Donald Trump meets Dr Norman Swan’s clever son

It was a most enlightening experience for the viewer, if not for Donald Trump. And a note: I will be calling him by his proper name here, not Twerp or Fantasist-in-Chief or others I have coined of late. No, the situation is too tragic for that. Nor is this a political or economic analysis. These are not my fields, and there are a thousand-and-one such analyses already out there and counting. Indeed  in their own way they multiply rather like cases of Coronavirus.

And for the uninitiated: Jonathan Swan, that intrepid Axios interviewer, is the son of our ABC’s Dr Norman Swan, who does a daily podcast here in Australia on COVID! Yes, I am sure when it comes to Jonathan’s being on top of that situation the apple has not fallen far from the tree.

I am sure you will find the whole interview in YouTube or wherever, as it has deservedly gone viral. Here is a potted version.

And here is some of the fun being had:

Aussie cartoonist Rowe always depicts Trump naked — and this is his brilliant cartoon on that interview.

rowe 1

In so depicting Donald Trump Rowe is referencing Hans Christian Andersen — and maybe Danny Kaye!

And yes — the nakedness of the President of the United States was indeed there for all to see during the 30 minutes plus of that interview. One analysis I approve of is Abby Zimet, Lower Than the World.

Gotta Laugh Or Cry Dept: If you haven’t heard, the latest grim proof of “the soul-shattering ignorance of our country’s leader” is his deeply deranged interview with The Axios‘ Jonathan Swan, who offered up a master class in the kind of actual, unsparing, nuts-and-bolts-journalism – Look! Follow-up questions! Reality checks! Brazen disbelief! – U.S. mainstream media has largely, disastrously avoided lo these long, long four years. An Australian journalist, Swan was assured and assertive, with an open, mobile face and only his fast-tapping right foot expressing what one observer deemed were his, and all our, “silent screams.” In contrast, the lumpish Trump did his weird sitting-on-the toilet thing, his eyes pin-points, his hair wisp-thin as Swan repeatedly, often incredulously exposed his “staggering idiocy.”

At the beginning of the interview Jonathan Swan hit gold, as far as I am concerned, obviously thinking what I have for some time now: that there is something tragic about Donald Trump when you see him not merely as a congenital serial liar, which he is, but as a victim of a particularly American disease which I have dubbed the Willy Loman Syndrome. Or it might be called the Gatsby Disease. Others might simply call it The Power of Positive Thinking, which is what that marginally Christian writer from the 20th century, Norman Vincent Peale called it. The belief that if you believe bullshit hard enough and say the bullshit is true often enough then your bullshit WILL be true! In the cases of Gatsby and Willy Loman the outcome was tragedy, though also admirable if seen sympathetically.

But he’s a human being, and a terrible thing is happening to him. So attention must be paid. He’s not to be allowed to fall into his grave like an old dog. Attentionattention must be finally paid to such a person.

Unfortunately if the victim of the syndrome happens to have been elected President of the United States, the tragedy falls on all the world.

I also note this Tweet from John Simpson, doyen of English political interviewers:

I’ve just watched @realDonaldTrump’s latest TV interview in full. As someone who has interviewed world leaders from Gorbachev to Putin, Thatcher to al-Assad, Ayatollah Khomeini to Mandela, I can honestly say he seems worse informed & less impressive than any of them.

OK, my first Facebook rant on hearing the interview right through for the first time:

This is so revealing I am posting it all for you to form your own judgement. All I can say is first the obvious: Donald Trump is no Jacinta Ardern — in fact any comparison is ridiculous.

Second: he is no Daniel Andrews, or even Scott Morrison either. Again, any comparison is chalk and cheese.

This has to be one of the most embarrassing interviews EVER! It is clear proof of his incompetence. I simply cannot imagine anyone watching this through without wanting to crawl under the nearest bed!

By the way: Trump was 10,000 short in his account of how many of his own people had died. That is just one tiny bit of misinformation and nonsense to come out of his mouth in the half hour of this interview.

The main function of China in the interview is as the “dead cat on the table” distraction. The only touch of “genius” — or is it just rat cunning: — in the whole interview.

Six minutes ago someone on YouTube commented:
Summary of interview:
Swan: asks a question
Trump: I me me mine best

I am pleased with that.  But it is nothing compared with yesterday, when I took on Donald Trump’s oft-repeated claims to be a “stable genius” who “aced” an intelligence test — actually a dementia diagnosis instrument. This is no mere eccentricity — Trump’s behaviour in this is a clear sign of personality disorder, in my inexpert opinion, one shared by these two:

Now yesterday’s Facebook rant, edited a little as a continuation of this post.

