My first response to the news this morning that the man child residing in the White House pretending to be president challenged his own goddamn Secretary of State to an IQ test was one of utter resignation. When is this madness going to end? What does this man have to do to get removed from office on the very obvious grounds of extreme incompetence?
In an interview with Forbes magazine published today, Trump claimed that if the report about Tillerson calling him a ‘moron’ was true, he would like to compare IQ test results with his Secretary of State to prove that he was the smartest.
“I think it’s fake news,” Trump told Forbes. “But if he did that, I guess we’ll have to compare IQ tests. And I can tell you who is going to win.”
Yes, this actually happened. There are a few things we can glean from this truly insane exchange:
1. It isn’t fake news. It is clearly true that Tillerson called him a moron and isn’t going to deny it.
2. Rex Tillerson is smarter than Donald Trump. Smart people don’t need to tell everyone how smart they are.
3. We’re all screwed.
It goes without saying now that Trump is an emotionally inept, immature narcissist with a very serious personality disorder. But what is also clear from reports circulating the media this week is that his staff are close to breaking point having to deal with his crazy outbursts on a day to day basis. Writes Jonathan Chait:
It continues to be the case that the officials surrounding Trump see themselves as holding off a collapse. Politico reports that deposed former chief of staff Reince Priebus habitually used a technique familiar to parents of small children to manage the president. When Trump asked to do something stupid, crazy, or impossible, his staff would mollify the request by delaying it, on the hope that the president would forget about it later on. Explaining to him that the request could not be fulfilled would simply anger the president.
A Trump confidant speaking to the Washington Post likens the president to a “pressure cooker,” who will explode if he does not blow off steam. The metaphors in the two reports differ, but they share the essential assumptions of the president’s handlers: Trump is irrationally emotional, and the only strategy for managing this problem is to try to defer the costs to the future.
As with a toddler, Trump’s managers try to explain to him that his outbursts are self-destructive. (“If you can’t stop your tantrum and get dressed, we won’t have time to go to the park at all.”)
What Chait describes above is not how to run a government. It is how to run a daycare center for toddlers. Trump is the Commander in Chief — the man with access to the nuclear codes and the authority to wage war on whomever he wishes to. Running the United States (or any country for that matter) is a gravely serious job for those with world class temperaments, a keen grasp of policy and a deep respect for the office they inhabit. Trump has none of those skills and even less respect for the White House. Yet he is being protected by the people around him who either love their country so much they want to do their best to make the best of a bad situation, or are complicit in one of the biggest disasters in US political history.
Either way, this can’t go on forever and at some point the charade has to come to an end. Will the adults please, please intervene?
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.