the shit-idiot’s grandstanding, actions, and attempted national policies. I don’t have any compassion for the congressional Republicans and the conservative voters to put them there who have spent the past six months attempting to hide — or outright justifying — their gratuitous lack of giving a shit about other human beings besides themselves behind the much larger target of a president for whose behavior they have made rationalization after rationalization and promise after promise that he will learn and improve.
All of these people, liberal or conservative, compassionate or bankrupt of human feeling, share one common trait. Incredibly, somehow they all continue to believe that Donald has any level of native intelligence whatsoever and any capacity to change. Since the campaign, I have firmly believed that assumption to be barking up the wrong tree, in the wrong forest, on the wrong continent, on the wrong planet, in the wrong solar system, in the wrong galaxy, on the wrong side of the universe.
Get real. Yes, we’d all love Donald Trump, the president, to be presidential. But Donald Trump, the human being, is a bullying, ignorant child.
I know it’s always hard to believe the worst of humanity is really the worst of humanity, even when it’s standing before you shouting at you that it’s the worst of humanity—and especially when the worst of humanity becomes president. Maya Angelou spoke most forcefully to this point, though, in a discussion with Oprah Winfrey about believing other people when they show you through their words and deeds what they’re really all about. Her words bear repeating here: “My dear, why must you be shown 29 times before you can see who they really are? Why can’t you get it the first time?” In other words, when people tell you — and show you — who they are, believe them the first time. The worst of us rarely try to hide who they are, and even when they do they usually aren’t very good at it.
Once this month’s almost unending series of bombshells began to break about multiple investigations into multiple people close to Trump regarding growing evidence of potential collusion with foreign powers—which some have correctly likened to a new golden age of American investigative newspaper journalism—the two national mastheads most keenly at war with each other in service to the right of the American public to know the truth, the New York Times and the Washington Post, finally started publishing opinion pieces about Trump’s stupidity. After six months of “when will he learn?” we have finally arrived where we should have been all along. Exploring a matter in real life in 2017 that feels like the punch line to a bad 1970s Borscht Belt joke. “Our president is so dumb! How dumb is he?”
David Brooks writing in the New York Times observed that Trump is not only as limited in his abilities of self-awareness, self-control, logic, and strategy as a child might be, making him an incompetent adult, but that he is also so incompetent that he is too incompetent to even understand his own incompetence to begin with. Brooks lamented that instead of allowing ourselves to recognize what is obvious about Trump, the “vast analytic powers of the entire world” are needlessly being spent “trying to understand a guy whose thoughts are often just six fireflies beeping randomly in a jar.”
The New York Times Editorial Board agreed, noting that the hallmarks of his many failed businesses and the hallmarks of his presidency are the same, namely, “inattention and ignorance, vanity and foolish impulsivity.”
Washington Post columnist Alexandra Petri suggests calling Trump a child gives him too much credit, because children can learn, but Trump never seems to do that. She writes, “The president is not a child. Children can improve. Children speak with inside voices. Children ask for help when there are things they cannot reach. He’s a human Failure to Read the User’s Manual.”
An op-ed in the Washington Post by Tony Schwartz, the co-author (long-ago revealed to have been the only author) in 1987 of Trump’s boastful business book, The Art of the Deal, went even further. No fan of Trump and long contrite regarding the hyperbole and outright lies that Trump had him include in the book three decades ago, in the piece Schwartz drew on the 18 months he spent with Trump to deftly peg what motivates him to act the way that he does—and to explain why he’ll never change. Schwartz boils it all down to daddy issues, essentially saying that Trump had a monstrous, heartless asshole for a father who demanded that his sons act as ruthlessly as he did in order to win attention. The result, according to Schwartz, is a man with absolutely no self-worth whatsoever who has spent his entire life trying in vain to win his long-dead father’s approval, operating under the same assumptions about life in the world that his father did: that there are either winners or losers and never anyone in between; and that winners have to create unhappiness and fear for everyone else in order to become and remain winners.
If you hadn’t read the Schwartz op-ed yet, while you are now realizing that the above description fully captures our current president, here’s an even more telling quote from the piece, which drives home what Brooks metaphorically wrote—or so he thought—about Trump essentially always acting like a child. Schwartz writes, “‘When I look at myself in the first grade and I look at myself now,’ (Trump) told a recent biographer, ‘I’m basically the same.’ His development essentially ended in early childhood.”
When an adult tells you that they’re essentially the same inside as they were when they were six years old, and they don’t have a diagnosable psychological or neurological condition, then they are telling you something not only horrific but also terrifyingly sad about themselves. The problem, of course, is that childish though it may be, Trump harbors regressive, outdated, toxic beliefs about other human beings, about cultures that are not his own, about advanced emotional concepts like compassion and intellectual concepts like…really, any at all…that simply evade him. Because when you get right down to it, his entire modus operandi is that which you would imagine might govern the behavior—and mouth—of a grade-schooler in the 1950s with a monster for a parent.
It’s not an excuse, but when you think about the racist, sexist, xenophobic, antisemitic, Islamophobic group of people with which Drumpf has surrounded himself, it makes a lot of sense. His developmentally arrested ignorance and total lack of curiosity about the world around him would also explain why it seems like he assumed being president would mean that he could do, say, and get away with anything. The American system of checks and balances must have come as an incredible, mind-shattering shock to him. I truly think he believed that as president, he would be able to hide and keep hidden whatever dirty needs he and/or his advisers have participated in.
Of course, knowing Trump, the braggy, baitable presidential child as we all know him now, that was never going to happen. His advisers, who unlike Trump are not mental children, surely knew that. And if they did, when the Trump presidency is over, the one person left lying under the bus may be the one that was planned by his advisers to be under the bus all along— the one obviously too ignorant to ever see it coming.
I don’t fear children and that’s why I don’t and won’t fear Trump. I’m not a fan of his heinous horde of batshit–crazy cabinet members and mean–spirited advisers, and I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot more damage is done before our Republic rights itself again. But I have an unfailing confidence in our national institutions, in our checks and balances, in our justice system, and in our fourth estate to bring this administration in the end to account for its actions. We’ve been here before. Four decades ago, they worked exactly as our founders intended and helped get rid of a highly intelligent, scheming president who thought he was above the law. In case you hadn’t noticed, that seems to be exactly what they’re doing once again, right now.
Except for the highly intelligent part.