The world was beginning to recuperate a bit from last month’s New York Times article about Trump calling Jeff Sessions an idiot and Sessions telling Trump to take the job and shove it (until cooler heads prevailed) until just the past 24 hours when videos of Trump tossing paper towels at disaster victims hit the airwaves, followed by NBC breaking the story of Rex Tillerson’s opinion of his titular boss, stated last summer. We won’t bother with that poor overworked word “unprecedented” because Trump has rendered it an anachronism at best — but we will give high fives to Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo for coining the phrase “Trump’s Razor,” which states: “ascertain the stupidest possible scenario that can be reconciled with the available facts,” and that will be the truth. Israeli newspaper Haaretz tests the new axiom by exploring the question, is Trump really that stupid or is there another explanation? Haaretz doesn’t pull any punches.
Stupidity is one of the more easily accessible and widespread explanations for Trump’s behavior. It’s no coincidence, of course, that his election resurrected the futuristic cult classic “Idiocracy’ about a dumbed down America that chooses a loutish porn actor as president. It’s true that Trump has claimed in the past that his IQ is much higher than that of Obama or of comedian John Stewart, but in that case, he’s doing an excellent job of concealing his intelligence, as his visit this week to Puerto Rico showed.
Some people ascribe Trump’s behavior in such events to obnoxious racism rather than stupidity. Prejudice and racial stereotypes are such a prominent feature of his personality, they maintain, that he just can’t keep them under lock. He has described himself as ‘the least racist person ever,” but since he launched his presidential run by describing Mexican immigrants as rapists and murderers, Trump has described Puerto Ricans as lazy, Muslims as wannabe terrorists, African-Americans as thugs, Jews as proficient with money and women as inferior sexual objects. It’s only among neo-Nazis, apparently, that Trump has found “some fine people.”
Others cite Trump’s sensational victory in the elections – assuming that it wasn’t all the result of a Russian sting operation – as proof of his political smarts. According to this view, all of Trump’s scandals, controversies, insults and inanities are but a ploy aimed at rallying his base, first to win the elections and then as leverage against the unruly Republican Party. Like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, Trump is a smart guy pretending to be a dunce. If that’s true, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should be worried by Barak Ravid’s report on Wednesday that Trump told the United Nations’ secretary general that the prime minister is more problematic that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. If Trump is a “moron,” on the other hand, as Tillerson testified, then his words about Netanyahu should be taken as seriously as his assertions about Obama’s birth certificate, his support for Marine Le Pen in the French elections and his praise for the homicidal Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, who will have the privilege of hosting Trump next month.
The article goes on to enumerate how many times Trump has shot himself in the foot, which would tend to decry the “stupid like a fox” theory. Firing James Comey was described by Steve Bannon as the worst presidential mistake ever, then admitting to Lester Holt on NBC a few days later that he “would have fired him anyhow,” over the Russia investigation provided grist for the obstruction of justice mill and made Robert Mueller’s job that much easier. It has all been a downhill slope ever since and Tillerson’s “fucking moron” comment is par for the course.