Is Our 'Malignant Narcissist'-In-Chief Also A Functional Illiterate?

“To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.” ― Theodore Roosevelt

There is clear evidence that Donald Trump doesn’t read, doesn’t like to read, won’t read. But is that where the truth stops?

Over the course of several interviews, Trump has said rather disdainfully that he doesn’t need to read extensively because he’s a “very efficient guy” with enormous ability to reach the right decisions “with very little knowledge other than the knowledge I [already] had, plus the words ‘common sense,’ because I have a lot of common sense, and I have a lot of business ability.”

Trump has a seemingly uncontrollable fixation on the media but appears particularly obsessed with watching TV news shows. He rarely browses the Internet — favoring instead Google News printouts. He doesn’t use a computer, reads his own email sparingly, doesn’t even carry a smartphone during daytime hours when he dictates tweets to his assistants.

Trump’s obvious pride in his signature affixed to each executive order is different though. In fact, it is downright strange. “Look, America,” seems to be the overarching message after he scrawls his artwork on each one. “I can sign my name!”

I’m not certain what we are expected to do thereafter — applaud?

Indeed, in the Trump “alternative facts” reality show now masquerading as a presidency on Pennsylvania Avenue, perhaps there’s another trompe l’oeil at play in Trump’s post-truth world. Maybe, it is time for Trump to tell the truth.

Yes, I can hear your, “Good luck with that!” After all, a Politifact study illustrates that Trump tells the truth only 4 percent of the time. But on a real long shot, for the love of God and country, can the “malignant narcissist”-in-chief simply admit that, perhaps, he’s just a functional illiterate?

Prior to the presidential election, reports indicate that Trump resolutely refused to undergo any process of vetting, even by his own campaign staff. Ultimately, there would be no tax returns to indicate the extent of his real wealth or the complexities of his international holdings, no formal medical records that could withstand proper scrutiny regarding his physical and mental health, no release of education transcripts to substantiate even functional literacy. All of which seemingly points to a virtual con man sitting atop the masthead of government in the most powerful country of the free world, someone with very dark secrets — or shame.

“I went to the Wharton School of Business,” Trump has boasted repeatedly in some form or another since he entered the presidential race. “I’m, like, a really smart person.”

Generously, one could infer that Trump means street-smart savvy and shrewdness — because that he has. His presidential win was highly strategic — a ruthless power grab within the Republican Party and over the Democratic Party, not unlike a hostile corporate takeover in which the most powerful operatives’ ultimate cachet is recognized only in hindsight. But no, that is not what Trump means at all.

“[M]y I.Q. is one of the highest -and you all know it!” Trump bragged in one of his relentless tweets. However, every indication suggests otherwise — that Trump’s much touted academic and intellectual accomplishments are questionable at best.

“He has the smallest vocabulary of any person who has ever run for any kind of office, much less president,” expounded Trump’s ghost writer on The Art of the Deal, Tony Schwartz, in a blistering pre-election interview. “It’s a 200-word vocabulary. Therefore, as soon as he gets beyond that, you know he is reading someone else’s words.”

All of which suggests that Trump can read, if only at an elementary level, despite the compelling arguments that suggest otherwise.

WATCH (MA - Language).

Trump’s admitted aversion to reading is longstanding, even though, reportedly, his daily routine begins by reading print versions of The New York Times and New York Post. His mendacious tweets, however, suggest that he never makes it to the end of an article.

Allegations that Trump is signing a manic barrage of executive orders without being “fully briefed,” are also elevating previous alarms about his mental health and intellectual capacity to function autonomously as president. John Gartner Ph.D. — the eminently qualified psychotherapist who felt compelled to publicly diagnose Trump as a malignant narcissist, breaking the Goldwater rule — has actually begun his own campaign petition to remove Trump from office. Simultaneously, Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) is introducing legislation that would require a psychiatrist at the White House, and Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chair of the House Oversight Committee, is weighing legislation to require presidents to undergo an independent medical examination, including for mental health.

All of which begs the question, who’s really in charge at the White House?

In an unprecedented move via one such executive order — prepared under the seemingly surreptitious direction of Trump’s Darth Vaderesque chief strategist Steve Bannon, a non-vetted civilian — several of the country’s most senior intelligence and military officials were ousted as regular members of the Principals Committee on the National Security Council (NSC), in favor of himself and Trump’s chief of staff, Reince Priebus.

