I think many of my age peers—in their mid 70’s—would agree on this: an important thing our life experience has taught us is that there are many ways of being smart, and many ways of being stupid.
David Brooks identifies one aspect of Trump’s stupidity:
Goldberg says Trump told people that he sees the war dead as “suckers” and “losers.” Trump can’t seem to fathom the emotional experience of their lives — their love for those they fought for, the fears they faced down, the resolve to risk their lives nonetheless.
If he can’t see that, he can’t understand the men and women in uniform serving around him. He can’t understand the inner devotion that drives people to public service, which is supposed to be the core of his job.
The same sort of blindness is on display in the Woodward quotes. It was stupid of Trump to think he could downplay Covid-19 when he already knew it had the power of a pandemic. It was stupid to think the American people would panic if told the truth. It was stupid to talk to Woodward in the first place.
This is not an intellectual stupidity. I imagine Trump’s I.Q. is fine. It is a moral and emotional stupidity. He blunders so often and so badly because he has a narcissist’s inability to get inside the hearts and minds of other people. It’s a stupidity that in almost pure clinical form, flows out of his inability to feel, a stupidity of the heart.
But stupidity of the heart does not necessarily imply a stupid inability to grasp the link between cause and effect. John Doe may be morally blind—but still understand that if he sticks the dinner fork into an electrical outlet, he is going to get a bad shock. Andy Borowitz writes,
WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—In a decision that surprised many political insiders, Donald J. Trump has agreed to be interviewed for a new book by Joe Biden.
According to Biden, the book will be “an in-depth examination of the Trump Presidency, with special emphasis on his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and his comments about the military.”
Trump said that, when Biden approached him about the book project, “I moved on it very strongly.”
“This is a fantastic opportunity for me, quite frankly,” Trump said. “It’s going to be a major book, and I think Joe is going to make me look really good in it.”
Asked about the logistics of the interview, Trump said, “Joe told me to call him up late at night and just start rambling. This is the kind of thing I’m really, really good at, because I’m very smart.”
Biden’s book, titled “Don’t Vote for Donald Trump,” is set to go on sale a week before the election.