Plausible Idiocy

One of our favorite SNL sketches is thirty years old. In it, Phil Hartman plays Ronald Reagan in the Oval Office, doing his Charming Old Codger bit for visitors. But as soon as they leave, he takes charge, commanding his hapless minions with supreme intelligence and authority.

It was hilarious — then and now — because it was so obviously not the case, despite efforts to portray Reagan as fully engaged in his own administration. And when it aired in December 1986, the Iran-Contra scandal had been revealed only weeks earlier.

Similar sketches were written for George W. Bush, who might have been slightly more engaged than Reagan, but not nearly as engaged as Dick Cheney. Just imagine Will Ferrell saying “I’m the Decider”, and a whole era springs to mind.

And then there’s Donald Trump, who couldn’t be less engaged.

We knew this going in, of course, and we’ve all been entertained of late by numerous examples of what that amounts to. There are the Reaganesque one-page briefings, but with the added twist of more pictures. And if those aren’t sufficient, staff now knows to include Trump’s name in important paragraphs, because he’s sure to read those.

Still not enough? Fluff the boss on his electoral win. And if something’s really important, be the last person to talk to him, because Donald Trump’s head has room for only two thoughts, and one of those thoughts is always Donald Trump.

The picture that emerges from all these details is that Donald Trump is ridiculously easy to manipulate — a puppet who swears he’s a real boy. For someone we see as a World-Historical Con Man, Donald Trump is also the World’s Greatest Patsy.

Which hasn’t escaped the notice of the World’s Greatest Manipulator. You learn a thing or two in the KGB.

This leads us to a simple question: What if Donald Trump is telling the truth?

What if he didn’t personally interact with Russians during his campaign? What if he was totally unaware of what close advisers and relatives — Hi, Jared! — were getting on about?

You might think that insane, that nobody could be that stupid, especially an American President, and you would be totally adorable for thinking so.

You might instead think that the proposition is merely improbable, given Trump’s recent financial history with the Russians, which surely he must know some detail about, unless he was simply too grateful for their investments when most banks had turned their backs on him, and didn’t think to ask.

And you might reasonably consider the old trick where the boss knows but pretends he doesn’t, and there’s no way to prove otherwise.

We don’t recall when we first learned about “plausible deniability”. Must have been Watergate.

But looking at the evidence at hand, and what we know of the man from decades of life in public, it’s very possible that he truly is as fucking clueless as he seems, someone who won’t ask questions as long as you grease his palms and kiss his ass, someone who’s comfy fleecing the gullible while not realizing he’s being fleeced by the mighty.

And if this is possible, we have to allow for the possibility that Donald Trump may be personally innocent of foreign collusion by reason of stupidity.

7 comments:

7:42 am • Saturday • May 20, 2017

One has to be (to a certain extent) a Machiavellian manipulator to get this high a position of authority. I would be kind of disappointed otherwise. If he was what he believes (delusional) he is then his presidency wouldn’t be the farce it has been.

On the other hand, being a Forrest Gump lite born into money simpleton from an awful family falling into awkward situations through mere luck and timing isn’t exactly reassuring either. This means that all those fools and fatuous morons who bought his books like the putrid ‘”art” of the “deal”‘, watched his show and followed/believed him are quite the dumbest dumbfucks of dumbfucks (Hi sweaty Alex Jones and the GOP.)

I guess you’re right. A little from Column A and a little from Column B.

It didn’t hurt that the rabid rightwing dumbfucks are supreme tragic dumbfucks, that his GOP opponents like Ted Cruz are so pathetically out of their depth and that Hilsbot ran a horrid campaign (why the fuck didn’t you visit Wisconsin or MICHIGAN YOU ASSHOLE?!!!!??)

10:53 am • Saturday • May 20, 2017

But looking at the evidence at hand, and what we know of the man from decades of life in public, it’s very possible that he truly is as fucking clueless as he seems, someone who won’t ask questions as long as you grease his palms and kiss his ass, someone who’s comfy fleecing the gullible while not realizing he’s being fleeced by the mighty.

And if this is possible, we have to allow for the possibility that Donald Trump may be personally innocent of foreign collusion by reason of stupidity.

Yes. When one of the leaks came out and was something to the effect of, “I’m the only one in my campaign who hasn’t met you, Ambassador Spy” I wondered if that might be a clueless joke based on fact. Could it be that he had no idea? Oh, he’s definitely a crook, and I expect that people around him, HI, JARED, will be lawyering up with the quickness, and the thing that might eventually get him will be the Emoluments Clause. But not collusion.

What did the president know, and when did he know it? He’s incapable of knowing much, and that’s fucking sad.

Meanwhile, those around him are about to show their true loyalty and throw him under The Trump Bus. Based on his High Crimes and Misdemeanors. You can’t be Trump and not have committed those along the way just by being Trump.

10:55 am • Saturday • May 20, 2017

ETA: May the bus crush him into a whining pile of shit.

11:00 am • Saturday • May 20, 2017

TJ/ I’ve decoded another part of Parentese: How’s the job = Are you still employed?

4:14 pm • Sunday • May 21, 2017

There’s gotta be something severe that they can nail him on, laundering Ru$$ian mob munnie through real estate fraud would seem to be the most obvious. As a bonus they can tack on wire fraud, everyone’s favorite charge.

7:04 pm • Sunday • May 21, 2017

@¡Andrew!: Real estate deals are the most likely source to shake out some shenanigans — but the mole in that equation was flipped by the CIA years ago, so there goes Star Witness. (This from memory, but TPM Josh has details somewhere in his Trump archives.)

So the FBI would have to make that case the hard way. But I would presume that tax returns are but a subpoena away for them, and they can tease out details from there.

11:48 pm • Sunday • May 21, 2017

@JNOV: I thought of you (and me) as soon as I read this – best thing I’ve read about Chris Cornell.

xoxo

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