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Port: I'm pretty sure we elected Zaphod Beeblebrox as President

columnist Rob Port

Zaphod Beeblebrox is a character from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy stories by Douglas Adams (which you should read if you haven't).

He was, for at least a brief time in the stories, the Galactic President.

He's also a hedonist. He's a careless and irresponsible leader. He consistently displays an insensitivity to those around him. He is beholden of a solipsistic level of narcissism.

In other words, he's pretty much Donald Trump.

Don't believe me? Consider this description of Beeblebrox from the book:

"One of the major difficulties Trillian experienced in her relationship with Zaphod was learning to distinguish between him pretending to be stupid just to get people off their guard, pretending to be stupid because he couldn't be bothered to think and wanted someone else to do it for him, pretending to be outrageously stupid to hide the fact that he actually didn't understand what was going on, and really being genuinely stupid."

Sound familiar?

With Trump it's hard to tell if he's extremely competent, playing some politically-themed game of three-dimensional chess the rest of us don't understand, or if he's just an imbecile careening from one blow-hard Twitter talking point to another.

Evidence in favor of the former is the fact that the man shocked the world by first winning the GOP nomination and then the national election. He's also gone on to preside over an impressive roll back of Obama-era policies which the economy and labor markets are already responding to.

Evidence for the latter lays with the fact that his administration has been plagued by a battery of scandals, and undermined by incessant leaks and in-fighting caused in no small part by members of the Trump administration who are Obama-era holdovers filling positions the President wasn't ready to fill himself.

Is Trump winning?

Is he losing?

Is he managing to do both at the same time?

Which of those you choose may hinge on what you think Trump's goals are.

Trump was set to the White House by a vast swath of the American electorate fed up with the status quo in Washington D.C. Nobody believes any politician any more when they say they'll change things. That they'll shake things up.

Trump voters cast their ballots for a wrecking ball. To the extent that our President is an agent for chaos, they're getting what they voted for.

The way things are going now, Trump may not survive his first term in office, let alone re-election. And his impact on down-ballot Republican races has yet to be measured in any meaningful way.

Trump could be a disaster for the GOP.

Of course, it's equally possible that he could be a major success.

That's the paradox of Trump. He can be both smart and stupid, both successful and a failure, at the same time.

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