Bannon’s appointment, in particular, was so troubling — politicizing the forum that presidents have utilized for consideration of national security and foreign policy matters alongside senior national security advisors and Cabinet officials — that experts were left debating whether the actual statute governing such appointments had been violated. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va), the top Democrat on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, moved almost immediately to introduce new legislation “to codify the permanent members and structure of the NSC, and require a joint congressional resolution to add any member or attendee who has not been confirmed by the Senate — other than a handful of nonpolitical White House staff members.”

According to a former senior Obama administration official, it’s a “time to break glass because of emergency” moment. Bannon is stealthily consolidating a new nexus of power in the White House under the banner of the Strategic Initiatives Group (SIG), supposedly to inform policy that guides Trump through the unfamiliar levers of power in Washington.

Bannon is not only a misogynistic white nationalist. He is also an apocalypticist, who believes pseudoscience predictions about the Apocalypse; that his goal is to bring everything crashing down like Lenin who wanted to destroy the state; that the Grey Champion — a messianic strongman figure — may have already emerged in Trump; that the Apocalypse is now. No, seriously.

Executive orders being signed but not read by Donald Trump opens speculation regarding who is really in charge of the White H
Executive orders being signed but not read by Donald Trump opens speculation regarding who is really in charge of the White House.

Most troubling in the NSC debacle should be the implication that Trump is dependent upon someone to tell him what his own sweeping executive orders entail. One of the cardinal rules of business is, “Do not sign your name to anything you haven’t read!” Certainly, no “really smart” businessman does that. What’s more, executive orders are not overly lengthy documents that should create unreasonably burdensome hardship for a president with a cache of constitutional attorneys at his disposal.

This is our so-called president (Thanks, Michael Moore!), whose stated intent is to renegotiate treaties and alliances in our name. Indeed, we must now look beyond Trump’s family and close advisors, who may be enabling him, to ask clear, pertinent, unambiguous questions regarding not just his mental health but also his level of literacy and literary competence.

Why are there, reportedly, no shelves of books in his office? No home or office computer? Why does Trump really not send emails? Why does his daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner seemingly shadow his every move? Are they solely loyal confidantes or “translators” with a greater command of English than wife Melania? What accounts for Trump’s demonstrable lack of erudition and eloquence despite having the “best words”?

Perturbed, inquiring minds want to know: Does Trump have a learning disability? Is Trump dyslexic?

Let me be clear. I’m not trying to find excuses for Trump’s brutish, choleric behavior. I am seeking clarity in what has become political theater of the absurd. Dyslexia can occur in children with normal vision and intelligence, and it can remain undiagnosed well into adulthood — evidenced by Jennifer Aniston’s discovery in her 20s that she was dyslexic.

“I thought I wasn’t smart,” Aniston said. “I just couldn’t retain anything.”

Superficially, Aniston may have had the polar opposite view of herself than Trump — as not being smart. But she is not a malignant narcissist. Moreover, politics Professor Peter Dreier underscores that Trump’s “false claims about his academic record and derision of others bespeak profound insecurity about his intelligence and accomplishments.” Dreier surmises that Trump surely knows that he didn’t get into Wharton on his own merit.

“Trump got into Wharton as a special favor from a ‘friendly’ admissions officer who knew Trump’s older brother, Freddy,” Drier wrote, citing Gwenda Blair’s 2001 biography, The Trumps. “The college’s admissions staff surely knew that Trump’s father was a wealthy real estate developer and a potential donor.”

I suspect that Trump’s former ghost writer Tony Schwartz would agree. Referencing Trump’s Gettysburg speech, Schwartz said, “That set of things in his promise to America — his ‘contract with America’ recalling Newt Gingrich’s contract with America — is a group of policies and plans that I will bet you that Trump himself hasn’t even read. He doesn’t know them; he doesn’t understand them; and he has no intention of actually reading them because they are foreign to him.”

WATCH.

Republicans, especially, in control of both Houses of Congress cannot continue to ignore the red flags regarding Trump. Our political landscape is embroiled in a zero-sum game in which only a united America will triumph over the fascist mantle of deception that rests like a crown of lead on the puerile head of our otherwise “naked emperor.”

Of course, medical diagnoses should, ideally, only be made by trained professionals. But until there is transparency regarding Trump’s physical and mental health, the public and the medical community — even erstwhile doctor-turned-politician Howard Dean — will be relegated to armchair physicians diagnosing Trump-esque behavior that simply isn’t, well, normal.

Furthermore, in as much as we can end a man’s impoverishment by teaching him how to fish as opposed to offering him lifetime handouts of fish, for the love of God, if Trump also has a disability such as dyslexia, can someone please do this country a great service? Hire Trump a reading tutor!

Tell Donald, too, that the biographies he longs to read are now available on audio. Just don’t tell him in writing — in more than 3 pages.

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