Donald Trump is so universally terrible, about everything, that it is impossible for past U.S. presidents to say two words without anything being interpreted as a dig aimed against him. When President Barack Obama tells a conference audience his own formula for presidential success, then, it is a given that all minds will turn to Captain Tweetsalot.
“What you have to do is create a process where you have confidence that whatever data is out there has been sifted, sorted and the core issues that are going to be important to your decision, you’re able to see it around. And that requires not just a good process but making sure you have a team that’s got a diversity of opinion.
“The other thing that’s helpful is not watching TV. Or, you know, reading, you know, social media.”
Hinty-hint-hint, and so forth.
While it’s the advice to turn off Twitter and the damn television already that’s gaining the most attention, the suggestion that you might want to have a team and process that sends you presifted, reliable information rather than just tossing you a folder of flattering news clippings each morning ought not fall by the wayside.
CNN quotes former Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau as being skeptical that any of this was aimed specifically at Trump, since Obama has been repeating that same advice since before Trump was even a candidate for president. He’s likely right, and it just happens that the ever-narcissistic, ever-disinterested and drama-seeking Trump has reliably stumbled into all the worst ways to run a nation. If Obama advised his audience not to lick electrical outlets or not to urinate in White House trash cans, both of those would be taken as digs against Trump as well. There is no avoiding it.
Trump’s biggest incompetence is an inability to tolerate staffers who tell him things he does not want to hear. That’s the thing that leads to all the rest of the muddle. And yes, it’s a part of the narcissism that has overwhelmed whatever else was left of his psyche, but it is also a product of him being an incurious grifting boor born into a family of equally terrible people, people who always had enough cash to survive their own incompetence. It’s a bit more dire now that the same incompetence is resulting in everything from trade wars to the occasional light treason.