It Was All A Big Mistrumperstanding
This last weekend, President-Elect Donald Trump announced to the world that he had access to some startling new information about the Russian attacks against the US presidential elections last year. Nobody else had this information but him, Trump said, but he promised to reveal this secret information to the American people on Tuesday or Wednesday this week.
“I also know things that other people don’t know, and so they cannot be sure of the situation,” Trump said. “You’ll find out on Tuesday or Wednesday.”
Then, Trump channeled the archetype of the clueless grandfather as he cited his elementary school son’s ability to do whiz bang things with computers. “I have a boy who’s 10 years old, he can do anything with a computer. You want something to really go without detection, write it out and have it sent by courier,” Trump declared. Trump’s suggestion was that, if his 10 year-old son could confuse him with a computer, maybe anybody could launch an attack against the US in order to manipulate the presidential election, so maybe it wasn’t the Russians after all.
This statement was reminiscent of Trump’s baffled response when he was asked about cybersecurity during one of the presidential debates last year: “We have to get very, very tough on cyber and cyberwarfare,” Trump said then. “It is, it is a huge problem. I have a son. He’s 10 years old. He has computers. He is so good with these computers, it’s unbelievable. The security aspect of cyber is very, very tough, and maybe it’s hardly doable.”
Today, we have learned that Trump’s promise to release new information about the Russian cyberattack against the United States was based upon his mistaken belief that he would receive information on the subject during a security briefing scheduled for yesterday – Tuesday. Trump has rejected intelligence agencies’ efforts to provide him with a daily security briefing, as most presidents and presidents-elect have received in modern times, in favor of weekly briefing.
Trump appears to have confused yesterday’s briefing with another meeting scheduled for Friday. That meeting was scheduled by intelligence agencies in order to bring Trump up to date on the content of the latest report on attacks by Russian spies sent by Vladimir Putin in order to manipulate the U.S. presidential election of 2016 in Trump’s favor. Barack Obama, the current President of the United States, is scheduled to receive the contents of that report first, on Thursday.
So, when Trump bragged over the weekend that he had top secret information that would exonerate the Russians, and would share it on Tuesday or Wednesday, he was referring to information he hadn’t even received yet, in a meeting whose simple scheduling he had failed to understand.
Donald Trump finally realized his mistake yesterday, when he received the security briefing without any new revelations about the Russian cyberattack. Instead of acknowledging his error, and admitting that he was bluffing when he claimed to have secret information exonerating the Russians, Trump pretended that it was the intelligence agencies who had made the mistake.
Late yesterday, Trump tweeted that, “The ‘Intelligence’ briefing on so-called ‘Russian hacking’ was delayed until Friday, perhaps more time needed to build a case. Very strange!” Of course, the briefing that Trump referred to was always scheduled for Friday. Trump simply couldn’t keep the dates straight in his head.
This kind of foggy response to information that is clearly understood by everyone around him is so typical of Donald Trump, and so dangerously relevant to the world, that it deserves a new word to describe it. I propose the term mistrumperstanding. The definition:
A situation in which Donald Trump’s unique combination of ignorance, an inability to grasp complicated concepts, and confidence in his own ideas results in confused outbursts that are out of sync with reality.