People have made the joke time and again, but Oct. 10 marks perhaps the first time the president has made such a clear suggestion that the presidency be a full-on reality show. In an interview with Forbes published on Tuesday morning, President Donald Trump challenged Rex Tillerson to compare IQ tests after a perceived sleight against his intelligence. The president was responding to a report that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had called Trump a "moron," according to NBC.
In the Forbes interview, Trump responded to the the Tillerson point, saying,
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.
This is the latest high-stress outburst from the president in what is a tense and fragile relationship between the two men. Trump recently publicly undercut Tillerson on North Korea, despite his focus on trying to find a diplomatic path to deescalate the nuclear crisis.
Trump has many times emerged on the other side of Tillerson's foreign policy issues, such as Saudi Arabia and Iran, blindsiding the secretary and putting him in a tight spot. Things escalated to the point where it was rumored that Tillerson would resign his post, a claim which he later denied.
This is hardly the first time people have joked about the nation's highest office being treated like a season of The Apprentice. Trump himself has fueled the fire by routinely discussing "ratings" in any way and at any opportunity possible. This obsession hasn't gone unnoticed, and while a TV-fame past is not unique to the president even in Washington, Trump has drawn concern and scorn in a way that few if any other celebrities-turned-politicians have.
Unsurprisingly, social media users responded with an array of reactions to the president's tweet. Some made rib-poking comments, laughing at the incredulity of what amounts to an old-school duel, while others seemed genuinely surprised.
Users also seemed to express worry that the nation's leader would suggest this. It's understandable, really; it's not a comforting idea that the president could be so hostile towards even rumored criticism that he would call for a public display of man-versus-man competition.
What would a comparison like this even accomplish? Should we read it as a basic (if perhaps childlish) competitive instinct, not unlike another well-known male comparison? Or is the end goal to legitimize and validate the president and do the opposite for Tillerson and his views? (Anybody have a theory on this?)
As some users point out, there's not exactly a precedent for our past POTUSes doing this.
And let's be clear: wanting to compare anything reflects more on the suggester than it does on the potential competitor.
More hilariously, lots of Twitter users are eager for the proposition to come to pass. Many can't wait to see the results of such a comparison.
Even without the promise of a face-off, people joked about how much they'd like to see Trump take an IQ test.
One user even suggested raising the stakes of the game. If you're going to make a game out of respected office, why not go all out, right?
Another user also pointed out the logic behind Trump's comment.
Back in October, when the reported "moron" comment first came to light, users began tweeting the hashtags #ImpeachTheMoron and #MoronTrump, among others. The hashtags continued anew after Tuesday's comments on Tillerson.
Trump is particularly vulnerable to a wave of ridicule over this comment. As president, he's been criticized numerous times by a growing body of mental health professionals and politicians concerned about his fitness for office. Some have called for invoking the 25th Amendment, which would remove a president from office in the event that they are compromised, mentally, physically, or otherwise, from adequately performing the tasks of the office. Multiple members of Congress have taken or plan to explore steps to address the question of his mental health and fitness.
Certainly the most hilarious exam of them all would be the one Trump imposes on himself.