April 11, 2020

The New Yorker interview with Fran Lebowitz includes this exchange:

Has this crisis shown us anything about Donald Trump that we didn’t know before?

No. Every single thing that could be wrong with a human being is wrong with him. But the single most dangerous thing about Donald Trump is how unbelievably stupid he is. It’s not the most dangerous thing in someone who has no responsibilities, but in a President it’s the most dangerous thing.

I agree that "every single thing that could be wrong with a human being is wrong with" Trump. But I don't believe stupidity is his most dangerous trait now that he's president.

We've had stupid presidents before. Ronald Reagan was stupid. So was George W. Bush. They were awful -- though not as awful as Trump -- but they weren't awful because they were stupid.

The Iraq War, for instance, wasn't the work of stupid people in Bush's administration. It was the work of smart zealots, people like Dick Cheney, who is a loathsome human being, but is not at all stupid. In the Reagan administration, it was zealotry on the part of Reagan and his allies that led to the massive tax cuts for the rich that helped fuel the last four decades of increasing inequality.

Trump is in thrall to zealots, but it's not because he's stupid -- it's because he's a bully. He wasn't always a Republican or a right-winger, but in the past decade or so he recognized that the GOP is the party that pounds on the less favored on behalf of the favored. Trump loves that. The GOP demonizes non-whites, immigrants, gays, women, liberals, Democrats, educated people, people who live in cities. What's truly awful about Trump is that he wallows in this demonization, and spends every day finding newer and more vicious way of accelerating the process of making heartland white Americans hate everyone who's not like them.

Beyond that, Trump believes that a president's job is being a bully. He wants adoration. He wants reelection. And he's so incapable of imagining that the job of president involves some higher ideal of service that, in the midst of a deadly pandemic, his only concerns are attacking a succession of scapegoats and using needed medical and protective equipment as perks offered to politicians who kiss his ass and denied to those who don't.

Trump doesn't do this because he's stupid. Trump does this because he's an evil bastard with not a shred of empathy. That's his worst trait.

Oh, and he's colossally stupid, too.

Posted with permission of No More Mister Nice Blog

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