The past two and a half years have witnessed a multitude of gaffes, outrages, callous acts, ignorant comments, racist rhetoric and sheer stupidity from the occupant of the Oval Office. It would be needlessly painful to recount all that Trump has done to demean the office of the president, the stature of the United States, and quality of civic discourse in our country---virtually the entire country has been exposed to the trumpiana---again and again.
As incendiary and malevolent as many of his words and acts were, few come close to matching the outrageousness of Trump’s tweet this weekend about the death of Jeffrey Epstein.
Political pundits and historians can, and will, debate which acts of the administration most manifest the qualities of Trump that disqualify him from the role of president. His racism? His obstruction of justice? His pathological mendacity? His callous inability to offer even the slightest comfort to fellow citizens after national traumas. His undermining of foreign relations with allies while coddling authoritarians?
All those are secondary to this weekend’s tweet and what it reveals about Trump’s thinking. With that single tweet Trump eliminated the need to sift through thirty months of comments to cull out evidence of his unfitness for office.
Trump chose to retweet a bizarre, unfounded, logically incoherent, illiterate tweet of a comedian who can barely conjugate his verbs alleging that Jeffrey Epstein died at the hands of the Clintons (“the Clintons did it”).
Were Trump a business man in New York retweeting this conspiratorial nonsense, one might wonder about his judgment---of all the folks in the twitter-verse, what would prompt him to amplify the insidious, conspiratorial notion that a former president of the United States is somehow involved in a suicide that took place in a heavily armed federal prison with the victim in isolation. Were a friend to share the tweet, one would have to wonder if they had taken leave of their senses, it is that clearly bizarre and groundless.
But Trump isn’t just some illogical businessman who can’t discern fact-based allegations from fantasy, he IS the president of the United States. By retweeting the Terrence K. Williams tweet, the rationality and mental stability of Trump is called into question.
Does he not perceive that a buffoon alleging that “the word around the street is that the Clintons did it (murdered Jeffrey Epstein)” is idiocy? Does he not get that elevating conspiracy notions to the discourse of the president of the United States is dangerous? That the unprecedented abandonment of reason and logic by the leader of the free world is corrosive?
Does he have any notion that the dignity and aura that his office once held is being devastated by his incivility and the brazen and insolent disrespect (alleging that a former president was complicit in a murder) for his predecessors?
Trump is oblivious to the fact that our judicial system, our news media, our legislative process and, indeed, civic discourse itself is largely based on separating fact from fiction. The courts have rule up on rule to differentiate causal connections from speculation; the media has fact checker upon fact checker to determine what is provable and what is not; every legislature holds hearings to find facts, not suppositions, upon which to legislate; most inter-personal debates and conversations seek to separate speculation from provable fact. All this is, seemingly, alien to the president.
Is he so obtuse as to be unaware that his repeating the absurd charges of T. K. Williams puts his intellect and reasoning capacity on the same level with the ignoramus he cited?
Does he not care that tens of millions of Americans will read and see his tweet and be convinced either that the president of the United States is incapable of basic reason and logic, or that millions will buy the loony conspiracy theory and evidence frightening ignorance.
There is so much that is wrong with this president, as David Frum recently wrote, “The fact is that this presidency shames and disgraces the office every minute of every hour of every day.” But this retweet calls into question not only his bad intentions, his malign personality and policies, but his reasoning capacity. How can he not discern that the Williams’ tweet is crazy; nutty conjecture based on “word around the street,” as reported by a fool.
Many courts in Europe employed professional fools, “court jesters”, for entertainment; but the kings and queens understood the role of the fool—it was not for policy. Trump can’t discern the difference, if the fool serves his purposes, he is more than happy to invoke him and cite him as source material.
Watch the video of Williams. You will inevitably question the lucidity of anyone who would send it out. How much more should we be troubled by the man in the Oval Office—the site where Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Reagan, Clinton, Bush and Obama sat--- with the power to make life and death decisions for the nation--- purveying to the American public such insidious sophistry.
It is truly shocking and cause for deep concern.