The Slatest

The Crushing Dumbness of Donald Trump

President Trump examines a fire truck from Wisconsin-based manufacturer Pierce on the South Lawn during a 'Made in America' product showcase event at the White House in Washington, DC, on July 17, 2017.  / AFP PHOTO / Olivier Douliery        (Photo credit should read OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP/Getty Images)
Check please. AFP Contributor/Getty Images

Donald Trump is the president of the United States, which, to Donald, is great because it’s like being the star of a show that everyone has to watch, because they’re terrified of what he might do next. Trump has embraced that breezy you-never-know-and-I’ve-got-nukes vibe and, you’ll notice, really settled into himself on the stump as president, even though the stump is a place that most presidents avoid for much of their first term, in order to actually do the job of being president. Not Donald. Early on, he recognized the positive feedback loop of saying unthinkably dumb things out loud. Doing so set off a frenzied chain reaction of analysis, reporting, and speculation about what was meant by whatever came out of his mouth that didn’t make any sense at all.

So away he went, burrowing further and further into his own fevered reality, erecting a Ponzi scheme of truth in the West Wing that has been broadcast into American homes and psyches for nearly two years now. When the president comes up for air, forced to improvise, it feels like watching the wheels visibly turn in a 6-year-old’s mind, biting his bottom lip trying to come up with a whopper, a sick burn, whatever really.

And it’s not that Trump is dumb himself that irks, although he very much is; it’s how baldly dumb the things he says are, all the time.

The lying grates, but how poorly crafted and executed the lies are, how telegraphed they are in his own interest, and how unmoored from any semblance of reality they are, makes them particularly crushing. Replace “Middle Easterners” with “Stormtroopers.” It’s that absurd; it wouldn’t make a difference. Maybe there are Stormtroopers deployed by Darth Vader from the Death Star embedded with “the Caravan,” who knows? Where’s the proof they aren’t?

By the end of a full day spent reading and hearing practically everything he says, where do you start? You can’t. The explanations are too elementary to literally start at the beginning each time, over and over again.

He doesn’t know anything. It’s not just that he’s lying; he’s not even trying.