This blog was originally going to have a strict “No Omarosa” policy, because it seemed to do otherwise was embarrassing. Why are we talking about this reality show washout who didn’t have a real job in the administration? Of course, we have a reality show President, and live in the dumbest and tackiest of all possible timelines, so there is a non-zero chance that fucking Omarosa will have a world-historic impact.
But until then, I want to ignore this sickening and degrading enterprise, and focus on another sickening and degrading enterprise: Politico’s little brief on what they laughingly call “Trump’s Diplomatic Learning Curve“, which accidentally implies that our President is learning.
By now, you’ve read most of the highlights: he had no idea that there were countries called “Nepal” and “Bhutan”; he doesn’t understand that foreign leaders might not always want to take his rambling and gormless call at all hours; he doesn’t quite grasp the idea that other countries have delicate relations with others, and don’t base their every move around Trump.
But what’s interesting in the piece is that while some of the interpretations are bandied about, few of the specifics are disputed, even by sources who are still, for no apparent reason, anonymous.
A White House official said Trump, as a former jet-setting global businessman, understands how time zones work but doesn’t dwell on such details when he wants to talk to a foreign leader. “He’s the president of the United States. He’s not stopping to add up” time differences, the official said.
I really like this quote, because it isn’t denying that he fails to take time zones into account, or to care that someone might be asleep. That Japan is on the other side of the world is just “details”. The implication is that only nerds stop to add, and the President is a man of action. Stupid nerds.
This sentiment is backed up beautifully by James Carafano, a big Washington muck-muck elite, who also advised the State Department transition team.
“If people are looking for more polish and more kind of conventional statecraft and that’s their metric for Trump learning, I think they’re going to be disappointed,” said Carafano, vice president for foreign policy at the Heritage Foundation. “I don’t think he sees those as faux pas; I think he sees them as, ‘Look, I do things differently.’ If you say, ‘That’s not how things are done,’ he says, ‘Who says? Where is it written down that I can’t do that?’”
Here’s a man who ostensibly is dedicating his life to foreign policy, who is an important member of a top think-tank, a man of great influence in Washington, who is basically saying that sure, the President might not “know stuff” or “be smart” or “have basic human decency as the basis for diplomacy”, but that’s ok. He does things differently.
(It’s also important to note that “differently”, for Trump supporters, is synonymous with good. It’s a de facto assumption, and a totem for the initiated. It’s how they maintain their faith in the face of overwhelming incompetence.)
But that’s not even my favorite quote. This one is.
At times, he wings it with unfortunate results. Meeting with a group of African countries at the United Nations General Assembly last September, Trump, in public remarks, referred to the country of Namibia as “Nambia.” (Trump did impress some of his own aides in the meeting, however. “He did a very good job of saying Côte d’Ivoire,” said one.)
Ah, but I could be bound in the nutshell of that parenthetical and consider myself the king of infinite flopsweat! Just imagine being impressed by that, or I guess being professionally bound to convince yourself that this was, indeed, impressive! Imagine being in that position. Imagine thinking that a metric of success is for your boss to not botch literally everything.
I wish I could just hear the surely-strong-but-intensely-patronizing lilt in how this aide pronounced “very”. I honestly could listen to that on an endless loop for the rest of my life.
This is all fun and stuff, but what we have is an army of enablers for the fake king. They spin his intense ignorance as strength and virtue, and are terrified of offering even the most gentle corrections. It would be one thing if we had a genial dipshit in office, some kind of holy dummy who just floats along on a cloud of their own regard, but we don’t. We have a volcanic manchild at the seat of immense power.
The thrust of this article, read between the lines, is that anyone close to Trump, including every foreign leader beside Trudeau, is too scared of setting him off to correct him or to push back. Everyone, for reasons of self-protection or hoping for the greater good or sheer craven careerism or maybe just broken cognitive dissonance and faith-based acceptance, let’s him operate in a bubble of selfish incompetence and unlettered self-regard.
Politico refers to Trump’s “learning curve”, but it is obvious he isn’t learning everything. The only curve is the rapid bending of light as all of us are getting sucked into his dark gravity. The world is warping around the single dumbest man of his time and contorting themselves to try to stay upright. It’s not working. We’re all increasingly deformed, and this November is our last best chance at straightening up.