EDITORIAL: Trump's tweets: From benign to dangerous
It seems beyond obvious, but in the wake of the latest social media dustup between President Donald Trump and a high-ranking senator in his own party, it bears repeating: The adults in the White House need to take away the president’s Twitter account.
Other than fortifying the tweeter-in-chief’s unendingly fragile ego, Trump’s Twitter musings serve no palpable purpose. Indeed, they are more often counterproductive.
Whether the policy is foreign or domestic, the politician is Democratic or Republican, or the issue is mundane or momentous, the president is reliably consistent: spiteful, dishonest, irresponsible and self-congratulatory.
Consider a cross-section from just this past weekend:
- Most seriously, Trump continues to air vague threats regarding North Korea. Claiming in a tweet that 25 years of negotiations have failed, he added, ominously, “Only one thing will work!” This on top of his similarly opaque and irresponsible comment last week, while surrounded by military advisors, that the meeting was “the calm before the storm.” Presidents are supposed to calm nations in times of crisis, not stoke the flames of crisis to rattle nations.
- He continues to ignore the scope of aid required in Puerto Rico in the wake of devastating Hurricane Maria, tweeting, “Nobody could have done what I’ve done for #PuertoRico with such little appreciation. So much work!” Poor president! So unappreciated! And to think, following the Sept. 20 landfall of the hurricane in Puerto Rico, Trump spent only 10 out of the next 19 days at one of his private golf properties. So much work!
- And he renewed an ongoing feud with the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Corker of Tennessee. “Senator Bob Corker ‘begged’ me to endorse him for re-election in Tennessee. I said ‘NO’ and he dropped out (said he could not win without my endorsement),” the president felt necessary to share with his 40.2 million followers.
In fact, Corker and his office insisted, it was Trump who asked the senator to reconsider his decision not run again in 2018, promising his endorsement.
“I don’t know why the president tweets out things that are not true,” Corker said later in an interview with the New York Times. “You know he does it, everyone knows he does it, but he does.”
Trump’s supporters would do well to reflect on that statement. How does the president continue to get away with bald-faced falsehoods?
It should no longer enough to support a president because he is ostensibly “sticking it to the system,” or “draining the swamp” (he’s not; his billionaire Cabinet members are the subject of at least five investigations regarding pricey, private air travel). At some point, even Trump’s fiercest defenders should want to see results and, nine months into this administration, there have been none.
Trump’s arm’s-length relationship with the truth is one reason for this; he cannot be taken at his word because his word often cannot be taken seriously.
Trump’s indiscriminate use of Twitter is another. Time and again he has reversed legislative progress, undermined his own administration officials, or alienated potential legislative allies, all in the name of 140-character nuggets of self-aggrandizement.
So it is surprising that, for the benefit of the administration, its agenda and party unity, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly or some other influential insider hasn’t yet padlocked the president’s Twitter account. Is there such a thing as a Twittervention?
Freed from the political exigency of reelection, Corker gave as good as he got last weekend, tweeting in response to Trump’s digs that it was sad that “the White House has become an adult daycare center” and “Someone obviously missed their shift this morning.”
But there is far more at stake than a game of political one-upmanship. There is the question of whether Trump’s Twitter messages reflect a president who is erratic, unstable and, as Corker and other Republicans worry in private, according the Times, “reckless enough to stumble the country into a nuclear war.”
Never mind starting a war within his own party, responsible Republicans fear Trump's impulsive, childish messages have the potential to start a war outright.
So never mind benefiting the administration, its agenda and party unity, for the good of the free world, pull the plug on @realDonaldTrump.