Pea-brained

31. He isn’t very smart

At the first (and likely the only) presidential debate, the incumbent president made a big deal about the supposed lack of intelligence of his rival. “Don’t ever use the word smart with me,” he snarled. “There’s nothing smart about you, Joe.” Then he sneered at Biden’s proclivity for wearing a mask. Seventy-two hours later, the not-so-smart former vice president is relaxing safely at home in Delaware, while Mr. Intelligent is confined to a hospital room, hoist by his own petard.

Did anyone not see this coming? It’s true that stupid, malicious people often get away with things that ensnare their betters, but DT’s behavior was so consistently risky for so long that it was almost a foregone conclusion he’d become infected sooner or later. He spent the better part of the year refusing to wear a mask, showing no regard whatsoever for the vast numbers of people with whom he came in close contact. He lured them to his campaign rallies, where everybody sprayed one another with aerosol droplets. He disregarded—and disrespected—the leading infectious-disease experts in the country because…well, one supposes it was because he’s so much smarter than they are.

His arrogance knows no bounds, and now it has made a bad situation worse for himself and his party. The same party he’s been leading down a perilous path with a sheer dropoff on both sides and no guardrails. The precise effect on his campaign, and on the campaigns of his vulnerable Senate enablers, is unknown at this point, but it is not likely to be a net positive. A few sad people will vote for him and his cronies out of misplaced sympathy, but even wavering undecideds are smart enough to understand basic cause and effect. Well, most of them. DT apparently isn’t. Maybe he’s marginally smart enough but thought he could beat the odds. Or maybe he just doesn’t care.

Smart is as smart does

Much has been written about intelligence taking different forms. It is often expressed as having as many as nine modalities. Who knows how smart Joe Biden really is? Considering his enormously successful political career (with more to come!) and the personal setbacks he’s overcome, he seems pretty damn smart, at least in certain important ways. He is certainly highly adept at what he does. In contrast, he only things DT seems to be good at is hoodwinking large groups of gullible people and staying out of prison. (That may change.) His emotional or interpersonal intelligence is certainly nil. Moreover, his equating of academic performance with intelligence is strange for someone who paid someone else to take the SAT for him.

In any event, smart people don’t generally go around telling other people they’re not smart. When one does, it’s a good bet that they’re projecting their own deep-seated inadequacies outward. Let’s vote that one out of office and replace him with someone who has useful smarts. And good manners.

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