Sometime you just don’t know what you don’t know. In 1999, two scientists, Dunning and Kruger, published a study that postulated many people over-estimate their abilities; in effect they are ignorant of their own ignorance. President Donald Trump, famous for saying how much smarter he was than anybody else, is a walking example of what is now known as the Dunning-Kruger Effect. Every day, we the public find out the depths of Trump’s ignorance on many subjects, especially those he has previously proclaimed to be expert in.
While campaigning, Trump made many, many promises, one of the biggest was about Obamacare. He really hated Obamacare:
“But Obamacare kicks in in 2016. Really big league. It is going to be amazingly destructive. Doctors are quitting. I have a friend who’s a doctor, and he said to me the other day, ‘Donald, I never saw anything like it. I have more accountants than I have nurses.’ It’s a disaster. My patients are beside themselves. They had a plan that was good. They have no plan now.”
This doctor was never identified. Killing Obamacare was a big applause line for candidate Trump. The problem was, many of his voters didn’t take him seriously about health care, and didn’t associate the despised “Obamacare” with their own insurance. Trump said he’d yank Obamacare and give them something better, “Insurance for everybody”, “Obamacare. We’re going to repeal it, we’re going to replace it, get something great. Repeal it, replace it, get something great!”
It wasn’t any of those things, however – repealed, replaced or great. Trump was ignorant of his own heath care ignorance. Did he learn? Trump:
“I have to tell you, it’s an unbelievably complex subject. Nobody knew health care could be so complicated.”
Nobody knew. It was completely unknowable until Trump discovered it late one night while watching CNN reruns in his bathrobe. Health care is a difficult and complex issue, which is why it took so long to write and pass the ACA in the first place. Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan wrote their bill in about a month (well, Ryan wrote it, Trump just initialed it and sent him on his way).
That cobbled-together health care bill went down in flames, killed not by the powerless Democrats, but by the moderates and the far right of Trump’s own party. “Obamacare” once despised and vilified by the right has only grown in popularity since President Trump took office. Trump is now threatening to withhold subsidies that help the insurance companies pay the cost of polices hoping to cause a crisis so he can blackmail the Democrats to help him out. He just won’t learn.
On the campaign trail, candidate Trump would frequently threaten China, calling them the “grand champions of currency manipulation” and vowing to hold them accountable. He is now praising them, because he’s discovered the world is complex and dangerous and North Korea has nuclear weapons that we might need a little help with. After meeting with the leader of China, President Trump had this to say:
“[President Xi] then went into the history of China and Korea….And Korea actually used to be a part of China. And after listening for 10 minutes I realized that it’s not so easy. You know I felt pretty strongly that they have a tremendous power over China….But it’s not what you would think.”
No, it’s not what Donald Trump would think. China is the country he thought it was clever to bait by calling the president of Taiwan (breaking decades of tradition, as China considers Taiwan part of China itself) and questioning the ‘One China’ policy. He later had to publicly eat those words. Like he found out by his insistence on insulting leaders of other countries, if you don’t have friends, the world can be a lonely place.
Trump has shown over and over he doesn’t really understand the power of the presidency, or of the courts, or how congress works. Business executive that he is, he expects to be able to tell his minions to do something and then they will scurry away to do it; only daring to come back into his presence with the deal in hand, ready for him to sign. He may be used to making dubious international deals (with the Russians to sell them condos) but now he has to deal with congress and the expectations of the American people which he raised during the campaign. Many of his supporters are standing by him, but how long before he makes a mistake big enough not only to lose their allegiance, but possibly endanger the country as well?