Is President Donald Trump Really A Genius, Or Just Really Smart At Playing Dumb? [Opinion]

Andrew HarnikAP Images

President Donald Trump has undoubtedly become the social media president. There isn’t a day that passes without Trump stirring up some sort of controversy on Twitter. This past week has proven to be extraordinary, even by President Trump’s standards. As we begin a new week, the mainstream media is in a feeding frenzy over Trump’s Twitter claims that he is a “very stable genius.” Trump’s claims came after comments attributed to his former chief strategist Steve Bannon in the recently released book by Michael Wolff.

As reported by the BBC, Wolff’s book, Fire and Fury, is full of explosive claims. With Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged collusion between the Trump election campaign team and Russia in full swing, it is Bannon’s comments about meetings with the Russians that are potentially the most damaging. Bannon allegedly described those meetings as “treason.”

As reported by CNN, Bannon has now released a statement in which he seeks to roll back on his comments. Bannon’s statement claims that his comments were aimed at former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort, and not at Donald Trump Jr. as was originally claimed. Let’s examine that claim. Bannon claims that Manafort committed treason by meeting with Russian officials who were offering information damaging to Hillary Clinton.

Manafort, who has already been indicted by the Mueller investigation, attended that meeting with Donald Trump Jr. and with Trump’s top advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner. Forgive me for stating the obvious, but if one Trump advisor at that meeting was committing treason, then surely everyone involved is equally guilty? Not according to Steve Bannon, who now claims that “Donald Trump, Jr. is both a patriot and a good man.”

Donald Trump Genius Bannon Wolff
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Many will see Bannon’s latest comments as duplicitous. Yesterday senior White House official Stephen Miller echoed Trump’s claims that he is a genius. As reported by The Guardian, Miller appeared on CNN’s State Of The Union magazine program for an interview that got so heated that Miller allegedly found himself escorted from the set by security. Miller described President Trump as a “political genius.”

Is President Trump Mentally Fit For Office?

The Guardian also reports on the fact that 27 forensic psychiatrists have assessed President Trump’s behavior and concluded that he is “dangerous.” They claim that Trump has shown that he is “impulsive, reckless, paranoid, belligerent, lacks empathy, and has a loose grip on reality.” Those things, they claim, add up to a propensity for violence, not something that one wants to see in the leader of the free world.

Interestingly, and perhaps worryingly, another of President Trump’s Twitter messages last week displayed many of those traits. Trump tweeted that he has “a bigger and more powerful nuclear button” than North Korea’s Kim Jong-un. Seriously, this is the president of the United States uttering the presidential equivalent of a 6-year-old in a playground spat claiming “my dad is bigger than your dad.”

It is these traits that lead many to believe that President Trump is mentally unstable and unfit to hold the office of president. Of course, there is another way to look at this.

Donald Trump Genius Bannon Wolff
Featured image credit: Andrew HarnikAP Images

Trump’s supporters buy into the narrative that the president is unfairly treated by just about everyone. Trump campaigned hard on the promise that he would be a very different sort of president, and no one can deny that he has honored that promise. President Trump has built his support around the idea that only he can be trusted to tell the truth. He dismisses any criticism as “fake news,” and both attacks and demeans anyone who says anything he doesn’t like.

President Trump has now labeled Steve Bannon, a man he once described as “a great man,” as “sloppy Steve.” Let’s remember that Bannon is widely credited as the brains behind the operation that won Trump the election.

Trump seems to have perfected the art of playing dumb. His comments are often so outrageous that his opponents claim that President Trump is crazy. Interestingly, Trump’s supporters don’t seem to care how outrageous or offensive the president’s comments are. They simply buy into the lie.

As reported by the Independent, Jared Kushner told them that President Trump believes that Republicans “are stupid enough” to buy into whatever he tells them. Trump appeals to people’s fears and basic instincts. It hardly matters whether he even believes the things he claims so long as he can convince others. Trump plays at being dumb because he believes his core support will identify with that.

Whether you love or loathe President Donald Trump, you have to admit that it takes a special kind of genius to sell being dumb as a good thing.