George Will’s diagnosis of Trump’s ‘dangerous disability’

A lot of readers don’t like George F. Will. They find him haughty, imperious and supercilious, and his writing dense, showy and vague.

But when he takes some of those qualities and packs them into a pointed diagnosis of just what is wrong with Donald J. Trump, he can be a pleasure to read. And edifying to boot.

Take today’s column, “Trump has a dangerous disability,” in which he writes:

It is urgent for Americans to think and speak clearly about President Trump’s inability to do either. This seems to be not a mere disinclination but a disability. It is not merely the result of intellectual sloth but of an untrained mind bereft of information and married to stratospheric self-confidence….

Amen to all of that, especially that first sentence. That, after all, is the problem: Not that Trump might have the wrong idea about this or that, but that his brain doesn’t really do ideas, can’t process or express them clearly, and lacks the informational foundation for forming them in the first place.


George WillWhat is most alarming (and mortifying to the University of Pennsylvania, from which he graduated) is not that Trump has entered his eighth decade unscathed by even elementary knowledge about the nation’s history. As this column has said before, the problem isn’t that he does not know this or that, or that he does not know that he does not know this or that. Rather, the dangerous thing is that he does not know what it is to know something….

Absolutely. And here’s the big finish:

Americans have placed vast military power at the discretion of this mind, a presidential discretion that is largely immune to restraint by the Madisonian system of institutional checks and balances. So, it is up to the public to quarantine this presidency by insistently communicating to its elected representatives a steady, rational fear of this man whose combination of impulsivity and credulity render him uniquely unfit to take the nation into a military conflict.

I share this partly because the piece was a pleasure to read, but also because some of you seem genuinely puzzled that I don’t just accept that Donald Trump is president of the United States, calm down and move on.

I don’t do that because I see clearly that it is my duty to be “insistently communicating to [my] elected representatives” just how unacceptable this state of affairs is. Every citizen who perceives the danger has an obligation “to think and speak clearly about President Trump’s inability to do either.”

14 thoughts on “George Will’s diagnosis of Trump’s ‘dangerous disability’

  1. Karen Pearson

    “Rather, the dangerous thing is that he does not know what it is to know something.”—That’s the most succinct, accurate description of Trump’s primary ‘disability’ I have seen.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Yes. It’s very good.

      And it reminds me of another post I mean to write, posing the question: Is Trump really a liar? That is, if you honestly don’t know the difference between a lie and the truth, then you’re not lying, right?

  2. Harry Harris

    Ignorance or malice can either have dire consequence, but… you and I both know he knowingly lies a lot. He just doesn’t seem to have the moral underpining to think it’s wrong. But, Trump supporters, you knew darn well he was a snake before you put him in.

  3. bud

    It could be that he is actually suffering some type of actual early onset dementia. I’m not the only one to consider that. I don’t think we’ll really know until there is a genuine crisis. Until then I guess we just sit back and hope the 25th amendment kicks in.

    1. Scout

      But I think there is pretty good evidence that he has behaved this way for most of his public life.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        And the White House, and the entire administration, was filled with seasoned professionals.

        To get an idea of the contrast, you might want to read this piece in Vanity Fair…

        Dang! I can’t find a link to it! The headline on it was something like “The Westeros Wing,” which just seemed like a setup for this artwork — it had little to do with the actual piece, which seriously examined all the main players in the administration and how they interact.

        Sorry I couldn’t find the piece online…

  4. Sue

    Get a speech/language pathologist who specializes in geriatrics to do a language sample analysis. Bingo. Team up with medical, neurology and you’re close to your dx.

    We don’t have to put up with this. Like George Will says: Trump has a dangerous disability.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *