Mama told me when I was young
“Come sit beside me, my only son
And listen closely to what I say
And if you do this it’ll help you some sunny day.”
“And be a simple kind of man
Oh, be something you love and understand
Baby be a simple kind of man
Oh, won’t you do this for me, son, if you can.”
Simple Man, Lynyrd Skynyrd
Now approaching 100 days of the single most incompetent administration in American history so far, The Donald® has discovered, among other things: 1) That health care reform is complicated; 2) That China and Korea have ancient animosities that inform their relations to this day; 3) That government is big, costly, often inefficient, and difficult to manage; 4) That the UN and NATO have been crucial in maintaining a stable world order since World War II; and 5) That the Middle-east is a centuries old, savage, bloody pit-fight managed and run by corrupt, theocratic and/or oligarchic governments run by some of the worst people in the world.
In short, Trump has been finding out that he doesn’t know very much outside of New York real estate and is ill-suited to be the president. Or, put another way, #45 is simply ignorant about many, many things. That is not a criticism. We are all ignorant about some things. But Trump continues to believe that he’s the smartest guy in whatever room he happens to occupy, about everything, because his narcissistic ego tells him so. And he loves listening to that devil because he’s become the lowest form of crack-whore for self-flattery and self-aggrandisement.
Unfortunately, his bottomless appetite for both is precisely what makes him stupid. It’s kind of like watching someone smoke a cigarette through a tracheal ventilator. It’s sadly, tragically, horrific.
The problem with stupid people is that quite often they don’t know that they’re stupid. Many of them think that they’re smart. And they get very, very angry when smart people point out that they’re stupid. Smart people like journalists, judges and economists who write news stories, legal opinions, and reports that shine a light on stupid actions, stupid decisions, and stupid policies. Not ignorant actions, not ill-informed decisions, not uneducated policies − stupid ones.
The antidote for stupidity is humility, the acquisition of specific knowledge about specific subject matter, and reliance on expertise in the absence of a deeper understanding. Trump has no humility, he has an obviously limited fund of knowledge, and he denigrates and disparages expertise. He believes that he’s smarter than the generals, smarter than the diplomats, smarter than the spooks, smarter than the scientists, smarter than the policy experts. He has absolutely no rational basis for believing these things, but he does anyway. He is forced to reverse his positions and revise his opinions again and again. And the feedback he gets from all quarters universally contradicts his boundless hubris, yet he rejects all criticism and contrary evidence that shows himself to himself in a light he doesn’t like because it doesn’t agree with his self-image.
Taken in concert, this is precisely what makes Trump a very, very stupid man. He has no true sense of himself or of how he comports himself, of how his current actions are influenced by past actions, or how current actions might affect future actions. That is the very definition of stupidity: having no guiding sense or insight.
And that’s why it’s a dead certainty that both Trump-the-candidate and his campaign staff colluded with Russian foreign intelligence operatives working directly for Putin to skew the 2016 presidential election on Trump’s behalf. Russia has a long history of interfering in the elections of other countries. They are interfering in European elections at this very moment. The US, too, has a long history of interfering in the elections of other nations. Along with proxy wars, interfering in the elections of other nations was a major component of the decades-long Cold War between the US and the USSR. And it continues to this day.
Besides, Putin hates Hillary for supporting regime change during her tenure as Secretary of State and was enraged by her statements in support of anti-Putin protesters in December of 2011, who claimed Putin had rigged the parliamentary elections. He vowed revenge. And he got it.
Therein lies the key to understanding why Trump will be impeached and forced to resign. There is no law that prevents Russia or any other country from attempting to interfere with our elections. There are laws against espionage. There are laws against cyber intrusion and hacking. There are laws against political candidates and campaigns colluding with foreign governments to influence the outcome of elections. There are laws against government officials − including retired generals − taking money from foreign governments. There are lots of laws against corruption of all kinds. But political corruption is something distinct from business corruption. Having never held public office before being elected President, Trump had little direct experience with what constitutes political corruption. Winning a political election is not the same thing as having either political competence, or competence in office.
Business corruption is commonplace in Trump’s world. He learned his business dealings in the corrupt world of New York real estate, where to get anything done he had to grease a lot of corrupt people: mayors and county commissioners, building inspectors, suppliers and contractors, union reps, local wiseguys. Trump has holdings around the world, in countries rife with corruption, in countries where corruption by government officials has been a part of the culture for centuries, where he had to grease a lot of people to get projects approved, licenses issued, materials and equipment passed through customs, and so on.
Because he is a stupid man, Trump has repeatedly mistaken business skills for political skills − he has failed repeatedly to see a distinction between the two. He has repeatedly revealed that he views the presidency as a modified form of corporate CEO: You tell people what to do, set your expectations for success, and they go and do it or you fire them and find someone else. He has repeatedly mistaken his opinions for facts and what he views as important as a de facto standard for what others should view as important, as well. Because he is a stupid man, he makes no distinction between business corruption and political corruption. For Trump, corruption is business dealings is not important. Achieving the end goal is important and having to grease some individuals here and there to get things moving along − the very reason why it’s called “grease” − is just part of how things work. Business, government, it’s all the same to a stupid man.
There can be no doubt that a deal was struck between Trump and Putin via their respective operatives. Russia would provide the information gleaned from hacking into the DNC and John Podesta’s email accounts. They would launch a disinformation campaign attacking Clinton’s candidacy directly at her most vulnerable points with fake news stories and paid trolls. They would provide material and monetary support. In exchange, they wanted economic sanctions lifted, a re-start in US-Russia relations as a public policy position advocated by candidate Trump, and a couple of friendly faces − people Putin and his lieutenants know and like − placed in high positions in the administration (where they could keep an eye on the store).
