Earlier this week, Donald Trump commented on his decision to bury a study on climate change, produced by his own administration and featuring the input of 13 federal agencies and more than 300 leading climate scientists, by saying simply, “I don’t believe it.”
We’ve seen that attitude from Trump over and over and over and over. If something doesn’t fit with his existing view, it’s probably not true. If scientists don’t give the results he wants, science isn’t that trustworthy. If reporters don’t praise him enough, their stories are made up. But in a wide-scope interview with The Washington Post, he explains that mentality in a way that’s so blunt it’s baffling, even for him.
When asked about the climate change report and his reaction to it, here’s what he said (emphasis mine):
“One of the problems that a lot of people like myself — we have very high levels of intelligence, but we’re not necessarily such believers. You look at our air and our water, and it’s right now at a record clean. But when you look at China and you look at parts of Asia and when you look at South America, and when you look at many other places in this world, including Russia, including — just many other places — the air is incredibly dirty. And when you’re talking about an atmosphere, oceans are very small. And it blows over and it sails over. I mean, we take thousands of tons of garbage off our beaches all the time that comes over from Asia. It just flows right down the Pacific, it flows, and we say where does this come from. And it takes many people to start off with.”
Oceans. Are. Very. Small. That’s a thing the president said.
He went on to talk about “movement in the atmosphere” and once again stated his belief that “raking” could have prevented wildfires. (He’s previously cited Finland as an example of that practice. Finland denied that that was based in reality.)
But it’s that first sentence up there that really captures Trump. As the Post notes in their annotated transcript of the interview, “Few Trump quotes have epitomized him like this one. He has been skeptical of U.S. intelligence, the judiciary, the legal system, climate change, and many other institutions and other sources of expertise.”
When things don’t make sense to Donald Trump, he assumes it’s because he’s more intelligent than the experts providing him with facts and data. That’s his default state. I don’t know about you, but I don’t know too many truly intelligent people who operate from that position.
Later in the same interview, when talking about negative economic reports, he again gives us way too clear a window into the way his brain works.
He told the reporters, “They’re making a mistake because I have a gut, and my gut tells me more sometimes than anybody else’s brain can ever tell me.”
Does that sound familiar? Of course it does, it’s the actual foundation of The Colbert Report.
literal premise of THE COLBERT REPORT https://t.co/J0rssZreNb
— Jason Linkins (@dceiver) November 28, 2018
Check out this clip from Stephen Colbert’s 2006 White House Correspondents’ Dinner roast of George W. Bush. It’s uncanny.
“Guys like us, we’re not some brainiacs on the nerd patrol,” he says. “We’re not members of the factonista. We go straight from the gut. That’s where the truth lies, right down here, in the gut. Do you know you have more nerve endings in your gut than you have in your head? You can look it up. Now I know some of you are going to say ‘I did look it up and that’s not true.’ That’s ’cause you looked it up in a book. Next time, look it up in your gut. I did. My gut tells me that’s how our nervous system works.”
Obviously, that’s hilarious, but it’s also terrifying and genuinely dangerous. When Trump was elected, there were a lot of people trying to calm our collective nerves by saying it won’t be that bad. He’s the president, he’ll surround himself with people that actually know what they’re doing and he’ll listen to them and we’ll be fine. But that’s not what’s happened. Trump is ignoring reports put out by his own government because they contradict his gut.
“I have a gut, and my gut tells me more sometimes than anybody else’s brain can ever tell me.” I sure hope that’s the rock bottom of his inanity, but every time I think we’ve hit that place, he breaks through to new unexplored depths.
(via Washington Post, image: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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