The president of the United States is at odds with his advisers, again, which probably tells you all that you need to know about this president. I mean, have you ever had a boss who doesn’t trust his or her employees? A boss who flat-out doesn’t believe them? Who thinks, always, that s/he knows better?
That would be one bad boss. You don’t want that guy as a boss.
(Quick pause: This is the first time that I’ve whined about DT in months. Allow me this transgression, if you would. Plus, really, this isn’t about DT. Who wants to waste time on that guy?)
The head of the American intelligence apparatus testified in front of Congress the other day and allowed that, yes, as we all kind of suspected and feared, North Korea probably will not roll over and give up its nuclear weapons program. And Iran, as bad a bunch of bad guys as exists on the planet, probably is adhering to treaty (whew!) and not producing nukes. The spy chief said that Russia, DT’s best bud, is (to nobody’s surprise) still trying to screw with (and screw over) the U.S. The chief said ISIS is still a threat.
All of those findings, and more, backed by the vast knowledge and years of expertise of the entire U.S. intelligence community, were disputed by the president. Ruthlessly. Childishly. Ignorantly. On Twitter, of course.
DT called the intelligence gatherers “wrong!” (Exclamation point his.) He called them “passive and naive.” He thumbed out, “Perhaps Intelligence should go back to school!” (Again with the weird capitalization and uncalled-for marks!)
(He — being the President of the United States, a position that, generally, has been held by relatively educated men — also allowed this about Iran: “There economy is now crashing, which is the only thing holding them back.” The bolding is mine.)
In short this president says, with trademark grammar and punctuation problems, that he knows more about these subjects than people who have spent careers learning about them; that he knows more about extremely tricky geopolitics than the very people who tell him about them. He knows all of this despite the fact that, infamously, he doesn’t like to read, especially when it comes to the highly classified, deeply researched and carefully curated President’s Daily Brief, which summarizes intelligence community findings.
(DT knows more about global warming than scientists do, too. But … nevermind.)
The whole thing is an absurdity, of course, not to mention extremely insulting to those in the intelligence-gathering biz. Not for nothing, it’s also scarily dangerous.
But that is, of course, DT. He is intelligence-challenged in more than one way.
All that said — and, boy, I could say more — I have a question that’s been banging around my brainpan for a couple years now (strangely coinciding with the moment that DT became president). And that question is this:
Does all this seem more out-there now because it truly is out-there, or is it only because I’m of an age now where I, perhaps, pay more attention to politics?
Has this presidency, have politics, reached all-time ridiculousness? Or am I just becoming one of those old men who write letters to the editor, shake fists at the current state of things and demand change because, dammit, the world is going to hell in a handbasket?
(In truth, I’m not even sure what a handbasket is. A tote? A reusable shopping bag? A backpack?)
In my more lucid, less anxious moments, I realize that the world, as a whole, is a lot better off than it used to be, as Nicholas Kristof, looking back on what many of us saw as the wreckage of 2018, wrote in The New York Times earlier this year:
Each day on average, about another 295,000 people around the world gained access to electricity for the first time, according to Max Roser of Oxford University and his Our World in Data website. Every day, another 305,000 were able to access clean drinking water for the first time. And each day an additional 620,000 people were able to get online for the first time.
Never before has such a large portion of humanity been literate, enjoyed a middle-class cushion, lived such long lives, had access to family planning or been confident that their children would survive. Let’s hit pause on our fears and frustrations and share a nanosecond of celebration at this backdrop of progress.
Still, relaxing on this trip we’re on would be a lot easier if I could be assured that the driver of this buggy knew what he was doing. Or that he’ll at least pay attention to the signs so that he doesn’t drive us into oblivion.
But I’m not confident of that. I get less confident every day.
In the end, I’m just going to say that all of this lip-chewing and spleen-venting probably is due to a combination of a more-adult me being hyper-aware — I certainly wasn’t this attuned to Ronald Reagan, or Bill Clinton, or either of the Bushes, or Obama — and DT being the most self-serving and arrogant yet least intelligent human ever to kind of work in the White House. Or any white building, for that matter. This, I figure, is simply an unfortunate collision of my time and him taking up space.
I’m just thankful that he’s not my president.