I have to admit it. There have been times in the first 100 days of Donald Trump’s presidency when I have felt a tiny bit of compassion for him.
Most of the time he’s that arrogant, self-absorbed, egomaniacal Donald Trump who makes us want to riot in the streets; the Donald Trump who seems gleeful and to be enjoying his efforts to ruin the lives of others, including, but not limited to, the entire LGBT community, women, minorities, undocumented immigrants, anyone who doesn’t agree with him, anyone who enjoys clean air and water, and those currently getting health care through the Affordable Care Act.
But then there are the moments when he looks like a man-child in over his head, bumbling through a job that he doesn’t really want now that he has it. He looks dim, lost and pitiful; in those moments, I do feel the smallest amount of pity for him, like you would for a turtle stuck on his back.
It never lasts long, though, because he then tweets something, says something or signs something that makes you realize that an incapacitated turtle could make better decisions than our president. And with no hands, at least the turtle couldn’t tweet at 3 a.m.
I think I allow myself to pity the president because part of me feels better to think about him being dull-minded. That also doesn’t last long, however, because I think he’s shown himself to be easily manipulated, and he’s surrounded by a pack of insane wolves like Steve Bannon, who knows how easy it is to control the president; you just make him think that your idea was his idea. It’s a right-wing Jedi mind trick, and Trump follows along in true “these-are-not-the-droids-you’re-looking-for” fashion.
He rarely seems to know any details about the legislation or executive orders he’s passing, like health-care reform or that detail-less tax-cut plan he’s currently bragging about. He’s still blustering on about his November election victory over Hillary Clinton; he did it in several interviews held on his 100-day anniversary. Trump keeps railing against the lying media and fake news, while he passes off as fact things that any third-grade history student would know are complete fabrications.
In a completely self-serving interview with Salena Zito in The Washington Examiner, which lacked any honest criticism of the president, Trump started talking about how former President Andrew Jackson “was really angry that he saw what was happening with regard to the Civil War.” Jackson could have prevented the war, Trump asserted. But Jackson was a slave-owner. According to the website of his historic Hermitage Plantation, Jackson owned 150 slaves by the time he died in 1845 — 16 years before the start of the Civil War.
After calling Jackson a “swashbuckler,” Trump continued to spew nonsense that was so ridiculous that you wouldn’t even hear it on Drunk History. “People don’t realize, you know, the Civil War, you think about it, why? People don’t ask that question, but why was there the Civil War? Why could that one not have been worked out?”
I’m no historian myself, but I do recall the main driver of the war being the reluctance of callous white Southerners to stop enslaving and torturing blacks. And it couldn’t be worked out because those states wanted to continue to enslave and torture men, women and children. I assume that later this week White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer will educate the nation about “slavery centers.”
These are the moments that make me the most uneasy about Trump. I’m of course disturbed by the content of this interview. But I’m also really concerned about what goes on in his head that allows those things to come out. Trump is either a dolt who doesn’t know that what he’s saying is uninformed and, in this case, hateful gibberish, or this is the way this man sees the world.
In an April 28 interview with Fox News, Trump either displayed a complete ignorance of the way our government works — “There are archaic rules and maybe at some point, we’re going to have to take those rules on, because for the good of the nation, things are going to have to be different, you can’t go through a process like this. It’s not fair, it forces you to make bad decisions” — or he doesn’t care. Either way, it’s not good for the future of an already divided country.