The first five months of the Trump presidency have caused some to speculate about his competency. Despite insisting that he is extremely intelligent and capable, there is mounting evidence that has brought that into question.
One awkward moment occurred when Trump recently met with a group of Presbyterian pastors in New York City. During the meeting, the president claimed that he polled well with evangelicals during his campaign. After being told that Presbyterians are not actually evangelicals, Trump tried to save the situation by asking if they were Christians, the irony being that Trump is a lifelong Presbyterian.
Another example of Trump’s lack of knowledge surfaced when he asked a magazine editor about the phrase “priming the pump.” The editor said that he had heard the phrase a few times. Trump was surprised and said that he had “come up with it” a few days earlier and liked the way it sounded. The phrase has been in use for over 80 years.
One of Trump’s most embarrassing moments was when he traveled from Saudi Arabia to Israel. Immediately after stepping off the plane, he said they had just arrived from the Middle East.
Trump supporters say he may suffer more from ignorance than stupidity. One of his biggest defenders in Washington is Speaker Paul Ryan who claimed that Trump simply did not understand he was breaking the law by asking former FBI Director James Comey to stop an investigation. That defense is shaky after five months on the job.
It is a well-known fact that Trump does not like to read lengthy articles or books. He once praised Frederick Douglass, an African-American abolitionist, in the present tense. Douglass has been dead since 1895. Trump also said that Andrew Jackson was angered by the Civil War, despite dying 15 years before it began.
Another factor is the “dumbing down” of intelligence briefings. Materials are often presented to him with maps and numerous photos to increase his understanding. The president’s need for television time and golf are legendary, as are his emotional outbursts when he is corrected on something or does not get his way.
Trump claims he is a good president who makes decisions based on his business experience and common sense. This is not supported by facts. Since taking office on January 20, Trump has issued two failed Muslim travel bans, fired Comey, disrespected several world leaders, leaked classified information and antagonized North Korea. His frequent Twitter rants have drawn ridicule and derision. Trump also made the stunning decision to pull America out of the Paris climate accord.
While concerned citizens call for Trump’s impeachment, it is unclear if Republicans are strong enough to invoke the 25th Amendment, which would start the process to relieve the president of his duties. This would require a two-thirds majority vote in both the Senate and the House.
Currently, Trump must deal with allegations of Russian ties to his campaign and an obstruction of justice investigation. It is not known what effect either one will have on his presidency.