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Presidential Incompetence

In the wake of the G-7 meeting in Quebec, the Nato meeting in Belgium, the rudeness in Britain, and the abasement to Putin in Helsinki, it is increasingly obvious the leader of the US is incompetent.The incompetence seems to extend to basic mental functioning. It appears he fails to make fundamental distinctions. And if you can believe his excuse for one of his statements supporting Putin, he has such trouble expressing himself that he is able to say the opposite of what he means due to getting confused by trying to construct a double negative.

Senator John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, concluded that Mr. Trump was unable to distinguish between the fact that Russia had interfered in the election and the accusation — as yet unproven — that the Trump campaign had colluded with Russia.
“In the president’s mind, I think he’s conflating different things — the meddling and the collusion allegations for which there does not appear to be any evidence,” Mr. Cornyn said.

- Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Nicholas Fandos and Thomas Kaplan, Republicans Rebuke Trump for Siding With Putin as Democrats Demand Action, NYT, July 16, 2018


Mr. Trump said the misunderstanding arose from his use of a “double negative.”

“The sentence should have been ‘I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be Russia,’ sort of a double negative,” he said. “So you can put that in and I think that probably clarifies things pretty good by itself. I have on numerous occasions noted our intelligence findings that Russians attempted to interfere in our elections.” ...
“My people came to me, Dan Coats came to me and some others, they said they think it’s Russia,” Mr. Trump said, referring to the director of national intelligence, Dan Coats. “I have President Putin; he just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be.”
On Tuesday, Mr. Trump said, “In a key sentence in my remarks, I said the word ‘would’ instead of ‘wouldn’t.’”
- Mark Landler and Maggie Haberman, Trump Now Says He Accepts U.S. Intelligence Reports on Russian Election Meddling, NYT, July 17, 2018



On the morning of Oct. 6, 1973, taking advantage of Yom Kippur, Egypt and Syria began a coordinated assault on Israel in a bid to retake the territories lost in the Arab-Israeli War six years earlier. Bolstered by a Soviet airlift, the Egyptians and the Syrians made early gains before Israel reclaimed the initiative on the battlefield. Ignoring a United Nations Security Council call for a cease-fire, the Israelis pressed on.
Two weeks later in Washington, while the war continued, President Richard Nixon forced out his attorney general and deputy attorney general, then fired the special prosecutor Archibald Cox. This Saturday Night Massacre unleashed a political firestorm and Mr. Nixon, bending in the face of all the fury, sought solace in drink.
Late in the evening of Oct. 24, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger received an alarming letter from the Soviet general secretary, Leonid Brezhnev, addressed to the president. The situation in the Middle East had reached a dangerous point, Mr. Brezhnev told Mr. Nixon. Moscow and Washington had to act jointly to rein in the Israelis. And if the Americans demurred, the Soviets might act unilaterally and send in troops.
When Mr. Brezhnev’s message arrived, Mr. Nixon was reported to be indisposed; Mr. Kissinger and the White House chief of staff, Alexander Haig, decided not to wake him up. Instead, Mr. Kissinger called together a meeting of principals to consider America’s response. They moved the nuclear alert level to Defcon 3, the highest since the Cuban missile crisis. ...
Since the outbreak of the fighting, Mr. Brezhnev often worked virtually around the clock, holding Politburo meetings during the day, receiving delegations at night and speaking to Cairo on the phone in between. On Oct. 22, he went to his favorite hunting lodge, Zavidovo, to recuperate. But according to his secretaries he stayed up at night, even calling his Kremlin office at 2 a.m. It was at Zavidovo that Mr. Brezhnev composed his letter to Mr. Nixon, and also his request to the Politburo, calling for tougher measures.
The letter was sent. But the tougher measures were quietly torpedoed. Someone in the Soviet leadership realized that the general secretary was going off the rails. ...
Mr. Andropov knew what Mr. Kissinger did not: Mr. Brezhnev had developed an addiction to sleeping pills that, combined with alcohol, was undermining his ability to think straight. Mr. Andropov learned of the addiction weeks before the war in the Middle East but refused to intervene. Mr. Brezhnev’s erratic behavior during the war convinced Mr. Andropov of the dangers of inaction. Some of the details remain murky but Mr. Andropov and possibly other senior leaders evidently played a quiet role in keeping their country’s leader from sleepwalking into a world war.
- Sergey Radchenko, Stumbling Toward Armageddon, NYT, Oct. 9, 2018




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