“Donald Trump is the only person who can talk about a cognitive test but make me feel that I have brain damage,” said Trevor Noah on Thursday’s Daily Show, after yet another news appearance, this time with the Fox News anchor Dr Mark Siegel, in which the president bragged about his results from a cognitive assessment. “He’s gone from bragging about his historic electoral college win to boasting that he can solve the puzzle in a happy meal?”
Person. Woman. Man. Camera. TV. The truth behind Trump’s “intelligence test”: pic.twitter.com/p9urfIHc5S— The Daily Show (@TheDailyShow) July 24, 2020
It might be the case, Noah added, that “obsessing over a dementia test that you took over two years ago is the real dementia test”.
What makes the whole episode even stranger, he continued, is that the neurologist who created the test told the Washington Post that “it’s not meant to measure IQ or intellectual skill in any way.”
Performing well on the test merely rules out the person for conditions of cognitive impairment such as Alzheimer’s, stroke or multiple sclerosis. “So you see,” said Noah, “acing this test does not make Trump a genius. It just makes him a guy who’s desperate for an accomplishment.”
The timing of Trump’s obsession with the cognitive test “couldn’t be any bleaker”, said Seth Meyers on Late Night, “because the media just spent a full news cycle falling for the same ruse they’ve consistently been suckered into for the last five years.”
That ruse would be Trump’s capability to “shift tone” into seriousness, as was attempted with his return to the White House coronavirus briefing on Tuesday.
“I use the word ‘ruse’ lightly here,” Meyers continued. “Normally a ruse would be like an international terrorist mastermind constructing an elaborate plot to lure James Bond into his volcano lair while he prepares to attack the world’s oil reserves with a giant laser. In Trump’s case, his team just gets him to read a prepared statement by slipping a valium into his Big Mac the way you’d hide your dog’s arthritis pills in his kibble.”
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Trump announced plans to send more military secret police “into cities that don’t want them, don’t need them and are actively trying to stop them,” said Meyers. Trump described federal agents as prepared to enter Chicago “full blast” and “ready, willing and able to go in there with great force”.
“Go in full blast?” said an incredulous Meyers. “He’s talking about American cities as if he’s invading them. ‘Full blast’ sounds like a shit action movie an aspiring screenwriter would be typing up at a Starbucks.”
As for the pandemic, Trump said in his “somber” briefing on Tuesday that the administration was “in the process of developing a strategy that’s going to be very, very powerful”.
“You’re developing a strategy now?” Meyers retorted. “What’s the rush, my man, it’s only been six months? What have you been doing this whole time, studying up for that cognitive test?”
And on The Late Show, Stephen Colbert recapped Trump’s weeks-long fixation with a cognitive test. “Just to remind you, it’s not a hard test,” said Colbert, as it includes basic identification questions of animals such as an elephant or snake. On Fox News, Trump attempted to explain the memorization portions of the test, and repeatedly listed objects in front of him: “Person, woman, man, camera, TV.’
“Forget ‘make America great again,’” said Colbert. “I think it’s time for a new hat.”
Trump claimed on Fox that upon hearing his answers, doctors remarked: “That’s amazing, how did you do that?” But Colbert was skeptical. “I’m gonna guess the doctors did not say that,” he said, noting that this test does not assess intelligence. A perfect score merely indicates, to quote the Washington Post, that the test-taker “probably does not have a cognitive impairment”.
“I’m gonna need something stronger than ‘probably’ for the person who has the nuclear codes,” said Colbert.