On Friday, Politico ran perhaps the stupidest political article in human history. Its author, John F. Muller, “writes and studies philosophy in Wisconsin,” and formerly lectured at Harvard Law School. He also writes about idiotic things in idiotic ways, apparently. Because this Muller investigation is about how he sat next to Trump adviser Stephen Miller for a full year . . . in third grade.
The revelations in the nearly-1,000 word expose are shocking.
It’s hard to say how much a kid’s behavior in third grade can really tell you about the inner workings of his soul. And surely the well-documented indicators of Miller’s alt-right beginnings in middle school, high school and college have less impressionistic connections to his current behavior. But here is what I remember.
And oh, the memories! We learn that Muller liked to write stories about a “mixed-up chicken” named Jeremy, but that it was “difficult to make Stephen laugh” at them. It was difficult to “reach” Stephen at all – “He was frenquently distracted, vacillating between total disinterest in everything around him – my stories, of course, included – and complete obsession with highly specific tasks that could only be performed alone.”
Clearly, Miller was a budding sociopath.
And we find out much, much, much more. We find out that Miller had a penchant for tape and glue. You know, like every third grader in history. Furthermore, Miller built a separation barrier – oh, the symbolism! – on their desk. Muller admits that he appreciated the partition barrier, but that Miller refused to maintain that barrier in proper style:
Along the midpoint of our desk, Stephen laid down a piece of white masking tape, explaining that it marked the boundary of our sides and that I was not to cross it. … If this adhesive division kept Stephen on his side of the desk, I was all for it, as unfriendly as it seemed. But instead, the tape became an attractive nuisance. Stephen picked at it with his fingernails, methodically, in a mixture of absentmindedness and what seemed like channeled hostility. This process of effacement left a thin layer of sticky grime, not altogether dissimilar from the rest of Stephen’s desk. Stephen rubbed his fingers over this layer of grime, rolling it into little gray pellets until it, too, was gone. Then he applied a new piece of tape, along with a renewed warning that I was not to cross it. Don’t rinse, but do repeat—for months.
Oh. My. God.
Then it gets worse: it turns out that Miller liked to put glue on his hands, let it dry, and then peel it off. That pervert!
When Stephen wasn’t picking at the tape, he was playing with glue. He liked to pour it into his hands, forming grime-tinted glaciers in the valleys of his palms. Glue thusly in hand, he deployed his deepest powers of concentration to watch these pools harden. The first sign would be a rippling on the surface, as if from a winter gale. This would produce a precarious moment—as Stephen’s urge to stick a finger into the filmy layer became palpable, and his immobilized palm began to tire. Invariably, Stephen succumbed to this urge before the glue fully hardened, at which point the prior game transformed into a new one, the game of spreading still-viscous glue across the remainder of his hand. Then, once the glue dried, he picked it off in long strips, the glue pulling the skin on his palm outward as he tugged it with his other hand, the skin snapping back into place when each strip broke off.
Shocking. Just shocking.
Hilariously, that’s all Muller’s got. Really. That’s it. He concludes:
That is, for better or worse, the full extent of my memory of Stephen that year at Franklin Elementary School in Santa Monica, California, where the sign out front reads, “Be a friend not a bully.” I heard stories about him from friends as we got older, but I wasn’t around to witness things firsthand: I switched to a different school after sixth grade. What to make of this now, 25 years later? We were all grimy kids at some point, of course, with sticky hands and short attention spans. But it is at least poetic that Stephen was bent on building a nonsensical wall even back then, a wall that had more to do with what lay inside him than with what lay beyond. He thought he was trying to keep out the chaos of the world, when really he was looking for a way to explain away the chaos on his own side of the desk. For that was where chaos had always been.
Wait until Muller releases the pee tape – of Miller peeing his pants as a child. Then he’ll finally take down Trump and his subversive, pathological aide, cruel tape-and-glue devotee Stephen Miller.