“The world is laughing at us. They’re laughing at the stupidity of our president.”
– Donald Trump, October 2016
WASHINGTON – Stupid is as stupid does.
During the presidential campaign, Donald Trump remarked often on the stupidity of our leaders. He was under the impression that the rest of the planet was indulging in some sort of global guffaw at our expense. “How stupid are we? The world is laughing.” If so, what must the mirthful world think of our current state of affairs? This past week alone:
The House and Senate intelligence committees said they saw no evidence for President Trump’s wild claim that President Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower, and Britain protested that the White House falsely alleged that British intelligence was involved. White House press secretary Sean Spicer has been arguing that Trump didn’t mean wiretapping when he said Obama had Trump’s “wires tapped.” Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway suggested that eavesdropping could have been accomplished using microwave ovens.
Trump’s fellow Republicans pronounced his budget dead on arrival in Congress – “draconian, careless and counterproductive” were the words used by Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), former House Appropriations Committee chairman – because it recklessly cuts (slashing the State Department by nearly a third and targeting Meals on Wheels for the elderly) yet still adds to the debt Trump promised to eliminate.
Legislation to replace Obamacare stalled in Congress and had to be rewritten because of a rebellion within Trump’s own party.
A judge halted Trump’s second attempt at a ban on travel from several Muslim countries.
And Republican lawmakers probing Trump’s ties to Russia threatened subpoenas over the executive branch’s stonewalling.
In one of the presidential debates, CNBC’s John Harwood asked Trump if he was running “a comic book version of a presidential campaign.” Now Trump seems to be running a cartoon version of a presidency, and he’s Elmer Fudd. His proposals could, if successfully implemented, be ruinous. But so far, at least, Trump has been mercifully incompetent.
He and the GOP-controlled Congress have been on the job two months, but he has signed only nine bills into law, none major. The only law so far this month: a bill naming the Veterans Affairs facility in Butler County, Pennsylvania. A McClatchy-Marist poll last month found that a 58 percent majority of Americans reported being “embarrassed” by Trump. For good reason:
Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, lasted just 24 days on the job after misrepresenting his contacts with Russia. Attorney General Jeff Sessions falsely testified that he’d had no contacts with the Russians, forcing his recusal from Russia investigations once the truth came out.
Trump’s nominee to be labor secretary withdrew in the face of broad opposition. His education secretary, who suggested that schools need guns to defend against grizzlies, was confirmed only when the vice president broke a tie vote.
Trump conducted sensitive diplomacy over a North Korean missile launch with the Japanese prime minister surrounded by diners at his Mar-a-Lago country club, one of whom posted online a photo of the man carrying the nuclear football.
Trump, after inflating the crowd size at his inauguration and embracing a conspiracy theory that 3 million to 5 million Americans voted illegally, falsely accused the media of not covering terrorist attacks. The White House then produced a badly spelled list of attacks, most of which had been covered. Conway invented one attack, the “Bowling Green massacre.”
Conway pitched Ivanka Trump’s fashion line on Fox News. Taxpayers have subsidized millions of dollars’ worth of expenses related to Mar-a-Lago and the Trump sons’ foreign travel.
Trump marked Black History Month with remarks suggesting he thought abolitionist Frederick Douglass was still alive.
Trump opened a rift with Australia in an angry phone call with that ally’s prime minister. He provoked the Mexican president to cancel a trip to Washington, and he baffled the Swedes by alluding to fictitious refugee-related violence “last night in Sweden.” Britain postponed a visit from Trump in hopes that anti-Trump protests would cool.
Trump’s closest aides have leaked several accounts of him raging about the White House. His team is frequently caught off guard by his Twitter attacks, which have included shots at Arnold Schwarzenegger and Nordstrom and misinformation Trump heard on Fox News.
This tragicomedy adds irony when you consider that the main character is the same one who campaigned by saying “they laugh at our stupidity” and “we are led by very, very stupid people” and “I have the best words, … but there is no better word than ‘stupid.’ “
Now the world has reason to laugh at us – because we’re with stupid.
Follow Dana Milbank on Twitter @Milbank.