Maybe No One In The White House Can Read?

News organizations, pundits and bloggers all continue to express their amazement at the number of bald-faced lies uttered by the current occupant of the Oval Office. And it is certainly baffling; after all, virtually all of these falsehoods are easily disproved. Why would someone who presumably wants to be taken seriously provide political opponents and the general public with constant evidence of his lack of credibility?

Every day brings a new example. In his address to Congress, Trump cited a study by the National Academy of Sciences; according to Trump, that study showed illegal immigration costs the country billions of dollars a year. The authors of that study immediately responded that it said no such thing.

As the chair of the panel of scientists convened to write that report and one of the consultants who analyzed the effect of immigration on government budgets, we can state unequivocally that this was not our conclusion. Our report looked at the evidence from all sides and found that the economic and fiscal consequences of immigration are generally positive, or at least not likely to be negative. How, then, can the report be used to argue the opposite?

As blatant as that mischaracterization is, it is of course nothing compared to Trump’s evidence-free accusation that President Obama had wire-tapped him–an accusation that has been debunked by the FBI, the Department of Justice and all of America’s intelligence agencies. But hey–what do they know. He saw it on Fox, so it must be true….

Observers have attributed this behavior to Trump’s obvious mental instability, and although that’s certainly plausible, I have another theory. I don’t think Trump or the people around him know how to read.

For example, immediately after he unveiled his proposed budget, his crack team sent out their  “Daily Update” to their email list, with a prominent link to the following article:

The Washington Post: “Trump’s budget makes perfect sense and will fix America, and I will tell you why”

I’m sure the geniuses who sent it out loved the headline; unfortunately, the article was a biting–and very effective– satire. The first two paragraphs should have given them a clue:

Some people are complaining that the budget proffered by the Trump administration, despite its wonderful macho-sounding name, is too vague and makes all sorts of cuts to needed programs in favor of increasing military spending by leaps and bounds. These people are wimps. Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney has called it a “hard power budget” which is, I think, the name of an exercise program where you eat only what you can catch, pump up your guns and then punch the impoverished in the face. This, conveniently, is also what the budget does.

This budget will make America a lean, mean fighting machine with bulging, rippling muscles and not an ounce of fat. America has been weak and soft for too long. BUT HOW WILL I SURVIVE ON THIS BUDGET? you may be wondering. I AM A HUMAN CHILD, NOT A COSTLY FIGHTER JET. You may not survive, but that is because you are SOFT and WEAK, something this budget is designed to eliminate.

Or maybe it isn’t that they can’t read; maybe the Trump Administration really is the Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight.

On Friday evening, following the day’s earlier, humiliating defeat of the GOP’s  Obamacare “replacement,” advertisements praising several congressional Republicans for “keeping their promise” to replace the Affordable Care Act aired during national basketball games. Evidently, none of those “best people”with whom Trump has surrounded himself, thought to pull the  ads, which had obviously been prepared and scheduled beforehand.

This level of incompetence would be funny if our Buffoon-in-Chief didn’t have the nuclear codes…..


  1. I have repeatedly had to delete what I was writing; the confusion and daily “outing” of newly uncovered illegal actions and lies is too confusing to keep up with and, the foreign intrigue makes it almost unbelievable. We are headed to becoming a Russian satellite country and apparently being led to that end by three presidential figures; Donald Trump, Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner. It is a tossup as to which of the other two have the strongest hold on Trump.

    “This level of incompetence would be funny if our Buffoon-in-Chief didn’t have the nuclear codes…..”

    Can we rest not knowing if Trump has shared the above information with either or both Bannon and Kushner? We also have three First Ladies; Melania Trump (who has become a phantom), Ivanka Kushner and Kellyanne Conway. This reminds me; that old movie “Three Faces of Eve” is on TCM channel tonight at 8:00.

  2. The other day it dawned on me that Trump either can’t tread or can’t comprehend what he reads. I’d bet money that in high school and college that he wowed plain girls with thick glasses to do his homework, write his papers and generally see that he was passing.

  3. I agree with all of the above. Questions: Where are Trump’s Republican buddies in congress? What do have to say about his ranting? Aren’t they embarrassed? Shouldn’t they be? Shouldn’t they also be as afraid of this fake president as many civilians are? They seem to be nothing more than a bunch of disinterested spectators. At least when Obama was president they had motivation to ask questions. What a bunch of losers.

  4. The shame that voting him into office has brought onto our country would almost be humorous if I didn’t believe that the current disgraceful members of Congress will be voted right back into office. Oh, and there are still those trump supporters out there who don’t care how crazy he is or how much he is hurting them. They will proudly go down with the ship they forced all of us to embark on.

  5. My husband and I have taken to referring to the whole bunch as “F Troop”. I know we are showing our age?

  6. I think the reference to Breslin’s book, “The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight” is the appropriate answer. Trump is the inept main character, and Bannon is Baccala, the sinister Don.

  7. No, they can read and comprehend, and I suspect they are above average intelligence. They are simply evil.

  8. I’m with Neal. Writing off Trump and his administration as buffoons dangerously underestimate their motive, which is to disrupt and reconstruct the established national and world order with something only they and the tin-foil cap crowd seem to understand.

