President Donald Trump, still reeling from allegedly being called a "moron" by his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, is challenging Tillerson to an IQ test showdown.
It was revealed by NBC News last week that Tillerson, frustrated with Trump’s inability to deal in diplomatic matters with a more traditional mindset, reportedly called the president a “moron” after a meeting on national security matters in July. It was also rumored that Tillerson was considering resigning from his position.
The secretary of state ended up holding a press conference explaining that he has never considered leaving his position in the Trump White House. Yet when asked directly whether he called Trump a “moron” or not, Tillerson wouldn’t give a “no” answer.
Trump was reportedly furious about the revelation, fuming to aides for hours after the story broke, according to sources close to the president. He was also upset that Tillerson didn’t categorically deny the “moron” statement. In interviews with the president since then, however, he has tried to keep a cooler demeanor — although he couldn’t resist challenging Tillerson.
“I think it's fake news,” Trump said in an interview with Forbes, “but if he did [say] that, I guess we'll have to compare IQ tests. And I can tell you who is going to win.”
That hardly sounds like a vote of confidence from Trump to his secretary of state. If anything, it sounds as if Trump is trying to put Tillerson in his place — saying publicly that he doesn’t believe the story, but sending a clear message to Tillerson that he’s the boss, and you shouldn’t mess with Trump.
Trump is not shy to brag about his supposedly “high” IQ score. He has tweeted for many years that it’s higher than whoever he’s arguing with at the moment — including generic “losers and haters,” like he did in 2013.
Sorry losers and haters, but my I.Q. is one of the highest -and you all know it! Please don't feel so stupid or insecure,it's not your fault— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 9, 2013
Yet Trump has never shown any evidence that his IQ score is substantially higher than anyone else’s. If anything, the evidence points the other way; linguists have, in the past, demonstrated that the president speaks below a sixth-grade level.
Trump’s challenge to Tillerson sounds like a bully on the playground trying to assert himself against the smarter kid in class who made him look bad. His desperation is transparent to anyone on the outside looking in.
It bodes well for Trump to act this way because he is trying to assure his hardline conservative base that he’s a strong leader. Unfortunately for the rest of the nation, this petty behavior is what we have to look forward to over the next three years or so.
Banner and thumbnail image via Kevin Lamarque/Reuters