Genius doesn’t really mean what people think it means.
They think it refers to someone who is not only, “like, really smart”, but has a very high IQ score, maybe graduated from some good college, and maybe is a billionaire — although you’d think someone that smart should know that’s not even what “genius” really means.
Check the dictionary:
Check the dictionary:
• 1. exceptional intellectual or creative power or other natural ability. "she was a teacher of genius"
synonyms: brilliance, intelligence, intellect, ability, cleverness, brains, erudition, wisdom, fine mind
• 2. a person who is exceptionally intelligent or creative, either generally or in some particular respect. "one of the great musical geniuses of the 20th century"Nothing about IQ scores in any of that. Nothing in there about what college you went to, or starting a company, or progressing from a millionaire to a billionaire.
synonyms: brilliant person, gifted person, mastermind, Einstein, intellectual, great intellect, brain, mind
But first of all, you don’t have to be a genius to know that Donald Trump has not been gifted, from birth or otherwise, with “exceptional intellect or creativity”. Maybe it just boils down to being naturally talented at something or other.
So maybe Donald Trump is a genius, of sorts, if genius means having a talent for taking his dead dad’s large inheritance of millions of dollars, and growing it into something even larger.
That’s not too unlike what was done by Howard Hughes, another famous germaphobic nut-case playboy from an earlier era, who also didn’t drink or smoke, and who spent his twilight years growing his fingernails long, tended by a small staff of mormons as he feasted on TV Dinners in a darkened penthouse above Acapulco, not touching anything except through Kleenex, and dying a lonely shriveled old coot, with no more pretty Hollywood starlets around him, much less family, to bid him adieu.
If your definition of genius is having some outstanding talent, then maybe you can call Trump a genius, although his talent has mostly been in suckering other not-too-smart people into thinking that, because he’s a billionaire businessman, he must also be, like, really smart.
Even though he’s not.
Charles Blow handles that nicely in the New York Times today:
From everything I have ever read about the man, he is not particularly smart. This is sometimes hard for people to understand. They equate financial gain with intellectual gifts, but the two are hardly synonymous.
Being gifted at exploitation is not the same as intellectualism. It is a skill, but one separate from scholarship. Being able to see and exploit a need, void or insecurity in people can be an interesting, and even lucrative, endowment, but it is not enlightenment.
He is also not a reader. That is not to say that he can’t read, but rather that, given his druthers, he won’t.
In fact, he’s probably never had to be smart. Think about it: there’s no reason to believe he’s ever applied for a job, or gotten a promotion that wasn’t because he was the boss's son.
And forget his businesses. Someone once did a study of how rich Trump would be had he never started any business, nor taken any business into bankruptcy, but had he instead sunk his inheritances in stock market index funds, the most risk-averse of funds, and it was discovered he’d have ended up much richer if he’d just invested it all on Wall Street.
In defense of his “mental stability”, Trump, for some reason, cites having gone to a good college. Yes, Trump went to Wharton, but it should be noted that Ted Kaczynski, also known as the Unabomber, went to Harvard, an arguably even better school.
On the other hand, other than being — as Steve Bannon says of Ivanka — “dumb as a brick”, is Trump even mentally fit to be president?
I don’t know. Who really can say? Like being a “genius”, being a certifiable fruitcake doesn’t mean exactly what folks thinks it means. Even while he was safely ensconced in prison, nobody’s ever been able to nail down a reliable diagnosis of Kaczynski himself:
Kaczynski's lawyers, headed by Montana Federal public defenders Michael Donahoe and Judy Clarke, attempted to enter an insanity defense to avoid the death penalty, but he rejected this plea. On January 8, 1998, he requested to dismiss his lawyers and hire Tony Serra as his counsel; Serra had agreed not to use an insanity defense and instead base a defense on Kaczynski's anti-technology views. This request was unsuccessful and Kaczynski subsequently tried to commit suicide by hanging on January 9.
Several, though not all, forensic psychiatrists and psychologists who examined Kaczynski diagnosed him as suffering from paranoid schizophrenia. Forensic psychiatrist Park Dietz said Kaczynski was not psychotic but had a schizoid or schizotypal personality disorder.
In his 2010 book Technological Slavery, Kaczynski said that two prison psychologists that visited him frequently for four years told him they saw no indication that he suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and the diagnosis was "ridiculous" and a "political diagnosis".
So what chance do we have of any group of competent psychologists agreeing on what’s going on inside Trump’s noggin, given the fact that not even the Unabomber's shrinks can agree on his diagnosis?
For that matter, it’s not entirely out of the question to think that Ted Kaczynski, if reexamined, could be deemed mentally qualified to be president!
And why not? Are you sure the Unabomber would truly be any weirder a Chief Executive than the one we have now?