Too inept or not quite inept enough

Trump says he is too so smart enough to try to force Ukraine to investigate a political rival of his in exchange for military support. He’s totally that smart.

Last week, the editorial board of The Wall Street Journal launched a novel defense of Trump, who Democratic lawmakers allege—as Capitol Hill testimony from senior administration officials suggests—attempted to force the Ukrainian government to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, a top political rival of Trump’s, in exchange for military aid that was being held up. The newspaper’s esteemed board argued that any talk of impeaching Trump is silly, in large part, because this president is likely too bumbling to execute that kind of scandalous quid pro quo.

“Intriguingly, Mr. [Bill] Taylor says in his statement that many people in the administration opposed the [Rudy] Giuliani effort, including some in senior positions at the White House,” the editorial board wrote. “This matters because it may turn out that while Mr. Trump wanted a quid-pro-quo policy ultimatum toward Ukraine, he was too inept to execute it.”

What?? But he’s a genius! It says so right here!

Trump, a routine morning reader and skimmer of several newspapers’ print editions, saw this editorial—which was obviously meant to defend him—last week. And the president promptly began complaining about it to some of those close to him.

“[The president] mentioned he had seen it and then he started saying things like, ‘What are they talking about, if I wanted to do quid pro quo, I would’ve done the damn quid pro quo,’ and… then defended his intelligence and then talked about how ‘perfect’ the call [with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky] was,” said a source familiar with Trump’s reaction to the Journal editorial. Another person familiar with the president’s comments on the matter corroborated the account.

The public “transcript” doesn’t show a “perfect” conversation, but in any case the “transcript” was doctored. Some of what he said was removed.

Trump has long been highly sensitive to any jabs, real or perceived, at his level of intelligence or competence. In July, for instance, he tweeted that he is “smart,” a “true Stable Genius!” and also “so great looking.

Senior officials working in Trump’s West Wing are also often tasked with defending the president’s alleged brain power.

But it doesn’t work like that. They can say it all they like, but we can still watch him when he says things, so we can see how absent his brain power is.

7 Responses to “Too inept or not quite inept enough”