He doth protest too much. When David Cameron accused the Donald of being a number of unappealing things,"He is divisive. He is stupid and he is wrong," the Donald shrugged off all the other adjectives but he objected: "I am not stupid." At stupid, he draws the line. "I'm not stupid, okay?"
It's remarkable how often the Donald defends his own intelligence by simply declaring how smart he is, by saying he went to an Ivy League school (Penn), one of the best, by saying how smart and rich he is, as if those two things are mutually validating, by simply declaring he is brilliant. "I use all the best words." Well, that proves his case, right there. Anyone smart enough to use the best words cannot be stupid, ipso facto.
On some level, you have to believe, he knows the sad truth. He has had enough experience to inform himself of his own intellectual limitations.
He can see the look in the eye of his interlocutor, as he answers a question inadequately or...stupidly. He knows, on some level, he hasn't got it.
This is one of those profoundly unsettling experiences in life: coming to grips with your own limitations. Hopefully, you have enough strengths you can say, "Well, I may not be the smartest person in the world, but..."
I particularly liked the response of a real estate developer I was talking with as we sat together in a steaming, stinking gymnasium during a lull in a wrestling tournament our sons were doing. This man was very rich, not Trump rich, but rich enough, probably the richest man in the gym. "I never was very good in school. Didn't get very far in math. But I sure learned how to add and subtract. Turned out in business, that's all you need."
He took satisfaction in knowing he didn't need to be an "A" student in calculus, and he didn't need to have high SAT scores and his lack of Ivy League credentials didn't matter in the testosterone fueled world of constructing suburban malls, which is where he made his money. He had enough intelligence to find his niche and exploit it.
So many people from the Ivy League have certified intelligence but never manage to find a niche.
Reading about the genius of birds, about animal intelligence, I am now realizing just how varied this thing we call "intelligence" really is.
Mr. Trump has some sort of intelligence, just not the kind he envies. He is intelligent enough to know, deep down, how very limited his capacities are. He may have a "genius" for marketing or for sensing what an audience wants, but those types of intelligence, as useful as they may be in winning the Presidency, would not likely be sufficient to perform well in that Office. His rambling riffs on the world are entertaining, the way, say, Louis C. K. is amusing, but when you ask him whether he is going to send troops to Syria or Libya or whether he will nominate Rush Limbaugh to the Supreme Court, you need better answers than, "I know the guy. I like him."
Apes, it turns out, have all sorts of intelligence unrecognized by human beings. When asked to perform certain tasks, like identifying objects hidden from view by touch, they perform very well, but after a few trials, they do not. Turns out, they bore easily and simply stop trying.
This may be the best we can say for Mr. Trump. He bores easily and simply stops trying. But then, the comparison of the intelligence of the Donald to that of the chimpanzee may be an invidious comparison, insulting to the chimpanzee.