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Monday, January 8, 2018

The Very Stable Genius Who Runs the Free World Works Less Than I Do

Posted by on Mon, Jan 8, 2018 at 9:31 AM

This post is excerpted from the INDY’s morning newsletter, Primer. To read this morning’s edition in full, click here. To get all the day’s local and national headlines and insights delivered straight to your inbox, sign up here.

This weekend on Twitter, President Trump, responding to a Fox & Friends segment on reporters questioning the president’s mental acuity in light of revelations in Michael Wolff’s salacious Fire & Fury, declared himself “like, really smart” and a “very stable genius,” a proclamation that quickly met with widespread derision. (Wolff’s book says top Trump aides described him as an “idiot,” “dumb as shit,” and a “dope.”) [Vox] On Sunday, Stephen Bannon, who talked at length to Wolff, tried to walk back some of his more scandalous statements [NYT], as White House adviser Stephen Miller, the dead-eyed Duke alum and former Richard Spencer pal, went on Jake Tapper’s CNN program to trash Bannon (who referred to him as “my typist”) and defend the president, whom he repeatedly called a genius. It, um, didn’t go well, and ended with Tapper accusing Miller of wasting his audience’s time and cutting him off.
  • And responding to Trump’s Twitter claim that he is a ‘very stable genius,’ Miller stood by his man, repeatedly asserting that the president speaks the truth. ‘The president is a political genius … who took down the Bush dynasty, who took down the Clinton dynasty, who took down the entire media complex,’ he said. Tapper, sensing that Miller was catering to a very specific viewer with his comments, said, ‘I’m sure he’s watching and he’s happy you said that.’ Miller grew incensed and accused Tapper of being ‘condescending,’ and the two started talking over each other. Miller became so irate that Tapper told him to ‘settle down’ at one point. Later, Miller dodged another question about the president’s fitness by attacking CNN for promoting ‘very fake news,’ and again proclaimed Trump’s genius.” [NY Mag]
  • Tapper was right that Miller was performing for Trump and Trump alone. And Trump ate it up, tweeting that Miller had “destroyed” Tapper. [CBS] (You can watch the whole thing here and decide for yourself. [NY Mag])
  • And then, after the interview, Miller had to be thrown out by security: “Miller was asked to leave the set multiple times but refused to leave, after which he was escorted out by security, a CNN employee confirmed to The Hill.” [The Hill]

EXECUTIVE TIME: If you’re predisposed to thinking of the president as, well, not exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer—or, at least, not the most engaged president of all time—this report from Axios won’t shake that view. The website got ahold of Trump’s private schedules, which boil down to this: Watch cable news and tweet at the TV from eight until eleven, which the schedule calls “Executive Time”; go to an intelligence briefing; have another hour of Executive Time; take an hour lunch; another hour or so of Executive Time; a meeting with his national security adviser; more Executive Time; a meeting with the head of presidential personnel; end the day at four fifteen. Seriously, that’s his Tuesday.
  • In a statement, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended Executive Time in a typically obsequious manner: "The time in the morning is a mix of residence time and Oval Office time but he always has calls with staff, Hill members, cabinet members and foreign leaders during this time. The President is one of the hardest workers I've ever seen and puts in long hours and long days nearly every day of the week all year long.”

WHAT IT MEANS: When your CIA director has to defend your basic literacy [Business Insider], your administration isn’t winning the conversation. For all of Fire & Fury’s many reported faults, the book has kickstarted a debate about the president’s competence and fitness for office, and to my mind, the administration hasn’t responded particularly well to a conversation it does not want to be having.

Related: In 2006, a psychologist tried to determine the smartest presidents. They were: John Quincy Adams, Thomas Jefferson, John F. Kennedy, Bill Clinton, and Woodrow Wilson. He says Barack is Obama is “obviously far more intelligent” than Trump. [WaPo]

Related: Trump’s Twitter threats have world leaders worried. [NYT]

Related: Trump, who has nothing more important to attend to, is planning the “fake news awards” for Wednesday. [Politico]

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