Good afternoon (GMT -5)!
In today’s installment of the Trumpine tragicomedy, Trump accused Barack Obama of wiretapping his phones late last year. Why Obama would waste his time on this fruitless endeavor, or any other supporting evidence, remains hidden from view.
With Trump we have to keep our eye on the ball. In recent weeks, an irritating narrative has emerged. It proposes Trump is really a kind of mad genius, prodding the world forward by means and magic too wondrous for most humans to comprehend. Trump’s quasi-normal speech to the US Congress last Tuesday gave this notion more traction that it rightfully deserves.
Mad? In the clinical sense, that’s a matter for the pros. In the ordinary sense few haven’t at least wondered about Trump’s sanity, and it’s more than reasonable for a prudent and concerned US citizenry – regardless of how they voted last November – to openly raise the question.
A genius? Well, let’s look at that. There is no particular genius in insulting others, no matter how pithily. There is no real genius in lack of planning, obscene administrative incompetence, contempt for the law, or imprudent contacts with foreign governments. There is no genius at all in the explicit or implicit assertion that people of other creeds and backgrounds are uniformly dangerous or inferior.
Genius can take many forms, but there is also a unifying theme: real genius is a matter of synthesis and integration. Real genius brings together things, ideas, or people that otherwise would remain separate and distinct. Even the General Theory of Relativity or the notion of perspective in art had their roots in other ideas. It is the integration of distinct notions that brings us something we rightly perceive as new.
By that standard of genius Trump, unrepentantly divisive and abrasive, is not one. Here is a person for whom the concepts of synthesis and integration are entirely alien, and for whom the label of “genius” is a disturbing insult to the many men and women on this planet who deserve it. There are many possible narratives about Donald Trump, but the genius narrative is one that we should abandon henceforth and for evermore. Amen.