Is Donald Trump an idiot? The answer is truly worrying
Yonden Lhatoo finds questions about Donald Trump’s mental fitness not only justified but ominous as well, given the real threat of war and disaster under his leadership
Is the 45th president of the United States truly an idiot?
It’s an old question that’s being asked with increasing frequency these days, brought to the fore by some of Donald Trump’s own cabinet members testifying to that effect.
During a recent ceremony at the White House to honour Navajo veterans of the second world war who saved so many American lives by using their native language as a code that the enemy could never crack, he made a jaw-droppingly inappropriate attempt at levity that could only be described as infantile and imbecilic.
“You were here long before any of us were here,” he told the elderly code talkers. “Although we have a representative in Congress who they say was here a long time ago. They call her Pocahontas.”
He was taking a petty swipe at Democratic senator Elizabeth Warren, a political opponent whom he has repeatedly mocked over her dubious claim of Cherokee ancestry. Even if Warren made it up, there’s nothing remotely funny about using Pocahontas as a caricature of native American heritage and ancestry, real or fabricated.
Many Americans are only familiar with the romantic, Disneyfied version of the 17th century frontier icon as an Indian princess who fell in love with a handsome white man and lived happily ever after. The real story is an unsavoury tale of colonisation, involving an underage girl who was raped, kidnapped, and used as a political pawn before her tragic death at the age of 21. Only a man like Trump could make fun of that.
Small wonder that politicians, personalities and even members of his own cabinet have cast doubt on his mental capacity. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson may be on his way out after not only calling his boss a “moron” but prefixing it with the f-word as an adjective for emphasis. And, more recently, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster reportedly called Trump an “idiot” and “kindergartener”.
Name calling aside, many Americans are questioning whether Trump is mentally fit to occupy the office of the most powerful person on the planet.
Tony Shwartz, who co-authored Trump’s memoir, The Art of the Deal, claims the president’s aides are “terrified” that “a man who is deeply mentally ill” is running the country. “All of America needs to understand that this is a person who is now exceptionally dangerous because he is losing his grip,” he said.
Psychiatrists and other mental health experts have also raised the alarm over “the clear and present danger” posed by Trump.
Here’s a verbatim transcript of his remarks on Washington’s nuclear deal with Iran to illustrate the insanity: “The thing that really bothers me, it would have been so easy, and it’s not as important as these lives are, nuclear is powerful, my uncle explained that to me many, many years ago, the power, and that was 35 years ago, he would explain the power of what’s going to happen and he was right, who would have thought, who would have thought ...” Say what?
As comedian John Oliver so succinctly put it: “That is not a functional use of language. That is a drunk driver crashing a pickup truck full of alphabet soup. Trump’s actual speech patterns sound like when you write a long text by choosing only the predictive text your iPhone chooses for you. An iPhone would be a more coherent president of the United States.”
Is Trump an idiot? “Yes, monumentally so,” seems to be the ready answer, based on the overwhelming evidence at hand.
I find myself listening to Green Day’s American Idiot a lot these days. It would all be hysterically funny if it wasn’t for the real risk of Armageddon à la Trump, starting with North Korea.
Yonden Lhatoo is the chief news editor at the Post