Ben Shapiro, famously described by the New York Times as “the cool kid’s philosopher, dissecting arguments with a lawyer’s skill and references to Aristotle,” has spent the Trump era trying to reconcile his personal hatred for Trump with ultimate support for the Republican position. The solution to his dilemma is for Shapiro to argue that Trump is literally too stupid to tell his underlings that he won’t give Ukraine the meeting and the aid it wants unless it investigates his enemies.
Shapiro elucidated this theory a month ago. Shapiro’s argument was to describe the plan of sending Rudy Giuliani to tell Ukrainians he wanted the investigations as if it was highly intricate and complex; it’s actually not a complex plan at all. Shapiro’s method of making it sound complex was to change his voice to make it sound intricate:
“Trump doesn’t have the requisite intent for nearly anything,” Shapiro explained — though, hastily recognizing that he had perhaps gone too far in dismissing a candidate he plans to endorse, added the caveat that Trump “does wonderful things as president” and would probably get Shapiro’s vote.
Shapiro returns to this knock-down defense again today:
“I don’t see objectively that Trump has had the level of intent necessary to do anything,” Shapiro argues. “I don’t think he’s had the level of intent necessary to eat a hamburger. I think it’s half-accident when he eats a hamburger.”
I yield to almost no one in my low estimation of Trump’s mental aptitude. But eating a hamburger is clearly well within his capabilities. Trump has consumed many hamburgers, almost certainly on purpose, and if he decides he wants to eat another, it is definitely within his capability to execute such a plan successfully.
A person can have little or no capacity for abstract reasoning or self-reflection and still have the ability to do something like punish a counterparty to make them give you want you want. Trump does not have to be smart to binge-watch Fox News and believe its claims that Ukraine framed Russia for the 2016 email hack or that Joe Biden engaged in corrupt dealings there. That makes Trump dumb. And he doesn’t have to be smart to find some loyalist to tell Ukrainians he won’t give them what they want unless they announce investigations of those enemies. The mob is filled with dumb guys who come up with plots more complicated than that.
Meanwhile, Shapiro is prepared to argue — with a lawyer’s skill, per the newspaper of record — in favor of entrusting the presidency for another four years to a man he claims lacks the mental power to eat a hamburger.