People from all over the Establishment spectrum have poured scorn on Donald Trump. Most of the abuse is based on their idea that he is not the right sort of person to be a President – primarily that he is not very intelligent.
I’m no apologist for Donald Trump. I’m dispirited by a guy who talks about his penis in public debates and says he is smart because he “knows lots of words, big words.”
But look at what all the smart people running America have done in just in the last two decades eh? Trump is being damned by a privileged political system of smart people who are politically incompetent.
The situation reminds me a little of the criticisms leveled at Ronald Reagan. The
man partly responsible for the end of the cold war was said by liberals to be as “dumb as a stump”.
Yet in 2008, Obama praised him, saying “Ronald
Reagan was a transformative political figure.”
The things said against Reagan by smarty-pants liberals, eerily recall the things they say now about Trump.
Like Trump, Reagan gave them plenty of material to work with; he claimed the Russian language had no word for “freedom” (it’s “svoboda”); claimed intercontinental ballistic missiles could be
recalled once launched, spoke often about the “End Times” of the Bible, and claimed he had been at the
liberation of the Nazi death camps.
I wanted to find quotes leveled at him before he became President, but lacking time for a pre-internet search, I grabbed the following from a great story in 2011 by the Washington Times.
- “I think he’s out of his mind.”
- “It’s Alzheimer’s. They ought to rename the disease after him.”
- “That’s what I want to be when I get old and feeble-minded – president.”
- “His idea of serious reading is the swimsuit edition of Sports Illustrated,”
- “He likes to count the pieces in the two-piece bathing suits. That’s as high as he can go.”
February 22, 1987 – Chicago Sun Times
- “Mrs. Reagan’s husband
has shown the command decision instincts of a glazed donut.
- He sat
there like a stone for months, acting like someone whose IQ equals the
mean temperature of St. Petersburg, Fla.
March 2, 1987 -The Boston Globe
- “He has to demonstrate he has all his marbles,” said Wattenberg.
March 5, 1987 -The Boston Globe
How can this happen? How can Reagan be both dumb and transformative? Was
he ever dumb? Was he ever transformative? I think the truth is that our perspectives are heavily and inaccurately influenced by our ego, by the egos of other people, and the times.
In a piece titled “The stupidity of Ronald Reagan”, Christopher Hitchens wonders how it was that his liberal friends were busy criticising this obviously “cruel and stupid lizard” just at the time Reagan was making “Glasnost” possible, and ‘saving’ the world from Cold War.
“Many of those friends had twice my IQ, or let’s
say six times that of the then-chief executive.
“I have been
wondering ever since not just about the stupidity of American politics,
but about the need of so many American intellectuals to prove themselves
clever by showing that they are smarter than the latest idiot in power,
or the latest Republican at any rate.”
Trump may be no Reagan, but intellectuals are clearly ill-equipped to judge. Moreover, the whole establishment is clearly ill-equipped to judge or do well enough at their jobs to prove Trump is not worthy.