Despite his hyperactivity on Twitter, Donald Trump is not a technological early adopter. In fact, there’s little evidence that he’s a regular user of computers. So you could normally forgive him for lacking some knowledge around the edges of tech policy.
But when asked about cybersecurity and the threat of state-sponsored hackers at tonight’s debate with Hillary Clinton, Trump went off the rails with an answer that swerved from 400-pound hackers to his 10-year-old son Barron’s love of computers, but never actually came close to making sense.
Trump’s response was so incoherent—so utterly disconnected from anything resembling a normal, logical response to a straightforward question about a major national security issue—that it’s almost hard to convey in a paraphrase. You just have to see it and read it for yourself.
“Our next segment is called securing America. We want to start with a 21st century war happening every day in this country, our institutions are under cyber attack, and our secrets are being stolen. So my question is who’s behind it and how do we fight it?”
“I do want to say that I was just endorsed and more are coming next week, it will be over 200 admirals. Many of them are here, admirals and generals endorsed me to lead this country. That just happened. And many more are coming. And I’m very proud of it. In addition, I was just endorsed by ICE. So when Secretary Clinton talks about…I’ll take the admirals and generals any day over the political hacks.
Look at the mess that we’re in. Look at the mess that we’re in.
As far as the cyber, I agree to parts of what Secretary Clinton said, we should be better than anybody else, and perhaps we’re not. I don’t know if we know it was Russia who broke into the DNC. She’s saying Russia, Russia, Russia. Maybe it was. It could also be China, it could be someone sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds.
You don’t know who broke into DNC, but what did we learn? We learn that Bernie Sanders was taken advantage of by your people. By Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
Look what happened to her. But Bernie Sanders was taken advantage of. Now, whether that was Russia, whether that was China, whether it was another country, we don’t know, because the truth is, under President Obama we’ve lost control of things that we used to have control over. We came in with an internet, we came up with the internet.
And I think Secretary Clinton and myself would agree very much, when you look at what ISIS is doing with the internet, they’re beating us at our own game. ISIS. So we have to get very, very tough on cyber and cyber warfare. It is a, it is a huge problem.
I have a son. He’s 10 years old. He has computers. He is so good with these computers, it’s unbelievable. The security aspect of cyber is very, very tough. And maybe it’s hardly do-able. But I will say, we are not doing the job we should be doing, but that’s true throughout our whole governmental society. We have so many things that we have to do better, Lester and certainly cyber is one of them.”
Mr. Trump: we award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.
(transcript via Vox)