President Obama turned a Laos press conference into a platform for pontification on Thursday, telling reporters that Donald Trump was not ready to assume the responsibilities of the Oval Office.
“I don’t think the guy is qualified to be president of the United States,” Obama said. “And every time he speaks, that opinion is confirmed.”
Obama, an expert on what it means to be unqualified for the presidency, said that he was still certain that the American people would ultimately reject Trump.
“The most important thing for the public and the press is to just listen to what he says and follow up and ask questions to what appear to be either contradictory or uninformed or outright wacky ideas,” he advised.
That’s a wise suggestion, but Obama is assuming that the press and the public will be able to identify the ideas that fall into those categories. With so much at stake in this election, we can’t afford to take anything for granted. We need to come up with some examples so we know what to look for.
For instance, if Trump were to tell the public on one day that a $400 million payment to Iran had nothing to do with the release of American prisoners and then tell us later that the two events were directly dependent on one another, that would fall into the “contradictory” category. Or he could promote a healthcare law using promises that were gradually revealed to be deceptions. Or he could warn an adversary not to cross a “red line” in the sand and then shrug it off when that adversary brazenly called his bluff. That kind of thing.
What about the “uninformed” category? Let’s put our imaginations to work. Trump could, perhaps, dramatically underestimate the threat of a growing terrorist organization, waving them off as a “JV team.” Or maybe he could bumble his way into a nuclear pact with a nation that is hostile to the U.S. and Israel. Conceivably, Trump might even demonstrate a pattern of confusion about the limits of his presidential authority. That would certainly fall into the “uninformed” category, would it not?
So those two categories are simple enough to define, but how do you decide which ideas belong to the “outright wacky” collection? What could Trump say that would belong here? To keep it fun, lets really stretch our creative muscles. What if Trump were to tell successful entrepreneurs that they didn’t really build their own businesses? That would be pretty wacky. What if he said that Islamic terrorism didn’t have anything at all to do with Islam? What if he thought climate change was the greatest threat to America’s national security? What if he told the public that Hillary Clinton, of all people, should be the next president?
Obama explained that Americans needed to be wary of normalizing behavior we would ordinarily “consider completely outrageous and unacceptable.”
Like we said, the man’s an expert.