Yes, those two are taking the mickey out of him, but Trump has enabled them to do so. I agree with their assessment which is not at all amusing. And the Swan interview simply confirms in spades that — let me use capitals:


That, folks, is in my book a fact. Here is an article on Donald Trump’s essentially IGNORANT obsession with IQ.

While the exact reason for Trump’s IQ obsession is difficult to nail down, people who know him suspect it stems in part from his desire to project an image of success and competence, despite scattered business failings and repeated allegations from critics that he’s incompetent. Trump is also known for being thin-skinned. He often fires back at anyone who criticizes him with a barrage of insults, while simultaneously building himself up.

“I don’t think you have to put him on the couch to see that someone who has such a consistent need to build himself up and belittle everyone else must have some problems with self-esteem,” said Trump biographer Gwenda Blair, who wrote a book about the Trump family. “It’s a lifelong theme for him.”

BTW — I pretty much know mine, or at least what it was when I was a kid. How? Because my 6th Class teacher, Mr O’Neill, took the trouble of visiting my mother at home to persuade my parents to allow me to go to Sydney High, which they were for a number of reasons (the travel time being one) reluctant to do, just as they had decided against my going to the Opportunity Class then at Hurstville a year or so earlier. My grandfather Roy Christison also tested my IQ — he was an ex Primary School Principal.

So I more or less know what it is — on the scale below moderately to highly gifted. Not a genius. I was however in 1954 the possessor apparently of the highest IQ score ever recorded at Sutherland Public School. Fact. (Some cruel folk could say that Sutherland 1954 was starting from a low base… Just Shire haters, that’s all!)

The average score on an IQ test is 100. These labels are often given for IQ scores:

  • 1 to 24: Profound mental disability
  • 25 to 39: Severe mental disability
  • 40 to 54: Moderate mental disability
  • 55 to 69: Mild mental disability
  • 70 to 84: Borderline mental disability
  • 85 to 114: Average intelligence
  • 115 to 129: Above average or bright
  • 130 to 144: Moderately gifted
  • 145 to 159: Highly gifted
  • 160 to 179: Exceptionally gifted
  • 180 and up: Profoundly gifted

I soon found however a few of my class mates — I could name at least three — at Sydney High would undoubtedly have been at the genius end of the scale. So have more than one of those I have taught from Cronulla High in 1966-9 through Wollongong High, Fort Street and Sydney High into this century….

Whatever all that means of course. I am still a fan of the idea of multiple intelligences (Howard Gardner) though I believe that is no longer in fashion. (Or the version that translates them into “learning styles” is out of fashion.)

Howard Gardner, the Harvard professor who originally proposed the theory, says that there are multiple types of human intelligence, each representing different ways of processing information:

  • Verbal-linguistic intelligence refers to an individual’s ability to analyze information and produce work that involves oral and written language, such as speeches, books, and emails.
  • Logical-mathematical intelligence describes the ability to develop equations and proofs, make calculations, and solve abstract problems.
  • Visual-spatial intelligence allows people to comprehend maps and other types of graphical information.
  • Musical intelligence enables individuals to produce and make meaning of different types of sound.
  • Naturalistic intelligence refers to the ability to identify and distinguish among different types of plants, animals, and weather formations found in the natural world.
  • Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence entails using one’s own body to create products or solve problems.
  • Interpersonal intelligence reflects an ability to recognize and understand other people’s moods, desires, motivations, and intentions.
  • Intrapersonal intelligence refers to people’s ability to recognize and assess those same characteristics within themselves.

One thing I am sure of: Donald Trump is not and never will be a genius. No matter how often he says it. The power of positive thinking does not extend so far! Sorry, Donald.

Final note: I was also rotten at Woodwork and not crash hot at Maths, and one of my definite genius classmates had not mastered at age 11-12 the art of tying his shoelaces. Being a genius though he is the first person I ever knew to wear elastic shoelaces– then of his own invention. But at that age he could tell you just about everything then known about sub-atomic particles.

As a matter of interest, after around 1969 I rarely even looked at the student record cards to see what their IQ might be, having become more than a bit sceptical about the meaning of the score.

One more thing. I don’t usually post any of the many ads coming out of the US election campaign, but this one from a US citizen working in CHIIINAAAH! seems spot on to me, so I leave it with you.