Months ago there was a buzz over President Trump’s apparent inability to actually read. It sort of blew over before reemerging today as just one of many explosive or outright frightening revelations about Trump in excerpts from soon to be released book, Fire and Fury, Inside the Trump White House, by a guy named Michael Wolff, who Trump thought would I guess lionize them all. Instead, faced with a bunch of insane petulant people perpetually in full freak out mode things just changed!
The quote about Trump’s literacy is as follows-
“Here, arguably, was the central issue of the Trump presidency, informing every aspect of Trumpian policy and leadership: He didn’t process information in any conventional sense. He didn’t read. He didn’t really even skim. Some believed that for all practical purposes he was no more than semi-literate.”
With a few key edits and additions here’s the original post —
Well we’ve had 100 Days of Fail from no longer all that new President Trump and wow has it ever been a whirlwind. Storming angrily from Failure to Failure and finding new ways to bottom out in Approval Polls, Trump seems dazed and confused most of the time.
Could it be because he can barely read? Podcast Host David Pakman was early to pick up on this. In early February Pakman examined the compelling visual evidence Trump can barely read or comprehend anything. Trumps only added fuel to the fire on this one, but watch the excellent podcast here before i add some of my own thoughts.
Pakman’s theory is backed up by some convincingly presented evidence.
Since the podcast in February, which is his second on the topic, we’ve all seen Trump doing things that suggest he is either functionally illiterate or has a deep reading comprehension problem.
Most obvious to me is the dead and passionless way he reads when he sticks to the teleprompter on the rare occasions he uses one . Droning and devoid of emotion he needs to go off script every few sentences to bash someone or to get a laugh or cheer of approval from the crowd (which he seems to always desperately need and luxuriate in too long).
Then there’s the verbal and visual tells Trump has that again are eerily close to the bullet pointed checklist from the Canadian Police for identifying Illiterate People.
The Canadian Police Publication on How to Identify people with Low Literacy that Pakman references is an enlightening document. It has numerous checklists and bullet pointed items to help you identify people with low literacy traits uncovered by using Police Science. That’s a pretty good provenance. Most people (maybe not Trump) could easily utilize it to make a decent assessment.
Here’s an excerpt – (Forgive the British style spelling, our friends to the north like to use extra letters as often as possible)
People who have difficulty understanding verbal and written information have other tell-tale behaviours. Many people with low literacy:
• give what seem to be indirect, confused, or irrelevant answers to questions
• act confused or ask questions that do not seem to relate to the problem or situation
• not ask any questions at all (rather than reveal they don’t understand what’s going on)
• nod to indicate they agree or understand something, but then not do what you expect
They may also:
• not show up for meetings or hearings (because they did not understand the instructions on a written notice)
• sign statements or legal documents that they do not understand (rather than admit they have a reading problem)
• look dazed or uncomfortable when someone gives them something to read They may show their confusion when they:
• give the impression that they don’t understand the seriousness of their situation (We’ve seen plenty of this in Trump’s unnerving tweets about Nuclear War)
• become frustrated and angry easily; they may storm out, or become physically confrontational (We’ve seen plenty of this with the press)
Is there anything on this list we haven’t seen from Trump in some form? I can’t think of one. certainly “give(s) the impression that they don’t understand the seriousness of their situation’ seems applicable to everything. Just look at some of the crazy tweets he’s put out there about North Korea. And getting angry? Like anyone hasn’t seen that. Remember his meltdown at on the phone with the Prime Minister of Australia when confronted with a complex issue?
I can think of numerous examples of everything on this list right down to storming out of the Oval Office when asked a question he doesn’t like (or comprehend?) and throwing reporters out of abruptly ended press conferences and interviews.
Another standout moment of seeming illiteracy would be when he asked a black
reporter if she knew how he could contact members of the Members of the Congressional Black Caucus; members of Congress whose contact information is literally at his fingertips. Everyone knows this.
