Ignorant and incurious

46. He knows little and doesn’t care to know more.

One need only consider George W. Bush to conclude that DT is hardly the first U.S. president whose ignorance has been on public display, but there’s a critical difference between the two: DT neither cares that everyone knows he’s ignorant nor is willing to lift a finger to become better informed. This sorry situation became obvious soon after his sparsely attended inauguration, when word leaked out that the new president either wouldn’t or couldn’t read anything more than one page long. Staff were obliged to provide him with short bulleted lists of key points if they wanted any level of confidence that he was paying attention at all.

Presidents are supposed to pay attention to the world around them and the world beyond. Only by having a working knowledge of current events, and being able to make sense of them by having some grasp of history and science, can a president possibly hope to pursue policies that are beneficial, attainable, and devoid of unintended pitfalls dooming them to failure. The more presidents know, the better they are equipped to lead their country effectively without making major blunders. Considering that the U.S. president has the power to start a thermonuclear war, it really behooves them to know a little something. But DT wears his ignorance like a badge of honor, and his core followers lap it up.

DT may not know that the United Kingdom is a nuclear power or how to pronounce Yosemite, but he does know how to stiff contractors, finagle bank officers, and cheat consumers. He also knows how to lie through his teeth, how to promise one thing while fully intending to do the opposite, and how to stonewall the press and the public in the bargain. He surely knows how to whip up crowds of racists into a frenzy of hate. And of course he knows how to make the Republicans in Congress pursue fiscal policies benefiting himself and his family and friends. Above all else, perhaps, he knows how to make himself accountable to no one, above the law, just like any two-bit dictator of any banana republic in history. And it’s said that he knows his fabric swatches. Is this the sort of person worthy of reelection in a time of pandemic, climate emergency, and economic depression?

Unintelligent or just uninformed?

Ignorance and lack of intelligence aren’t the same thing at all, but they often go hand in hand. Is DT stupid as well as ignorant? It depends on your definition of intelligence. Anyone responsible for as many monumental failures as he is who is still capable of filling 20 percent of a stadium in the midst of a pandemic cannot be entirely stupid. On the other hand, spiders are highly capable of catching insects, and frogs are very, very capable of catching flies, but nobody would claim any of them are intelligent.


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