American Political Leaders
I like this discussion. I think you’re a good guy. I like your values. Wish I could buy you a beer and chat about this, instead of writing essays and talking past each other.
That would actually have been nice. I have long observed that often friendship is not predicated on holding the same position on an issue but on agreeing that an issue is important in the first place.
While I am a die hard atheist, I have had some very good friendships with deeply religious people. It seems to me, that to them it is often of less important what I actually believe, than that I show interest in what is important to them.
Sadly it is part of the human condition to write or speak past each other. With different life experiences and ideologies one imbues different meaning to each word, and so the very same sentence does not mean quite the same thing to me and you. And then of course there is a certain cultural barrier.
Second, Obama is a smart man. I voted for him twice and I miss the Obama era
Hehehe, perhaps I surprise you in saying that had I been able to vote in America, I would never have voted for him. I favored Hillary Clinton, but before her I would have favored Bernie Sanders.
To me Barack Obama was the quintessential American President. The kind Americans love to vote on. The kind of guy who make them feel good. Obama emphasized a fairy tale about America that everybody seem to desperately want to be true:
“There is not a liberal America and a conservative America. There is the United States of America. There is not a black America, a white America, a Latino America, an Asian America. There’s the United States of America.”
I know this sounds a bit mean. I mean Obama is a guy that impressed me a lot as person. But I guess we Nordics are far more policy oriented. Not saying it is better. Just that that is the world I come from. I cannot relate to the American obsession with how good or charming their politicians are. I find the American political debate almost devoid of substance.
I don’t think that Trump is stupid. His speeches often cater to the lowest common denominator. Some people think it’s a shrewd act, his use of repetition is a sort of mesmerism.
I think this is one of your blindspots. You want to believe outcomes are dependent primarily on what is inherent in people. That the surrounding society plays little to no role. Because Trump has been successful you don’t want to acknowledge that he may not in fact be all that smart.
Because such an admission would pull the rug under your belief that those of less success simply don’t have the talent, work ethic or whatever magic sauce there is that they are missing.
No, I am absolutely certain Donald Trump is stupid, and let me qualify that. He is most likely not any more stupid than say a poorly educated blue collar worker. Perhaps he is even of average intelligence in the population at large.
But if you look at the kind of people who have gone to university, that hold important positions, that manage important things, then Donald Trump is IMHO stupid. He is way below what one would expect.
Trump’s speech is not an act. Nobody is that good at acting. He is always talking like that, as plenty of people can confirm who have been close to him. Trump really is as stupid as he comes across as. His professors said he was the stupidest student they ever had. Fellow students said they never saw him open a book
Other people who have worked with him have remarked on him essentially being functionally illiterate. He struggled with reading. The people that give him security briefings admit that they basically have to show him cartoons because he cannot read even simple summaries.
In fact on closer reflection, I am not even sure if comparing him to an average blue collar worker is even fair. My Grandparents where both that, and they where far sharper than Trump.
He has a unique talent at driving the news cycle, for attention, for distraction, or for personal gain, and the news seems to fall for it every single time.
That is not talent, unless you consider having a sever case of narcissistic personality disorder and clear psychopathic traits a talent. To me this is not an example of talent at all but an embarrassing exposure of the political dysfunction in America and the poor education level of the American electorate.
A psychopath has an amazing ability to charm people and get their way. But we don’t attribute this to intelligence or talent. Rather we attribute it to a complete disregard for common norms, decency and honesty.
Trump is successful because he lies and twist the truth non-stop. To call this a talent is frankly a mocker of the whole concept of talent.
Trump shrewdly won a crowded Republican primary, against the wishes of most of the party.
That is like lauding a crime boss for taking over a neighborhood by being more violent and ruthless than everybody else. I almost find it a bit offensive that you call him “shrewd”. That is a pretty label to put on the manner in which he bludgeoned the opposition with his crude remarks, insults, inflammatory rhetoric.
To me the manner in which you succeed is how you need to be measured. I find that in America there is IMHO too much of a worship of rich people. How often do you not hear an America say something along the lines of “If you are so smart, how come you are not rich?” In America wealth and intelligence seems to be deemed one and the same thing. And thus people refuse to accept that Donald Trump could be stupid.
Perhaps I am full of myself for saying this, but I feel pretty confident that I could get quite far, get quite rich and get to high office if I had no morals. It is amazing how far you can get if you are willing to step on people, cheat, lie and deceive. But I prefer to live a simple middle class life over having no morals.
I am not saying that every person with success is immoral. Merely that you cannot simply assume that everybody with success got there through sheer talent. We should not worship people for their monetary success.
I haven’t reviewed his business history, I’ve heard different people describe him as a success, a failure, or a con man.
The sheer number of stories and accounts of his immoral activities, outright crime crime, deception, idiotic and incompetent decisions is dizzing. The guy has basically stay afloat through making deals with the devil.
- An account of how Donald Trump laundered money for Russian mobsters.
- How Trump went above and beyond to help a convicted Drug Runner. Which makes you wonder how involved Trump was in illegal activity.
- You got the obvious enormous fraud of Trump University. This alone should have disqualified him for president.
- How he set of sham corporations to defraud tax authorities.
- Trump’s own ghost writer has accounts of how bad he was at business and how he constantly lied and warped reality.
I could go on, but if you read various accounts of people who have been close to Trump, it is all exceptionally damaging. I remember reading “Fire and Fury,” e.g. As many other accounts it really highlights what exceptionally short attention span he has. How bad he is at managing anything. His shallow understanding and analysis of any subject.
I don’t know off hand which president has the higher IQ. I would bet that both of them handily beat George W Bush
I was no fan of George W. Bush but honestly don’t think he could possibly be more stupid than Donald Trump. The trail of disaster behind Donald Trump is just so much bigger than the one behind George W. Bush.
Bush got a an exceptionally difficult situation in his lap, that Donald Trump didn’t get. Oh well Donald Trump got a COVID19 pandemic. And I guess he is dealing about as badly with that as Bush dealth with 9/11.
His ascent to power was clearly linked to nepotism and party favoritism. The world still suffers from his wars of foreign aggression.
Same stuff that got Trump in power. He was a privileged rich white guy with a populist dumb down message that people eat up. To me George W. Bush and Donald Trump is the outcome of the same American political dysfunction: A failing school system. A failing media. Hyper partisanship. Populism.
I see that I spent a lot of ink on American political leaders, so I think the rest of your response on racial group differences deserves a separate response.