July 8th, 2020


The soft bigotry of low expectations for Trump

Jennifer Rubin

By Jennifer Rubin

Published April 7, 2016

The soft bigotry of low expectations for Trump

Donald Trump last week made clear that he does not know much about the antiabortion movement --- or much of anything else.

Consider the list of things he does not know:

U.S. nonproliferation policy;

The impossibility of using a nuclear weapon in Europe;

A 45 percent tariff on China constitutes a 45 percent price hike for American purchasers of Chinese goods;

Eliminating waste and fraud will not make Social Security solvent;

Eliminating the Department of Education will not balance the budget;

Supreme Court judges do not "sign bills," nor do they investigate alleged mishandling of classified information;

Withdrawing from the Geneva Conventions (even if possible) would put our military in grave danger and irreparably damage America's reputation around the world;

Targeting women and children is a war crime; military officials would be duty-bound to refuse orders to do so;

There is no conceivable way to force Mexico to build a wall on the border;

Our allies do contribute to our mutual defense needs;

A trade imbalance does not mean we are "losing." (China holds little pieces of paper, and we have loads of usable products);

Iran cannot buy our planes because there are sanctions preventing them from doing so;

We cannot "seize the oil fields" of the Islamic State without deploying tens, perhaps hundreds, of thousands of troops;

Bashar al-Assad and Russia have not been seeking to destroy the Islamic State;

NATO in fact does fight Islamist terrorism (in the Afghanistan conflict, even) and is not obsolete (ask the Baltic states); and

He is losing in all recent polling to Hillary Clinton.

I have surely forgotten some items. Any single gaffe or ignorance about even a few of these items would sink most any presidential candidate. So why has Trump been allowed to escape opprobrium?

Trump apologists and even some in the mainstream media excuse this abject ignorance because he is not "a professional politician."

Let's count the ways in which that is wrong. First, you don't have to be a professional politician to know these things; millions of informed citizens do. Second, what you don't know you can learn, if you bother to study --- just by reading a good newspaper each day. Third, he is running for president, for goodness' sake. If he is not up to speed, how is he to do this job? Fourth, his utter lack of intellectual curiosity in and of itself suggests laziness (we don't think he is dumb) and disqualifies him from holding a job that requires constant learning and analysis. Fifth, because he does not know what he does not know, he has not been able to bring on informed, experienced advisers to help him understand basic policy issues.

Americans looking for a tough guy to "shake up" Washington should find someone who knows things. It is hard to shake up entrenched institutions and bring about transformational change when you have no clue about the Constitution, economics or foreign policy.

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