Friday, February 23, 2018

Donald Trump's very bad week

Or the not-so-"stable genius"

Things got off to a rough start when a story was recirculated that put Donald's English language skills at a fourth-grade level, and got worse when a panel of political scientists ranked him the worst president of all time with a score of 12.34 after his first year in office.  CNN and other news outlets were quick to toss these findings into question but there is little to support Orrin Hatch's argument that he is the best president ever.

One only has to listen to his jumbled speeches to hear that Trump has a very poor grasp of English, but Harry Truman barely managed a sixth-grade level on the Flesch-Kincaid chart and yet the same political science poll ranked him in the Presidential Top 10.  Why is Trump such a bad president in so many scholars' minds?

It's not just that his intellectual level is so low, but his emotional level is that of a bully who has repeated the fourth grade for the fourth time.  This is a man who loves to tell everyone he graduated with honors from the Wharton School of Business and that he could beat Rex Tillerson in an IQ test, but has yet to exhibit much in regard to language skills or logical thought.   His bragging resembles a man trying to overcome an inferiority complex.

It has been suggested that he never measured up to his father's high standard, and that he never got the love he craved from his mother.  He was bailed out time and again by Fred when his early business ventures went belly up, and Mary apparently had little time for her truculent son.  His father also underwrote his infamous Trump Tower, which he sees as a monument to himself.  Even by the 90s Trump was still in debt to his father over his failed casino venture in Atlantic City.

It was only when he landed on NBC as the host of The Apprentice in 2004 that his personal fortunes began to really look up, and Donald became a celebrity with his infamous "you're fired."  Where he failed in business he succeeded on television by capitalizing on his notoriety.  This was the "Golden Age" of recycling has-beens on reality shows like "The Surreal Life."  Donald took it one step further with "Celebrity Apprentice."

All along the way we have been continually reminded of his best-selling business book of all time, The Art of the Deal, ghostwritten by Tony Schwartz, who has been telling us since the campaign trail that Trump is a "deeply disturbed" and "utterly untrustworthy" man.  For three decades Schwartz's role had been kept under wraps and we were led to assume that the book was Trump in his own words.  He would later project himself as the inspiration for Gordon Gekko in Oliver Stone's Wall Street in one of those rare confluences of art and life converging in the same year, as the book and movie appeared in 1987.  Stone and the screenwriter Stanley Weiser credited a variety of popular Wall Street sharks at the time, notably Asher Adelman and junk bond king Michael Milken, not an advance copy of Trump's book.

Trump emerged as a brand name in the 80s, but here again he owes a large debt to his father.  Nevertheless, you have to give him credit for marketing it the way he did, even if Trump Shuttle went bust almost immediately.  His name became synonymous with failed business ventures, but no matter, he still valued "Trump" at $5 billion when he claimed he was worth no less than $10 billion on the campaign trail.

The problem is that all this improvisation hits a brick wall when you actually have to run a "company" the size of the United States.  You can't keep making things up on the fly, especially when confronting foreign leaders at NATO and the EU.  You have to show some basic comprehension of global markets and foreign policy, which Trump has repeatedly failed to demonstrate.  He gets such basic things about the stock market wrong that you wonder what era he lives in.  Surrounded by sycophants virtually his entire adult life, he never had to really think for himself.  Persons were so anxious to endear themselves to Trump because of his father's reputation, that they kept him inside in his 1980s cocoon of Trump Tower.

He relishes his role as the Rodney Dangerfield of politics, especially when he crows about his electoral victory in 2016.  He really doesn't care what the press, political or climate scientists think as long as he is President.  He has shifted his electoral attention from Hillary to Oprah, as he eyes 2020, ignoring the "blue tsunami" forming in the Atlantic that threatens to wash away the tenuous support he has on Capitol Hill.  State after state has turned against Trump, most notably Alabama, which elected a Democratic Senator for the first time in three decades.

The way he is handling the Parkland shooting incident isn't helping him at all.  The so-called "listening session" was upstaged by the hand-written notes he held between his tiny hands to guide him in showing empathy for the parents of the victims.  In the end, he just mouthed the NRA position to the tragedy -- more guns in schools -- resulting in incredulous side-eyes from parents and students sitting next to him.

Of course, he has two-and-a-half years to pull his act together, but given his lack of attention span and his inability to grasp issues even on the most fundamental level, it is doubtful we will see much improvement.  In fact it is very easy to see a President who simply gives up at a certain point, especially if the Democrats take Congress in November.

I don't think those polls are far off.  If anything, the Flesch-Kincaid gives Trump too much credit, as I've heard many fourth graders show a better grasp of the English language than Donald Trump.  This is a guy who faked his way through business school knowing full well none of it mattered because his Dad was worth millions.  His "gift," if you can call it that, is a complete lack of shame.  It allows him to keep getting up in the morning oblivious to the tongue-lashing he gets virtually every night from political pundits and late-night comics.  He has turned Rodney's "I get no respect" tagline into a red badge of courage, and shockingly "The President of the United States," which I doubt his father or mother would have ever imagined.

1 comment:

  1. I guess things aren't going all that well for the golfer in chief: