There are some headlines in the Trump Era that just perfectly capture the times we live in. "President Challenges Own Secretary of State to IQ Test" is certainly the kind of thing you wouldn't see on the front page of newspapers in any other time, in any other place but America in 2017. Because according to Forbes, which put together a cover story on Donald Trump this week, this is what you can expect to discuss with the President of the United States while trundling the halls of the West Wing:
He counterpunches, in this case firing a shot at Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who reportedly called his boss a moron: "I think it's fake news, but if he did that, I guess we'll have to compare IQ tests. And I can tell you who is going to win."
"I guess we'll have to compare IQ tests. And I can tell you who is going to win."
For the sake of clarity, we might point out that further reporting indicated the president's Secretary of State called him a "fucking moron." This is what you might call a breakdown of their working relationship. It hasn't exactly come out of nowhere, in fairness. It was just last week that Tillerson was working behind the scenes to try to talk North Korean officials off the ledge as we and the rogue state seemed to be hurtling towards nuclear war. The president's response was to get on Twitter and tell him not to bother trying to avoid nuclear war. Surely that did wonders for the negotiations. I'm old enough to remember when trying to avoid nuclear war was something we could all get behind.
That was before we elected President Business Deals, an adult man who is very strong and smart and ready to do all the presidenting. Just look at this little detail that preceded the president's IQ test challenge in the Forbes write-up:
He boasts, with a dose of hyperbole that any student of FDR or even Barack Obama could undercut: "I've had just about the most legislation passed of any president, in a nine-month period, that's ever served. We had over 50 bills passed. I'm not talking about executive orders only, which are very important. I'm talking about bills."
The president has been repeating this line in various forms for months. That doesn't mean it's ever been entirely true. When he said it in July, he first claimed he'd signed more legislation than any other president in his first six months except FDR, who "had a major Depression to handle." Then he abandoned even that caveat and crowned himself the greatest signer of bills this country has ever known. This had no basis in reality.
When it reappeared in August, Trump said he'd signed more than 50 bills, which was true—he'd signed 53. But just two created new policy. Many of the rest were under the Congressional Review Act, which requires a simple majority of Congress to erase executive branch regulations from the last six months of the previous president's term. According to CNN, some of the bills concerned government funding or operations, some changed existing legislation, and others "had to do with designating something or working to create a new initiative." Trump has signed no major pieces of legislation, as Republicans failed to complete their seven-year performance art piece, Repeal and Replace Obamacare, though we would be remiss not to mention that his cabinet is running wild behind the scenes.
It's not exactly FDR's First 100 Days. It's not exactly Barack Obama's first few months in office. But it is a fever dream from, in Forbes' words, "Inside Trump's Head."