As readers here know, flat learning curves on the part of leaders, and certainly Presidents, drive me crazy. Leadership is hard, and the leader who refuses to learn the right lessons when his or her conduct when a particular act or decision has disastrous results is seriously and perhaps irreparably flawed, as well as untrustworthy.
President Trump has displayed so many flat learning curves in his tenure as President that is tempting to say that refusing to learn from mistakes and disasters is a conscious stylistic choice. Or perhaps that’s not what’s going on; perhaps the problem is not flat-learning curves, but rather the President’s well-established recklessness, his what the hell attitude that no matter what he does, he’ll come through it all right. In this latter interpretation, he has learned, but the wrong lessons.
At this point, I barely care. The problem, whatever it stems from results in incompetence. Like his idiotic tweet about the members of “the Squad” going “back where they came from,” teeing up the “Trump is a racist” ball for all of his foes; like the still ongoing controversy about his trivial statement about a hurricane hitting Alabama,;like his provocative bravado during the 9/11 commemoration reviving his disputed boast about going personally to Ground Zero, like too many careless and embarrassing appointments to list, this latest fiasco was a self-inflicted wound that was completely needless and yet has real, serious, potential consequences….like making people wonder how wise and safe it is to be governed by an executive who presides over perpetual ineptitude, laziness, and stupidity.
Christopher Grant, a 50-year-old Texas resident was one of 11 Americans who was to be honored last week by President Trump for their conspicuous heroism during the attacks in the El Paso or Dayton, Ohio.
Grant gave an interview from his hospital bed, telling reporters that he threw soda bottles at the El Paso gunman to distract him from shooting others, thus prompting the gunman to shoot him. It was a lie. El Paso police have reviewed video surveillance and concluded that it debunks Grant’s account.
When Grant arrived at the White House to receive his honor, the Secret Service stopped him; there was an outstanding warrant out for his arrest. Yet the President went ahead with the ceremony as planned, giving a certificate to Grant’s mother after lavishly praising her son. No, President Trump didn’t know at that point that Chris Grant was a fraud, but he did know that the Secret Service had detained the “hero” and that there was warrant out for his arrest. For anyone paying attention, that would be a giant red flag.
Moreover, the President did appoint the aides and staffers who, in a competent administration—when was the last one of those, I wonder?—would have made certain that an unverified, self-glorifying account by a dicey character like Grant would not be sufficient to make him the focus of a publicized event until it had been thoroughly authenticated.
Every time the President’s arrogant, sloppy, inept inattention results in such episodes, it becomes more difficult for him to prevail in the argument that even he, as awful as he is, is preferable to giving power to a party that has announced that it no longer believes in democracy, the Constitution, individual liberties, due process and the rule of law, not to mention the viability and worth of the United States of American itself. Because winning that argument is crucial to the future of the nation, it is detestable for Trump to undermine his own credibility and trust by such easily avoided humiliations like this.
Oh, one more thing, Mr President. If you can’t smile more convincingly than that, don’t.