Remember the scene in Forrest Gump where the title character finally decided to end his impromptu cross-country run, and his band of followers expected him to say something profound? And when he didn’t, they behaved as if he had anyway?
Forrest Gump had a heart of gold, but he was a garden-variety idiot. He was not naturally inclined toward philosophical profundity, but even had he been, he would have found himself incapable of it. His look of perpetual confusion was not an affectation. The only reason people believed he should express deep wisdom is because he was likable, physically gifted, kind, and found himself in a variety of extraordinary situations.
Remember the wisdom of director Robert Zemeckis the next time you or another pundit is trying to parse Donald Trump’s “deeper strategy.” Plenty of people who should know better continue to try to impart far-reaching meanings to his statements and actions, not because a single thing about them invites such an analysis but because he was elected President and must therefore possess some genius qualities, however occult. “A true halfwit could never have made it this far,” some of his detractors protest. (His fans think he’s smart as fuck, but that’s a given.)
Of course a halfwit can make it in America; they represent the largest voting bloc in every cycle. The last time I was forced to spend time at a beach — and I mean a real one, with an ocean alongside and everything — I saw someone lying in the sun applying baby oil to herself, a makeshift ashtray filled with cigarette butts next to her towel. I happened to hear her express concern that cell phones reputedly can cause cancer. This was just one of countless moments demonstrative of the basic cognitive capacity of everyday hairless apes.
Anyway, while it’s true that Trump has important decisions to make and is at least as capable of deliberative thought as most other mammals, this doesn’t make anything he does remotely strategic. One way to confirm this is to ask yourself if there is anyone you know whose mannerisms, expulsions, and general bearing remind you of Donald Trump. Chances are you know a few people like this. Now ask yourself how many of them are craftily hiding a vast reservoir of intelligence. You will probably be tempted to laugh at the sheer absurdity of this before catching yourself, because the people all of us know like this are not only not smart, they are often mindless to the point that they literally cannot care for themselves. Most people you know whose behaviors are reminiscent of Trump’s are in assisted living facilities, nursing homes, or detox facilities. If they are not, it’s because they are lucky enough to have a full-time caregiver or the equivalent.
I know at least one person whose penchant for lying, hostility, rampant insecurity, ineloquence, and flagrant self-contradiction is eerily like Trump’s, and there is even a physical resemblance. But because this person is an everyday schmuck, no one mistakes her stupidity or absolute need to lie for components of some overarching deft mind. She’s just dumb and crazy and makes noises often, and makes even louder, dumber, and angrier noises in response to being rebuked. If Trump were a everyday citizen, he’d probably be unable to navigate the world on his own. He is a giant ignorant foul windbag and the world will be measurably better when he expels his final fetid breath, and the anti-tributes can resound throughout the world in earnest.
Obviously, there are plenty of rank-and-file people who, though a combination of bias and their own insurmountable mental insufficiency, refuse to accept that Trump is every bit the morbidly deranged waterhead his every statement and move imply. But when I see educated members of the media continuing to try to impart something that isn’t there into the comings and goings of someone who probably can’t unwrap his own Bic Macs without rotating them around in his stubby fingers a few times and tearing at the wrappers with his teeth, I have to wonder how much of this is denial versus how much is, “I can keep milking this for more columns until the motherfucker finally expires.”