By Michael J. Cozzillio and Craig N. Moore
Irony is frequently cruel but never more cruel than our current political landscape. President Donald Trump’s antipathy toward any type of meaningful diversity has served as an unintentional camouflage of his greatest flaws, incompetence and intellectual bankruptcy.
He has never possessed the basic credentials that equip one for elevation to high office – and it shows! He is either blissfully unaware of his own ignorance or he has no desire to improve his abysmal level of sophistication. Most recently, his reaction to the Mueller Report and its overwhelming evidence of executive malfeasance demonstrate his unfitness to run a country.
A compelling illustration of his lack of depth is the company that he chooses to keep and, worse, opts to elevate. His partners in crime, literally and figuratively, present a dismal portrait of inexperience, imperiousness, dishonesty, bigotry, greed, and outright meanness.
A (dirty) laundry list includes Michael Flynn, Tom Price, Michael Cohen, Paul Manafort, George Papadopoulos, Scott Pruitt, Jeff Sessions, Matt Whitaker, Ryan Zinke, to name only a few.
Liberal or Conservative, Whig or Tory, is anyone willing to place this gang of miscreants on a most admired roster? Perhaps a most wanted list? His appointments and associations alone demonstrate his abject lack of political acumen – he is not draining the swamp, he is stocking it.
Another sign of one’s lack of intelligence is gullibility. Hearing Trump accept protestations of innocence from Kim Jung Un, Vladimir Putin, and Mohammed Bin Salman in a variety of homicidal contexts is telling.
Despite overwhelming evidence of these actors’ murderous tendencies and unabashed willingness to effectuate these base instincts, Trump continues to accept their incredible denials and, in the process, embrace their friendship. One ineluctable conclusion is that he is either extremely slow-witted or grossly disingenuous.
Either way, there is cause for only dismay or trepidation.
In the strangest twist of fate, his aberrant personality has regrettably placed any critical assessment of his ludicrous braggadocio about his brilliance on the back burner.
As a point of reference, do you have any idea about the raw brain power, work ethic, or political savvy of Idi Amin, Pol Pot, or Augusto Pinochet? Of course you do not because their lack of human decency and their genocidal madness occupy seats in the front row of our consciousness.
“They were so vile, I never noticed that they were so stupid.”
Trump’s racism, xenophobia, misogyny, and other disreputable traits have led us to disregard his abject lack of smarts and good judgment.
Thus, if he were not so morally, spiritually, and socially challenged, pundits would be asking, as they would of any other world leader, “Does he have a clue about the world around him – its present, past, and future? Does he have the right stuff? Is he big enough for the job?”
In a reprehensible, yet incredibly unusual, display of self-awareness, he apparently has attempted to insure that various indicia of his educational performance never see the light of day.
He has endeavored to insulate this data from disclosure, not by pursuing statutory vehicles that might have guaranteed him certain privacy rights, but by allegedly directing his operatives to play the bully card against several institutions of higher learning.
If those records established a legacy of academic achievement, we may rest assured that the transcripts would be prominently displayed throughout the five boroughs.
The sad and dangerous reality is that Trump’s gravitas has never been fully explored because the media and their audiences are understandably preoccupied with, or at least distracted by, the much more salacious issues surrounding his interpersonal foibles on countless levels.
Why has he received a pass when it comes to mispronouncing names of countries, not knowing anything about those nations’ leadership, manifesting an ignorance of civics, rhetoric, human psychology, and similar deficiencies that would embarrass an adolescent.
Because we have zoomed in on his character flaws and his litany of contemptible “isms,” and have been irresistibly seduced, as it were, by their enormity. Yet, can we afford to ignore the fact that his lofty position demands substantially more than he can natively provide.
Oddly enough, if Trump were a virtuous fellow, other aspects of his persona would probably float to the top of the fishbowl. It is likely that with this shift in public scrutiny and curiosity, his absence of aptitude would become much more visible.
As part of that unveiling, his reluctance to read, his inability to maintain a reasonable attention span during important briefings, and his shallow reservoir of discipline would cease to be ignored, downplayed phenomena. Lacking cerebral qualities is a significant shortcoming, wallowing in intellectual indifference is an unforgivable one.
To those who would say, “but hasn’t the economy fared well, and isn’t the government running smoothly,” the simple response is that we are a great country with an amazing record of resilience. Our legacy would reinforce that America has survived and flourished on antecedent success, momentum, creditable foresight, a strong constitution (physical and legislated), an imperfect but very workable system of checks and balances, and a “deep bench” loaded with talented public servants.
But those things, like a plane automatically piloted by computer, cannot elude catastrophe forever, and a rudderless ship will eventually run aground. The job is too big for this charlatan. Let’s find something else for him to do, something that he can handle. And the opportunity for a career change may come as soon as 2020.
Michael J. Cozzillio is an Emeritus Professor of Law at Widener University Commonwealth Law School in Dauphin County. Craig N. Moore is a criminal defense attorney in Washington D.C.