You’ll have to excuse the bluntness of the headline, but there’s really no other way to properly frame this question: are the people on Trump’s staff crazy or incompetent?
Notice I didn’t ask if the staff is evil. That’s more a matter of opinion and moral perspective (that is, provided you yourself are not evil, your moral perspective will be, “of course, this shit is evil”). But I’m not interested in talking about the goals of the administration. I’m interested in talking about the methods. And people in the Trump administration? Your methods are bad. I think.
Let’s take for example last week’s Spicer press conference, and Trump’s general reaction to the Women’s Marches taking place all over the world. Trump made a big goddamn deal about the press not being nice to him about crowd sizes, and now it’s a thing. It’s a thing that Sean Spicer had to lecture the press about on Saturday, which then required a response from Kellyanne Conway on Sunday, producing the infamous “alternative facts” line. This was, in every way, a media relations failure on the part of the administration. But was that failure due to the gross incompetence of Trump’s staff, or a genius-level play at misdirection and subterfuge? Did Steve Bannon essentially orchestrate a victory for the anti-Trump crowd so we wouldn’t be paying attention to all of the other misdeeds they were committing?
Similarly, were this weekend’s Executive Orders intentionally inflammatory in order to reduce focus on Bannon’s addition to the National Security Council? As Dustin stated in his write up on this weekend’s political activities (something I’m guessing will becoming a running feature),
The reaction to [the Executive Order] was swift — and honestly, the worst thing Trump could have done from an optics perspective was to apply it to anyone en route, which created detainees in airports across the country. Elderly detainees, children who were detainees, detainees who helped the U.S. military, detainees with wonderful American stories.
Bannon and Co. implemented this policy in literally the worst way possible. Why? I’m not trying to get all conspiracy theory on you guys, but do any of the actions taken in the last ten days seem like those of a highly competent band of would-be tyrannical dictators? Or do they seem like the actions of a group of entitled, man-children who wouldn’t know a good optic if it pissed all over their fancy hotel bed? They seem to have essentially taken every page from every dictator’s playbook or some godawful CliffsNotes version of 1984, and said, “Yeah, yeah, let’s do that.” Without realizing, we’ve been studying that shit, too.
Now, it’s entirely possible, given the intellectual make-up of Trump’s cabinet and brain, that this is, in fact, gross incompetence. But I’m not willing to trust these fuckers any farther than a female reporter could walk through the West Wing without getting her ass grabbed. So while we’re rightfully and righteously fighting an unAmerican, bigoted Executive Order designed to dehumanize Muslims, remember this is only part of what Bannon is doing.
At the end of the day, maybe it doesn’t really matter if it’s insanity or stupidity. What matters is that we stand up to it.