For the last four years, people on the left have sought labels for President Trump.
I’ve heard misogynist/sexist; authoritarian/fascist; racist/Klansman; Nazi/ Neo-Nazi; populist; “grifter” ( I had to look that one up); and, of course, stupid. I think all these miss the mark. Instead, I’ve identified two nouns that fit the bill better, and describe much of Trump’s behavior.
These are ignorance and arrogance.
Give me some time to explain how some episodes in the Trump presidency demonstrate my thesis, especially his reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic.
First, Trump is NOT stupid. He frequently touts his intelligence. Insiders acknowledge that his IQ is around 156. (For the record, I’m only 138.) But he IS ignorant. There is a difference. An important one in my opinion.
He is not well read. Indeed, it is reported that he only glosses the briefings every president gets every morning. Why read? He knows it all already. If his instincts need any fleshing out, he consults Fox News. (He is said to watch seven to eight hours of TV a day, mostly Fox.)
But whatever, it doesn’t really matter. His “gut” tells him what he needs to know. Thus, ignorance is compounded by arrogance in “Trumpworld.”
Let’s look back at Trump’s ignorance and arrogance in action:
With little understanding of North Korea, the author of “The Art of the Deal” was sure he could cut a nuclear agreement with Kim Jong-un. He knew better than the “experts” that his personal relationship with Kim would get him a “deal.” Three summits later, we got nothing.
But our “sage” leader was not done yet. With almost no knowledge about Iran, he decided unilaterally that he would cancel the nuclear deal with the Mullahs. Instead, he imposed strict economic sanctions on Iran. And again, the experts said these would just strengthen the regime in Tehran.
But Trump knew better. So now the execrable Iranian regime can continue uniting its people with fear of the new “Great Satan,” Donald J. Trump. And they could well have nukes sooner rather than later.
Then, with his head firmly buried in the sand, he withdrew from the Paris Climate Accord. He had long been what is called a “climate denier.” So he would truck no opposition. Besides, this deal was negotiated by Barack Obama.
This and the Iranian deal were two of the many “bad deals” made by Obama and his predecessors. They didn’t know what Trump knew. As always, he knew better. He knew how to “Make America Great Again.” MAGA is perhaps the best example of ignorance coupled with arrogance.
When the coronavirus hit, as usual, the president didn’t know much of anything about it. You may recall his initial response to the outbreak. He believed it was just another virus, like the flu.
Hence his dismissive suggestions that it would all go away soon. But then his “instinct” told him to create his COVID-19 “Task Force” and his nightly news “briefings.”
Replay one of these and you’ll see my point. The best parts are when Trump interrupted experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci to share HIS truth about the pandemic. Who needs experts? Just ask Dr. Trump! Remember when he personally discovered a cure? Hydroxychloroquine! “I take it,” the president said, reassuringly.
Later he had an even better idea. You remember. Just drink bleach!! Now, if the long-awaited vaccine for COVID-19 is discovered, the president will no doubt take credit. Please! A Nobel Prize in Medicine for Dr. Trump!!
Just as he knew the disease, Trump knew when it was time to reopen the country. First, everyone needed to be back in church by Easter. (Like Trump ever goes to church anyway!) He knew when beaches and such should reopen in places like Florida and Arizona. So much for that. These states now have the highest rates of infection and death.
Now he’s hell-bent to get schools open. Principal Trump knows kids need to be in school, COVID-19 be damned. After all, Dr. Trump just knows that kids don’t get COVID-19 and if they do, they don’t really get sick. So back to class, kids! “Father knows best.”
To sum up, I think my twin characterizations of Donald Trump hold up pretty well. He knows virtually nothing — that’s ignorance. He THINKS he knows everything — that’s arrogance.
Put another way, he doesn’t know what he doesn’t know nor does he need to know it. Is that clear? About as clear as the Trump presidency has been.