In a pre-taped segment that aired Thursday, President Donald Trump appeared on Fox News' Tucker Carlson Tonight. A long list of issues were covered, but one exchange was, for some, rather surprising:
CARLSON: "What do you at the end of the day? What do you read? What do you watch?"
TRUMP: "Well, you know, I love to read. Actually, I'm looking at a book, I'm reading a book, I'm trying to get started. Every time I do about a half a page, I get a phone call that there's some emergency--this or that. But we're going to see the home of Andrew Jackson today in Tennessee, and I'm reading a book on Andrew Jackson.
I love to read. I don't get to read very much, Tucker, because I'm working very hard on lots of different things--including getting costs down. The costs of our country are out of control, but we have a lot of great things happening; we have a lot of tremendous things happening."
As one would expect, social media couldn't let that one go quietly into the night:
@BraddJaffy Sounds like the opening to Flowers for Algernon.— Eric Jerome Dickey (@EricJDickey) March 17, 2017
.@BraddJaffy The man has never read a book in his life, including his own— Roland Scahill (@rolandscahill) March 17, 2017
@BraddJaffy he couldn't even name the book. I am ashamed he is our president— Karen Charron (@Kcharron155) March 17, 2017
Many Americans have come to the belief, it seems, that President Trump is, for lack of a more sophisticated word, dumb. This belief isn't confined to the Left, but that's where its roots are. Progressive comedian Samantha Bee ran a segment on her show, Full Frontal, in which she theorized that Trump was illiterate.
Trump's modest vocabulary, as well as the jumbled way in which he speaks, have also contributed to the notion that the president is less than literate.
Many progressives also theorize that Vice President Mike Pence, or White House Strategist Steve Bannon, are operating Trump like puppeteers, using the president to enact their own agendas. This is a rehash of progressive strategy from the George W. Bush years, when the Left claimed President Bush was simply a puppet of Dick Cheney.
Such a tactic is incredibly effective; stupid and evil is a compelling combination that is much more frightening than any singular brand. Multi-branding provides more avenues of attack, so when Americans tire of one angle, progressives can switch to the other, ginning up confusion and anger anew.
It's up for debate whether President Trump is a voracious reader like he claims. However, his answer, as well as the reactions to it, reveal one of many strategies that undergird progressive opposition to the president.