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The Crybaby in the White House

How long has it been? Barely more than five months and few cannot admit to themselves that the man who claims to be President of the United States is not old enough to hold that office. A child, a bully, a self-centered little boy still being potty-trained, with a six-year-old’s vocabulary, sophistication, and worldview in the body of a seventy-one-year-old man. That’s who we have holding the most demanding position in the world. We ought to be frightened to death, unable to sleep, worried that he’ll strike out and do something absolutely cataclysmic (like attack North Korea and kill hundreds of thousands of people in the process). Or turning the environment against us so quickly that millions of people will be standing in water. Or—most likely of all with a government bureaucracy so understaffed and inexperienced—should there be a rare virus outbreak, or a major earthquake in California, or any number of other unanticipated events, that there’ll be no one in this administration capable of assisting the victims.

The fact is that in Donald Trump’s world, we’re all on our own. And because his understanding of that world is like a six-year-old’s, he can see nothing besides what takes attention away from him, let alone anticipate problems in the future. His child’s view of how things work is the result of one terrifying fact: Donald Trump does not read. Or, perhaps he cannot read, but there’s little difference. No leader of the world can remain totally uninformed about every issue threatening mankind without dire consequences down the road. Previous residents of the White House spent hours pouring over position papers, reading newspapers, actually reading books (sometimes even novels), but Donald Trump reads nothing because he assumes he knows everything. Remember when he said he had a secret plan to eliminate ISIS? He doesn’t even know what ISIS is because he’s read nothing about it. Or look at what he’s said recently about Trumpcare, without reading any of the proposals. Ditto space and Black History. All demonstrations of his massive ignorance.

A month ago, the lead article in Bloomberg Businessweek was about manufacturing jobs in the United States, a response to Trump’s view that if manufacturing comes back, the people he’s promised jobs to will suddenly be employed. The Bloomberg piece lays out very succinctly why an increase in manufacturing will not happen and those highly touted jobs will not materialize.  But Donald Trump did not read the article nor did the people he’s surrounded himself with in the White House explain the analysis to him because they are afraid to contradict him. Thus, Trump’s simplistic understanding of manufacturing (no doubt based upon building something with Legos) will not change, nor will his understanding of anything change because he believes that whatever position he has is always right. Put more simply, Donald Trump will fail because he will not read anything besides PowerPoint summaries.

For all practical purposes, Donald Trump is illiterate. His six-year-old worldview is no different from any number of African dictators’ in the past who stumbled into office with three two or three years of missionary education. He has no understanding of anything, other than perceived threats to himself. Worse, like some of those African kleptomaniacs, he’s being influenced by the people he’s chosen to surround himself with. Does Betsy DeVos know anything about public education?. Does Scott Pruitt have any goals besides trashing the environment? Has Tom Price show any evidence of having understood the Hippocratic Oath? When you pick the worst of the worst to hold cabinet positions and then eliminate the steady, conscientious bureaucrats who make the system function, the future of the nation is compromised, trashed, without any possibility of prosperity—let alone making America great again.

So we’re all in this together—those of us who love our country—because Donald Trump’s enablers (the people who voted for him but, worse, the Republicans in public office who have become a silent minority, refusing to question him) will continue to let their president play in his sandbox, bully anyone who dares criticize him, and Twitter the country’s future away. In Twitter, he’s found his perfect toy—144 characters, not even 144 words that might possibly generate an idea or a debate—the ideal substitute for critical thinking.

Isn’t it time for someone to change his diaper?

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Charles R. Larson is Emeritus Professor of Literature at American University, in Washington, D.C. Email = clarson@american.edu. Twitter @LarsonChuck.

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