In a scathing op-ed piece, New York Times’ columnist Ross Douthat put his finger on what Donald Trump is missing and desperately needs in order to save himself and his chaotic administration: a brain.
In the series of columns that he has been writing lately, Douthat tackles the depressing subject of the Trump administration’s first 100 days — “because really, in the face of such incompetence and chaos, what is there to say?”
“This administration seems so hopeless,” he notes, “any constructive advice for the Trump White House automatically falls into the category of implausible ideas.”
In order to deliver us from the pain inflicted by the Trump administration, Douthat offers unlikely-to-happen proposal: that our president should go out and get himself a brain.
“I do not mean a vat-grown cerebral cortex cooked up in some underground anti-aging lab funded by Silicon Valley immortalists,” he writes. “I mean a brain in the sense of […] a person, or better a group of persons, who can tell Trump what specific policies he ought to support.”
Douthat suggests that a core weakness of this White House, more devastating than the crazy tweets and permanent swirl of scandal, is the absence of anyone who knows what the heck they are doing.
Steve Bannon was supposed to help Trump figure all this out. But Bannon seems to have been particularly useless. During the health care negotiations, he encouraged Trump to work with the Freedom Caucus one day while to bully them the next, and throwing out various critiques of the Paul Ryan bill that didn’t point toward anything coherent.”
Of course, it is probably unreasonable to expect Trump, a man with limited knowledge outside orchestrating shady deals, reality TV shows and a fraudulent university to suddenly turn into a statesman.
But Trump needs something soon, fast, now, Douthat writes. He needs, in effect, a think tank inside the White House: a small group, separate from the process-oriented Domestic Policy Council, whose only task is to brief the president regularly on how to govern.
All of this assumes that Trump cares about the serious business of governing —which he doesn’t— and that he can accept advice and counsel in a sustained way, without descending into a crazy tweetstorm the instant someone makes a different case.
But I think we’re probably asking too much from the ignorant orange man.