And he’s surrounded by very smart but vicious people that I really believe hate our country. I really believe that,” said Trump. “Because they are smart people. They’re vicious. And they use law enforcement to go after and hunt people. You see what they’re doing. Nobody’s ever done anything like they’re doing. He’s surrounded by these people, and we have to be victorious, we’re not going to have a country left.”
Returning to the subject of the video of Biden rambling or losing track of things, Trump said: “And once and for all, Joe Biden should put the question to rest — I don’t think we really need to know the answer because we already do — by taking a cognitive test and releasing the results for the entire world to see. Just like I did.”
“I did it! I got tired of these fake stories from these fake reporters. Then I took the test. And Ronnie Jackson, Doc Ronnie, right? He’s Doc Ronnie, he’s Admiral Ronnie, and he’s now Congressman Ronnie from Texas. He’s a great man. And he was the doctor of Bush and Obama, younger Bush, who got us into the Middle East. He did a great job, didn’t he? One of the worst presidents in our history, whether you like him or not, whether you like a Republican or not. He got us into the Middle East. He should be ashamed of himself for what he did. And he never got us out. And neither did Obama get us out. But I got you out. With the support of all of these patriots, and he should take the test. And by the way, everybody running for president should be forced to take this test. You see that now,” said Trump, returning to the topic of the video after about 80 seconds of aside.
“And I started by saying our country’s at the most dangerous point in history. That’s so true. And we have people, some of them maybe don’t care? Others don’t get it. They’re not into the world of deals or psychology or dealing with other people. But this is the most dangerous. And, you know, now they’re all bragging about what they did. Let Ukraine take the credit. But you gotta get out. They gotta make a deal. Gotta make a deal. Russia’s gonna make a deal. They would make a deal. Ukraine should make a deal. There’s not a lot left, though. You know, the, the time to do it was at the beginning before it started. It would have never happened. Even if they didn’t make a deal, it would have never happened. I spoke to Putin about it a lot, and I told him what would happen if it did. And he understood that. And we never had, you know, a lot of people they say, actually a lot of the radical left say, we agree that if Trump were president that would not have happened. That’s just such a horrible thing. But they knew that it was not something that was going to. And the fact is, for four years, it didn’t happen. So never even thought about – nor did Taiwan happen with President Xi of China. That didn’t happen. With the support of all the patriots here tonight, we saved our country once and together we will save our country again,” said Trump, returning to the line he’d interrupted about patriots after about a minute and a half of aside.
No doubt the excruciating rambling asides and erratic attention span that so frequently litter Trump speeches and often take strange twists and turns before returning to a point – if it is returned to at all – will remind members of the press and critics across social media of the many times his cognitive abilities were questioned while he was in office, and how frequently the subject of his being mentally unfit or the possibilities of invoking the 25th Amendment were given serious discussion and air time at major networks and platforms.
How Dumb is Trump?
For more than a year now, I’ve been hearing from people in the inner circles of official Washington – GOP lobbyists, Republican pundits, even a few Republican members of Congress – that Donald Trump is remarkably stupid.
I figured they couldn’t be right because really stupid people don’t become presidents of the United States. Even George W. Bush was smart enough to hire smart people to run his campaign and then his White House.
Several months back when Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called Trump a “f—king moron,” I discounted it. I know firsthand how frustrating it can be to serve in a president’s cabinet, and I’ve heard members of other president’s cabinets describe their bosses in similar terms.
Now comes “Fire and Fury,” a book by journalist Michael Wolff, who interviewed more than 200 people who dealt with Trump as a candidate and president, including senior White House staff members.
In it, National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster calls Trump a “dope.” Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus both refer to him as an “idiot.” Rupert Murdoch says Trump is a “f—king idiot.”
Trump’s chief economic adviser Gary Cohn describes Trump as “dumb as sh-t,” explaining that “Trump won’t read anything — not one-page memos, not the brief policy papers; nothing. He gets up halfway through meetings with world leaders because he is bored.”
When one of Trump’s campaign aides tried to educate him about the Constitution, Trump couldn’t focus. “I got as far as the Fourth Amendment,” the aide recalled, “before his finger is pulling down on his lip and his eyes are rolling back in his head.”
Trump doesn’t think he’s stupid. “Actually, throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart,” he tweeted last Saturday. As he earlier recounted, “I went to an Ivy League college … I did very well. I’m a very intelligent person.
Trump wasn’t exactly an academic star. One of his professors at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business and Finance purportedly said that he was “the dumbest goddamn student I ever had.”
Trump biographer Gwenda Blair wrote in 2001 that Trump was admitted to Wharton on a special favor from a “friendly” admissions officer who had known Trump’s older brother.
But hold on. It would be dangerous to underestimate this man.
Even if Trump doesn’t read, can’t follow a logical argument, and has the attention span of a fruit fly, it still doesn’t follow that he’s stupid.
There’s another form of intelligence, called “emotional intelligence.”
Emotional intelligence is a concept developed by two psychologists, John Mayer of the University of New Hampshire, and Yale’s Peter Salovey, and it was popularized by Dan Goleman in his 1996 book of the same name.
Mayer and Salovey define emotional intelligence as the ability to do two things – “understand and manage our own emotions,” and “recognize and influence the emotions of others.”
Granted, Trump hasn’t displayed much capacity for the first. He’s thin-skinned, narcissistic, and vindictive. As dozens of Republican foreign policy experts put it, “he is unable or unwilling to separate truth from falsehood. He does not encourage conflicting views. He lacks self-control and acts impetuously. He cannot tolerate criticism.”
Okay, but what about Mayer and Salovey’s second aspect of emotional intelligence – influencing the emotions of others?
This is where Trump shines. He knows how to manipulate people. He has an uncanny ability to discover their emotional vulnerabilities – their fears, anxieties, prejudices, and darkest desires – and use them for his own purposes.
To put it another way, Trump is an extraordinarily talented conman.
He’s always been a conman. He conned hundreds of young people and their parents into paying to attend his near worthless Trump University. He conned banks into lending him more money even after he repeatedly failed to pay them. He conned contractors to work for them and then stiffed them.
Granted, during he hasn’t always been a great conman. Had he been, his cons would have paid off.
By his own account, in 1976, when Trump was starting his career, he was worth about $200 million, much of it from his father. Today he says he’s worth some $8 billion. If he’d just put the original $200 million into an index fund and reinvested the dividends, he’d be worth $12 billion today.
But he’s been a great political conman. He conned 62,979,879 Americans to vote for him in November 2016 by getting them to believe his lies about Mexicans, Muslims, African-Americans, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and all the “wonderful,” “beautiful” things he’d do for the people who’d support him.
And he’s still conning many of them.
Political conning is Trump’s genius