Stupidly, Trump looked at that deal and grabbed it. He believed there was little likelihood that he would actually win the election to begin with and, if he won, the deal Putin wanted would be worth it. There wasn’t that much to it, just a few ‘gimmes’. If he actually won and had to deliver, he thought there was little likelihood he’d get caught. Was he thinking about the deal Nixon cut with South Vietnamese President Thieu to scuttle peace talks ahead of the 1968 presidential election? Was he thinking about the guns-for-hostages deal Reagan cut with Iran during the 1980 campaign to unseat President Carter? After all, it took years for knowledge about those corrupt acts to be discovered. Did either Nixon or Reagan go to jail? No? Then why worry. Big guys like us don’t worry about managing the details or going to jail. That’s scut-work for little guys. Little guys go to jail.
While it’s possible, it’s unlikely. Trump hasn’t shown much interest in history and it’s been reported that he never reads books − unless they are books about Donald Trump. Perhaps the better explanation is that, because he is a stupid man, he did not understand the magnitude of the crimes he was about it engage in. He did not understand that in business, you can get away with innumerable acts of corruption for decades, if not altogether, and unless somebody gets hurt nobody much gives a sh*t. On the other hand, if someone cops a beef and squeals, or rolls over on an unrelated felony charge, you can always hire a battery of lawyers to make it look like something else. Businessmen can and do hide behind the corporate veil and almost never go to jail unless they are very, very stupid. But political corruption is quite different. Political leaders have nowhere to hide, except behind lies and lies are a flimsy shield. Besides, business corruption is a yawner. Political corruption is sensational. It boosts advertising sales. It puts a fire in the bellies of reporters and editors who fancy themselves the newest Knights Errant of the Fourth Estate. No, it’s much more likely that Trump simply didn’t understand the magnitude of his crimes. Because he’s stupid.
It’s worth noting that in his more unguarded moments, Trump actually revealed some of the broad outlines of the deal he struck with Putin, as well as his naive understanding of how the deal was supposed to work, such as when he suggested that “… Russia: If you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 [Clinton] emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.” Putin must have rolled his eyes when he heard that one and said to himself, “This guy is too stupid to live. Major win for me.”
The very notion that Trump would publicly suggest that a longstanding geopolitical adversary should commit an act of espionage against a rival political leader, a hostile act having national security implications, and that that adversary should expect some form of reward for their efforts, speaks volumes not only about the integrity of the man but also what was actively present in his mind. The fact that he made that statement publicly, without a second thought, means that he has no internal editor worthy of the name. That is all the proof you need that Trump is a very stupid man.
Moreover, Trump spent a lot of time both before and after the election denying that Russia was behind the DNC/Podesta email hacks, regardless of the universal agreement among government security agencies that it was. When FBI Director Comey stated before Congress that Russia was indeed behind the hacks, Trump used a tiny portion of Comey’s testimony to deny that those hacks had any influence on the outcome of the election. And now that the FBI is investigating the possibility of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, he denounces it as “fake news.” He thinks he can control how others perceive his actions. That, too, is the action of a stupid man.
From his behaviors subsequent to the election, it is obvious that Trump learned the magnitude of his error within a very few days. No doubt Putin’s agents provocateurs had a sit-down with several members of his campaign team, who are now under investigation, to make sure via multiple channels that the message got through to the new president-elect, wherein the startling facts of life were laid out in stark detail. Perhaps the most important of those meetings occurred over two days in the Seychelles between Erik Prince (Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s brother) and one of Putin’s surrogates nine days before Trump’s inauguration. Was he told they had a dossier with evidence of Trump’s and his campaign team’s corruption? Was he told they had dates, times, names, recorded conversations, photographs, bank and phone records, etc.? If so, it would constitute a classic − almost cliche − recruitment of a foreign agent by an intelligence service using coercion, based on first corrupting that agent with sex or money and then blackmailing them with threats of exposure. It would be cliche, except that the foreign agent the Russians corrupted is now the President of the United States.
Stupidly, Trump didn’t recognize and understand the difference between business corruption and political corruption until it was too late. Putin, a man who had climbed to the apex of power in a world of apex predators, recognized a fool in Trump and played him for a fool. Stupidly, Trump the Narcissist, always buoyant from a bloated ego, believed he could weasel his way out of trouble no matter how tight a spot he found himself in. He’d always done so before. Fire a couple of little guys so you can later lay-off the blame on them. Purge your email accounts and shred any paper records. Buy off the bigger guys with money and pussy, or award them plumb contracts and give their wives and sweethearts plumb no-show jobs. Put out a burn notice on the principle witnesses. Attack the media and the courts to undermine their credibility before they can attack you. Build an alibi. Make stuff up to deflect media attention away from you to other stories and stonewall investigators however you can.
No doubt that’s why FBI Director Comey is proceeding so very, very carefully. Comey may be a too-tall, too-tight gumshoe in a cheap suit, but he’s far from stupid. From what I can tell, he’s a walking anachronism: one of the Old Untouchables, a man of real integrity. And he runs an agency that has been in the business of collecting the deep dope on all the Washington bottom-feeders since the Bureau’s inception. Trump’s crimes represent a whole new chapter in American history and Comey knows it. This isn’t another Senator caught in a motel room with an underage hooker. This isn’t a Congressman caught with bundles of cash in Ziplock® bags in a downstairs freezer. Nothing remotely like it has ever been seen before. So Comey is proceeding cautiously, carefully, marshalling all the resources necessary to put forward an ironclad investigation, taking his time to do it right. It may take another year before he issues his report, but rest assured that one day soon a report will be forthcoming.
And when it comes out, Trump will fall.