"The U.S. presidency isn't an entry-level job."--Hillary Clinton. https://t.co/T47GlAWu1Z— Melissa McEwan (@Shakestweetz) April 14, 2017
Donald Trump did an interview with the Associated Press, the complete transcript for which is available here. The entire thing is appalling, for all the usual reasons, but chief among them is the further evidence that Trump had no idea what he was getting into and doesn't even appear remotely ashamed that he is dangerously clueless about the gravity of the United States presidency.
For example: He casually admits that when he said NATO is obsolete that he didn't know anything about NATO. (Emphasis mine.)
TRUMP: They had a quote from me that NATO's obsolete. But they didn't say why it was obsolete. I was on Wolf Blitzer, very fair interview, the first time I was ever asked about NATO, because I wasn't in government. People don't go around asking about NATO if I'm building a building in Manhattan, right? So they asked me, Wolf ... asked me about NATO, and I said two things. NATO's obsolete — not knowing much about NATO, now I know a lot about NATO — NATO is obsolete, and I said, "And the reason it's obsolete is because of the fact they don't focus on terrorism." You know, back when they did NATO there was no such thing as terrorism.It's horrendous that he was unfamiliar with NATO in the first place, and horrendous that he thinks there's no problem with admitting he didn't.
Further, his claim that he now knows "a lot about NATO" is fairly suspect, given his assertion that "back when they did NATO there was no such thing as terrorism." NATO was established in 1949, smack in the middle of a 16-year terror spree in New York City orchestrated by George Metesky, who planted explosives "in theaters, terminals, libraries, and offices. Bombs were left in phone booths, storage lockers, and restrooms in public buildings, including Grand Central Terminal, Pennsylvania Station, Radio City Music Hall, the New York Public Library, the Port Authority Bus Terminal and the RCA Building, and in the New York City Subway. Metesky also bombed movie theaters, where he cut into seat upholstery and slipped his explosive devices inside." He "planted at least 33 bombs, of which 22 exploded, injuring 15 people."
That certainly wasn't the only act of terrorism before 1949, but it was a significant one, which happened in Trump's hometown. His ignorance of history is stunning. Of course, that's partly because Trump's definition of terrorism seemingly excludes domestic terrorism committed by white men.
Elsewhere in the interview, Trump expresses surprise at how much the presidency necessitates caring about people. (Emphasis mine.)
AP: You've talked a little bit about the way that you've brought some business skills into the office. Is there anything from your business background that just doesn't translate into the presidency, that just simply is not applicable to this job?Only after becoming president did Trump realize that you have to give a shit about other people, because "almost everything affects people."
TRUMP: Well in business, you don't necessarily need heart, whereas here, almost everything affects people. So if you're talking about health care — you have health care in business but you're trying to just negotiate a good price on health care, et cetera, et cetera. You're providing health. This is (unintelligible). Here, everything, pretty much everything you do in government, involves heart, whereas in business, most things don't involve heart.
AP: What's that switch been like for you?
TRUMP: In fact, in business you're actually better off without it.
And if that weren't incredible enough, he also explains that he's realized "how big" the presidency is, and what "great responsibility" is has. (Emphasis mine.)
AP: Can I ask you, over your first 100 days — you're not quite there yet — how do you feel like the office has changed you?I don't know what I find more appalling—that he's only now realizing the extraordinary gravity of the presidency and the scope of the federal government, or that he imagines that "human life" is only "involved in some of the decisions." Some.
TRUMP: Well the one thing I would say — and I say this to people — I never realized how big it was. Everything's so (unintelligible) like, you know the orders are so massive. I was talking to —
AP: You mean the responsibility of it, or do you mean —
TRUMP: Number One, there's great responsibility. When it came time to, as an example, send out the 59 missiles, the Tomahawks in Syria. I'm saying to myself, "You know, this is more than just like, 79 (sic) missiles. This is death that's involved," because people could have been killed. This is risk that's involved, because if the missile goes off and goes in a city or goes in a civilian area — you know, the boats were hundreds of miles away — and if this missile goes off and lands in the middle of a town or a hamlet ... every decision is much harder than you'd normally make. (unintelligible) ... This is involving death and life and so many things. ... So it's far more responsibility. (unintelligible) ... The financial cost of everything is so massive, every agency. This is thousands of times bigger, the United States, than the biggest company in the world. The second-largest company in the world is the Defense Department. The third-largest company in the world is Social Security. The fourth-largest — you know, you go down the list.
TRUMP. It's massive. And every agency is, like, bigger than any company. So you know, I really just see the bigness of it all, but also the responsibility. And the human responsibility. You know, the human life that's involved in some of the decisions.
Trump is an impossibly shallow, deeply unserious man. He is catastrophically unprepared, and unfit, for the presidency. Which was patently obvious when he was running, and has only become even more painfully evident now that he's got the job.
And a big part of how we got here is a political press that was determined to project an aggressively undeserved parity between the two candidates, not only by eliding Trump's tremendous lack of preparation for this extraordinarily demanding and important job, but also by criticizing Hillary Clinton's preparation for it, turning that preparation into a negative.
Now here we are. And casting Clinton's preparedness as a problem seems more goddamn foolish and breathtakingly irresponsible than ever.
But far from examining their own responsibility, as Nate Silver has observed, "the media's election post-mortems have mostly ignored it because it implicates the media's judgement."
Which, suffice it to say, was lacking.