Sign everything. Read nothing.

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Donald Trump has proven that he knows how to sign stuff. In his first two weeks in office, he has made a big show of signing—in kindergarten-show-and-tell style—multiple executive actions and orders. The question is: Does he read what he is signing, and does he understand what the effects of these executive orders are? We have all observed the obvious answer to that question, as he demonstrates, again and again, a frightening inability to to articulate the content of the orders. Actually, it appears that he has spent more time crafting his bold, angular signature than he has spent reading what he is signing.

Case in point: Trump is now complaining that he wasn’t briefed on the EO that elevated Steve Bannon to a place on the powerful National Security Council. The New York Times reports:

Mr. Bannon remains the president’s dominant adviser, despite Mr. Trump’s anger that he was not fully briefed on the details of the executive order…a greater frustration to the president than the fallout from the travel ban.  Many interpreted that to mean that Bannon made himself a regular on the NSC Principals Committee, and Trump didn’t realize it until after he’d signed the executive order.

This is a terrifying scenario, for obvious reasons.

Even Trump may be coming to this conclusion. It’s more likely, though, that he’s less concerned about the dangers of having white supremacist wrecking ball Steve Bannon on the NSC, and more upset that he, himself, is not fully in charge. So now, Trump has called on his chief of staff, Reince Preibus

to implement a more orderly process for executive orders — including having the president looped in much earlier in the process.

They’re not “looping the president in?” That says a lot about their view of him as an uninformed puppet, whose input has little to no value in formulating policy.

Naturally, Trump is blaming everyone but himself. If he would simply read what he is about to sign, he might get an inkling of what’s on the page. But knowing things is not his priority. Saying things [and tweeting them] is. And Trump apparently doesn’t read. He gets his information from tv. Maybe his aides should have someone at Fox News read the executive orders on the air, and perhaps even explain, in language understandable to a fifth grader, what they’re about. [Or maybe not: As we have learned in the case of the Steve Bannon NSC fiasco, there are some things they just don’t want Trump to know.]

I’ve said this before, but the scenario in which Bannon [or Preibus] places a pen in Trump’s hand and tells him just to sign, not read, reminds me of this scene from Mel Brooks’ “Blazing Saddles.” We are watching our system crumble under the faux leadership of a president who has no idea of what he’s doing, saying or signing, and who is being cynically manipulated by people with very dangerous ideas.

Gloria Shur Bilchik Gloria Shur Bilchik (654 Posts)

Gloria Shur Bilchik is a freelance writer and community volunteer in St. Louis, Missouri. She is the editor of Occasional Planet. She views the preservation of democratic values and progressive programs as vital to making the US a humane, livable place for her children and grandchildren.


  • Stacy Mergenthal

    When Trump tweets or speaks, I’m always under the impression that his entire persona is an act. I imagine him off-camera as someone who doesn’t really care about life outside his little bubble and therefore doesn’t know a lot about life outside his little bubble. His worldview is devoid of anything meaningful. And that is how he governs: like he doesn’t care and is unaware of the world at large. He is the perfect puppet president.