President Trump does not read — except in small doses and when his own name appears prominently. Prior to the presidency, his only activities were work and golf. He does not mingle with intellectuals, cultural trend-setters or artists. It should come as no surprise — and it has not — that he is sorely lacking in sophistication, knowledge of the world, understanding of government and a rudimentary grasp of economics. Sitting atop arguably the great resource on the planet — the body of knowledge retained by American government experts on everything from economics to medicine to military history — he remains blissfully ignorant on a range of subjects. He surrounds himself with dim yes men who know little more than he and, in any event, tremble at the prospect of correcting their “Dear Leader.” But sometimes you wonder whether Trump is just, well, dumb.
President Donald Trump has been handing out his cellphone number to world leaders and urging them to call him directly, an unusual invitation that breaks diplomatic protocol and is raising concerns about the security and secrecy of the U.S. commander in chief’s communications.
Trump has urged leaders of Canada and Mexico to reach him on his cellphone, according to former and current U.S. officials with direct knowledge of the practice. Of the two, only Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has taken advantage of the offer so far, the officials said. . . .
“If you are speaking on an open line, then it’s an open line, meaning those who have the ability to monitor those conversations are doing so,” said Derek Chollet, a former Pentagon adviser and National Security Council official now at the German Marshall Fund of the United States.
For someone who mocked Hillary Clinton for setting up a home email server that was vulnerable to hacking, Trump and his negligence defy explanation. Either he does not understand that his calls might be intercepted or does not care.
As a matter of self-preservation, however, one would think he would very much care if American enemies including terrorists could determine his whereabouts. (How is it, by the way, that American intelligence services condoned his using an unsecured line?) One would think he would be tired of being embarrassed when the content of calls is made public. It is times such as this when one wishes national security adviser H.R. McMaster had not frittered away his credibility spinning for the president and instead had the wherewithal to put his foot down and tell the president that he cannot behave in such a fashion.
When one considers this behavior and that of his son-in-law Jared Kushner, who allegedly discussed a secret communication line using Russian facilities, several explanations come to mind. First, this behavior reflects the degree to which these neophytes on the world stage are hopelessly unschooled and naive. Alternatively, their behavior denotes a shocking propensity for recklessness, even with their own financial and personal security (risking blackmail, among other things). That recklessness seems without purpose. (What goal would be served by talking on unsecured cellphone lines or on Russian lines that could not be accomplished on approved lines of communication?) Alternatively, maybe these people are paranoid conspiratorialists (who make Sean Hannity sound sane by comparison), convinced that the only thing they have to fear is the American “deep state” (or some such nonsense).
Whatever the explanation, Trump does not evidence any greater knowledge or sophistication than he possessed when he entered office. You’d think he would have learned something in four months. Then again, maybe the rudimentary practices of government are simply beyond him. One need not be a psychiatrist nor an educator to see that he is incapable of performing the functions of his job — executing the laws, keeping the nation’s secrets, following routine security procedures. In short, maybe he is not compromised nor mentally ill, but simply dumb.