Lastly we have the presidents baffling and hilariously Historically inaccurate statements about Frederick Douglass and repeated ignorant statements about Andrew Jackson. The Jackson comments are very disturbing as a cursory review of his presidency would present so many frightening and outright brutal actions and policies.
Genocide with WMD’s (anthrax laden blankets) against the Native Americans is just one aspect of Jackson’s murderous, racist, removal and extermination policies. He literally tried to exterminate all of the Native Americans east of the Appalachian Mountains. He, like Trump, was a stranger to compromise and tolerance. Follow this link to the awful tale of the Trail of Tears . Essentially, Jackson Death Marched entire Indian Tribes, men woman and children, from areas like Florida to places like Michigan, making no allowances for things like feeding them properly on the way. If there had been photography at that time endless comparisons to Hitler (rather than Napoleon) would dog Jackson’s memory.
As an administrator of government Jackson was petulant and incompetent with all the wrong priorities. In his spare time Jackson continually warred politically with Congress and the Supreme Court; expanding his power at every opportunity. He was particularly out of touch and bellicose about how to run the nations finances and was considered irresponsible. He presided over a major recession which was partly his own fault and probably was only curtailed by westward expansion and the free labor from slavery. In short, he was just terrible.
With these kinds of violent and anger driven behaviors being pretty much the Top and Bottom lines of the Andrew Jackson Presidential Tale of the Tape its safe to say only an idiot could fail to see him as anything but akin to America’s 19th century version of Hitler. Even in the south Slave Owning lunatics like Andrew Jackson are a political legacy most seem content to avoid.
Mentioning he was deeply moved by a visit to Jackson’s home and grave you would have to assume he lacked the curiosity to look at the dates on it or just doesnt know when the Civil War was.
Jackson, dead almost two decades before the Civil War, is now credited by Trump as working to prevent it. Any sane person would probably reason that Jackson’s prevention of the Civil war would have been to expand and protect slavery, which he loved. Is it possible Trump’s fascination with Jackson is that most statues and memorials have just a one line inscription? Perhaps his most famous and succinct quote was “Our Sacred Union Must be Preserved”. After the War the Union put it on every statue of him they could find, especially the ones in the Old Confederacy. So Jackson’s whole appeal may be he has a memorable quote. Its almost a tweet. It fits with the Low Literacy theory well. Jackson’s one big quote is about as much information as he can remember on a topic he is actually interested in but clearly has avoided reading about.
In examining his personal style and his repeated lauding of another terrible role model, General George S Patton, I detailed how Trump had missed the entire point of the eponymous semi biographical movie about the fiery soldier. Masterpiece “Patton” is a very watchable movie which he often references. Unfortunately he failed to grasp any of the movies more subtle points. He misses Patton’s obvious conflicts.
The movie clearly paints Patton as a mixed bag of contradictions with as many problems as gifts. Trump simply misses how Patton’s professional training and top notch merit promoted staff are completely the OPPOSITE of the ‘Dumbest and Dimmest’ collection of Yes-Men the under-educated he’s assembled. Trump misses this entirely. Instead of a cautionary tale of the need to moderate destructive personal traits Trump sees a blueprint for an success through fiery arrogance. Its possible the Dunning-Kruger Effect is operting even in
something as simple as a relatively straight forward bio-pic.
He also is known to frequently blow off important meetings on complex topics.
For good measure I would throw out there that in his hard to follow spoken comments he rarely finishes a sentence, interrupting himself frequently. When all is said and done its hard to auger what he said.
Mangling quotes, some really badly spelled tweets and non stop misstatements of Historical facts have piled up on a near daily basis.
The most frightening part of this is that his illiteracy precludes any historical perspective. So in an analogous situation to say the Cuban Missile Crisis its likely Trump would be freelancing his way through a situation that historical perspective would give him some tried and true options on. The idea he could negotiate his way out of anything seems highly unlikely too. The command of details this demands seems beyond our pitiful So Called Leader.