  9. I think it’s pretty clear that 45 doesn’t read anything other than the “Enquirer” and “Breitbart” and he gets most of his information from Fox News. I really don’t care about that as much as I care about the damage he is doing to our environment as he rolls back Obama’s Executive Orders. I care about the damage he is doing to the less fortunate among us as his budget guts programs that don’t actually cost much, but provide a lifeline to many Americans. I care about the damage he is doing internationally with his bellicose rhetoric and his refusal to see the world as it really is. Yes, Putin is infinitely more dangerous than immigrants.

    Meanwhile, he will continue not to care about what I care about. When he gets tired of negative reports about himself, he will just go hold another rally, where all his minions will root for him as loudly as they did before the election, because they just don’t care either.

  10. The ongoing antics of Nunes with Adam Schiff requesting he recuse himself, the Republicans who aided Democrats in stopping Trumpcare, the continuing problems accepting his Gorsuch nomination to SCOTUS…plus millions of Americans taking to the the streets in protest of his actions, is ignored by Trump as if none of it has happened or is continuing to happen daily. He probably can read but his reading comprehension skills are almost nil; his vocabulary is so limited he repeats words and phrases which have stuck in his mind as being profound.

    None of these facts, plus his lies and distortions, matters to the current administration who are the only ones with the power to rein him in on “alternate facts” and “walking back” his lies – most of which he denies saying – but will not use their power to stop him until they are through using HIM to reach their own personal goals. They have been around long enough for us to know they CAN and DO read but turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to the obvious dangers they are aiding and abetting Trump and Putin to create.

    Trump and Putin are obviously adept at reading numbers and I’m sure they check their financial listings daily.

  11. Might I recommend a casual YouTube search for Samantha Bee discussing her theory that Donald Trump can’t read? I believe it might convince you even further. =)

  12. There’s one thing the Fake President Donald Trump is a master at … lying. He lies about things that are important to Democrats, and things that are important to the Republicans … and things that are important to himself. He muddies the water on every subject that crosses his desk and a number of things that don’t.

    For most citizens, it’s probably very difficult to remember what the truth is. It’s important that they faithfully follow one course of action. Don’t believe anything that comes out of Trump’s mouth.

  13. Ideologues need not comprehend anything adverse to their pre-conditioned views and can ignore what doesn’t fit, as Trump does. The decision or decisions are already made and anything adverse to such already-made views fall on deaf ears, as we can see. Even the response to outright lies (or statements made in contradiction of known facts) are safely ignored while alternative facts are trumpeted as true. Thus if you don’t like where the facts are leading, no problem; just change the facts.

    My wife’s doctoral dissertation had to do with trying to teach reading from content as opposed to reading as a separate part of the curriculum, the hypothesis being that one can learn how to read in courses in grammar and arithmetic and improve in both reading and content areas as well, a double plus. The results of her study where she taught one course in traditional reading and one in content-centered reading for a year to gather comparative testing numbers were inconclusive, but perhaps such a study could be replicated in the White House, augmented by a study design that would include reading comprehension. On the other hand, such a study may be a needless exercise since ideologues are not open to comprehension that does not accord with their already-formed views, so what to do? I have an idea. Throw the test subjects out!

  14. Stephen F. Smith – thanks for the link to the photo of the three blind mice at 8:25am today. Cute!

  15. To Pat at 7:16 today.
    If I remember correctly, baccalà is salted and dried codfish which
    S T I N K S but is reconstituted and used in recipes.
    I think the word is a useful metaphor to describe Trumpsters.

  16. Yesterday, I read some interviews that were done with Trumpet supporters. The chaos created by the Trumpet White House, i.e., tweets, and contradictions and out right lies were met with approval. Essentially (in their view), the Trumpet is fulfilling the promise of busting up the Washington Liberal Establishment. They offered the opinions that only the Washington Establishment and Liberal Media are upset over the Trumpet. Chaos is a necessary part of destruction that must take place of the establishment.

    Bottom line the Trumpet has no skills, when it comes to critical thinking. His thought process is convoluted and contradicts facts. His egocentric mind is a thought proof barrier to any critiques of his tweets, deeds or actions.

    Also in the bottom line is somehow and some way devising a plan to line his own pockets and the pockets of his family, in this regard he will follow the advice of the steroid capitalists. If he has to cut a deal with Russian Oligarchs to enrich the Trumpet Family, that’s OK and if others get wealthy in process it is a collateral reward for them. It is not about ideology, it is all about the greed for power and wealth. If America is trashed in the process, that is OK too. The nexus or center is all about the Trumpet.

    The Trumpet followers the Trumpeters will remain loyal. They will be similar to the Japanese and German soldiers of WW 2, or the Confederates in our own Civil War, even the face of crushing defeat they will remain loyal to the Trumpet.

  17. What I fear is that the obvious buffoonery of Trump and Ryan and McConnell will be the shiny objects that mislead us. They are fun to make fun of and their ineptitude fills pages everyday with amazing tales and amusing annecdotes.

