Lost in the hubbub of the folly that is the current administration, including the xenophobia, the incompetence, the amateurish management inside the White House, the theories that Trump is crazy like a fox, that he’s a “populist,” a megalomaniac, or that he’s just a novice politician and he may still find his groove, is the notion that he is hopelessly, inexcusably uninformed. In fact, I believe he is, frankly, borderline stupid. Despite all his bluster that he knows more than the rest of us, there is no evidence, either empirical or anecdotal, that tends to suggest he is anything but ignorant on the vast majority of topics about which he bloviates.
We Americans seem to suffer from a persistent fallacy that suggests that anyone with a lot of money can’t be stupid. “Trump can’t be dumb, look at the fortune he’s amassed.” Really?
His dad got him started in the business. He’s run multiple hotels and casinos into bankruptcy. He is almost single-handedly responsible for the failure of the USFL. He seems to have made a lot of money by cheating and bullying people in business deals and claiming that makes him a “great negotiator.” His fake college is a sham. And judging from the male apples that have fallen from his tree, he hasn’t been endowed with a particularly intelligent genetic code. Donald Trump is the slick, east coast version of this guy. So, yeah, give credit him for being persistent and maybe even a little perceptive like a modern-day P.T. Barnum. But that doesn’t make him smart.
It’s become a trite observation to say that many of us “took Trump literally but not seriously.” Those that perpetuate this cliche seem to believe that the bombastic Trump, despite his limited vocabulary and juvenile demeanor, is apparently also a poet that speaks in subtle metaphors. Although the latter half of the admonition is probably true, everyone took him literally. He was elected precisely because a lot of people really do want a massive wall between us and Mexico. A lot of people really do want to ban Muslims from this country, and lot of people really do want to dismantle Obamacare.
Most of us understand that you can’t “drain the swamp” easily. Most of us understand that judges are not incompetent for upholding the law. Most of us, prior to the election, already understood that healthcare is complex. But not The Donald.
Every day, with all the panache of a 4th-grader making his first oral presentation, speaking in short, simple sentence structure or incomplete superlatives, he seems to say things that are a revelation only to him, or are simply nonsensical. As this story notes, in one day alone he reversed himself on six campaign promises.
And thus, back to my premise. Donald Trump is not your typical promise-breaking politician. Rather, like a child, he simply doesn’t understand that you can’t say whatever you like one day and something entirely different the next.
Trump wants his big wall like a kid wants pizza for dinner every night or a ride to school in a rocket ship. He seems to genuinely believe that if he asks for something enough times, the adults will find away to give it to him.
So, when you see Donald Trump unwittingly contradicting his campaign promises, it’s not because he’s duplicitous, it’s because he really is only now learning things that most of us have known since middle school.