This week, a juicy and horrifying story from Vanity Fair portrayed President Trump as a man quickly and graphically spiraling out of alignment with reality.
The story described President Trump as isolating himself behind a wall of Fox News bullshit, consumed by darkness. At one point, the piece describes a conversation Trump had with Steve Bannon, who described the risks of Trump being removed from office by a majority of the cabinet via the 25th Amendment. As one of the more troubling nuggets in the story claims,
When Bannon mentioned the 25th Amendment, Trump said, “What’s that?
For most people, the 25th Amendment is not an especially pertinent part of their lives. But there are certain people for whom a working knowledge of the 25th Amendment is probably something they should have. One of those people is the President of the United States.
Trump has referenced the First Amendment, mostly as an avatar for his disgust. And he’s got at least some grasp of the Second Amendment, at least in regards to ridding the world of Hillary Clinton (“If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know.”)
But is there any indication that President Trump knows what any of the other amendments are? Why should we think he does? He’s already demonstrated that he doesn’t have a grasp on how the basic functions of government work, or how the national debt works, or on the basics of nuclear deterrence.
This isn’t #NeverTrump hateraid talking. He’s demonstrated that he’s clueless how healthcare and health insurance work, that he’s completely lost when dealing with the particulars of disaster relief, and that he appears to have no grasp of geopolitical history.
During a presidential campaign, candidates are asked to have complex answers for complex questions. But nobody asks simple questions looking for simple answers, because we don’t want to insult the candidates by assuming they don’t know these things.
We should never have assumed Donald Trump knew even the slightest thing about being the president, what the president does, how government works, or America in general. The press should have risked Trump’s wrath and gave the American people assurances that he knew the basics of the job he was going for.
They’re still not doing it, continuing to bombard him with complex, multi-part questions that allow him to ignore what he doesn’t want to answer, and bloviate at length about what he does.
What if someone asked simple, relevant questions regarding healthcare, the military, social issues, and American history in general? They might piss him off, but we’re way past that now, and his inability or refusal to answer them will tell us volumes about the man elected to steward our economy and nuclear arsenal.
None of these are gotcha questions. All of them are things a president should easily be able to answer. I wonder if President Trump can.
- What does NAFTA stand for?
- What is the 17th Amendment?
- Briefly summarize the events of the Korean War.
- What is a deductible?
- What is the median income of a family of four?
- How did Puerto Rico become an American territory?
- Who desegregated the US military, and when?
- How does a Dependent Care FSA work?
- What was Reconstruction?
- Name one way Shia Islam differs from Sunni Islam.
- What is a car title loan?
- What does the phrase “school-to-prison pipeline” refer to?
- How is an amendment to the Constitution passed?
- What is WIC?
- Where is Pakistan?
- What’s the difference between public and private student loans?
- Who ruled North Korea before Kim Jong Un?
- How is a charter school different from a private school?
- Why is Narcan important?
- Name one Supreme Court case that’s not Roe v. Wade.
Imagine an interview a year ago, 18 months ago, where Donald Trump was forced to sputter and bluff his way through these easy questions. We would have learned so much.
There’s no reason we can’t do it now. Time is running out.