    Perhaps this is entertainment enough for many but I certainly hope that somewhere in the bowels of political science academia there is serious research underway around the hypothesis that America is seriously broken and what’s the cure.

    The country that used to be is no more. Can it recover? Or, has the entire world environment changed such that adaptation to a new world is required and the process we are in the throes of is the past going extinct which is necessary for our species to evolve to fit an entirely different future.

    We need a systemic, objective, practical, vision of not only what is necessary to be a great country in the inevitable future but what to fix first in order to get from the wreck to the road to there.

    It’s a huge undertaking that requires our best effort.

  18. Peggy and Louis voiced my opinion so well, I don’t need to add anything except, well done Professor.

  19. Was this blog pertaining to those inside the White House only and only regarding reading abilities or the lack thereof? I am curious as I saw a banner on MSNBC a short while ago the the White House was on lockdown due to snipers on the grounds. Just read an AOL headline that the White House is on lockdown due to a suspicious package on the grounds. More “alternative facts”, did snipers come gift wrapped or Secret Service security hired from the local blind school? Just askin’

  20. This far into the Trump administration and I now believe that Trump and Company are nothing more than GANGSTERS. Bannon may have an ideological agenda, but the rest of the gang in the White House do not. Like their friend Putin, the seek only money and power.

    Think The Godfaher… WASP style.

  21. At least they won’t win us to our harm. If they had any sense they would ” Win us with honest trifles, to betray ’s in deepest consequence.”

  22. This is the end result of the right wing’s concerted, decades-long campaign to build an alternative, partisan media world which exclusively serves the interests of the far right, and to diligently train their followers to reject all information comes from outside that closed, self-referential alt-universe. There is a substantial proportion of the US population (perhaps 20-40% ) who literally never hear any information that does not originate from Fox News, Breitbart, or some other far-right partisan source that repeats and reinforces the slogans of their “tribe”. They are also preemptively trained, through persistent denunciation of “liberal media”, to dismiss anything which challenges their accustomed diet of propaganda. Snopes and other nonpartisan factchecking sites are routinely included in these denunciations, for the purpose of inoculating the audience against friends and relatives who might smuggle some reality across the partisan divide. As a result, the “Overton Window” of what’s perceived as normal and acceptable within that closed alt-universe shifts ever further to the right, with no pushback the other way.
    Trump and his propagandists are following the same playbook by denouncing CNN, et al, as “fake news”. They’re just expanding the target zone.
    This base of votes securely encapsulated in the right wing propaganda bubble, along with the disproportionate Electoral College voting power of the “red states”, was enough to get Trump elected. Just like Republican congressmen securely ensconced in gerrymandered safe Republican seats, they see no reason to appeal to anyone else. Their winning base of red state voters will hear only what Reoublicans want them to hear, and nobody cares what the disenfranchised “blue” voters think, because they don’t count. This will be the case as long as their winning strategy continues to win.
    The wild card is that for the first time, the Republican Party, and with it our government, has fallen into the control of people who actually believe the conspiratorial propaganda that Republican propagandists have been shoveling out to the rubes (a la “What’s the Matter With Kansas”).

  23. Trump is the problem with Trump. A truly smart person surrounds herself with people who are even smarter in particular areas that the smart person doesn’t know as much about. A truly smart person knows her limits, and yet figures out a way around them with the help of people she trusts. A truly smart person deals with others with honesty and integrity, and therefore, can be trusted and receives trust and loyalty in return. A truly smart person sets goals and has an agenda to accomplish goals, using people she trusts who have the skills she lacks. President Obama was the master of this. He even had Republicans in his administration.

    Trump may be smart about some things–I really don’t know what–pussygrabbing, for instance, but he proves over and over again that he isn’t very smart overall and certainly not trustworthy. Although he may have some people on his team that are smart and knowledgeable in areas where he isn’t and probably even very ethical, he either doesn’t listen to them or doesn’t trust them–hence the daughter and son in law as key players. He’d have Don, Jr. and Eric there, too, except that he’d actually have to sell all of his companies, and there’s no way he’d do that. Maybe one reason he doesn’t trust the people he should is that he himself is neither trustworthy or loyal. He’s proven this with his marriages–the pussygrabbing comment was made at or near the time of Barron’s birth. How insulting to both his wife and child to be bragging about sexually assaulting women because he is a celebrity. And to Billy Bush, too; after all, wasn’t he a major TV personality?

    Trump looks bad because he’s not a competent leader, not trustworthy and doesn’t trust or listen to those he surrounds himself with. Being totally ego-driven, he’s his own worst enemy. This farce will continue until he grows tired of his new toy, has a stroke, or is impeached. On the bright side: he’s starting to look like hell, so the scorn he’s receiving is registering.

    As Sheila has pointed out, all of this would be funny if tRump didn’t have the nuclear codes at his disposal.

  24. Bradley, your comment is righteous. There is a closed universe for the Republicans and Trumpeteers. It is a single dimensional universe, a black hole of thought.

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