He’s done it again. Our Tweeter-in-Chief has taken to the 140-character social media platform to express his displeasure of his enemy-du-jour and to throw his support behind whomever or whatever has struck his fancy.
On Monday, less than two weeks before taking command of the already greatest country in the world, Donald Trump went on the offensive when he called actress Meryl Streep a “Hillary flunky who lost big.” Streep, during her acceptance speech of the Golden Globes’ Cecil B. DeMille Award on Sunday night, called out Trump for bullying and humiliating others, specifically for mocking a New York Times reporter who has a condition that affects his joints.
“And this instinct to humiliate, when it’s modeled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody’s life, because it kind of gives permission for other people to do the same thing,” the actress said.
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Before attacking Streep, Trump wielded his @realDonaldTrump handle to call New York Sen. Chuck Schumer “the head clown” — his way of attacking Democrats for their support of Obamacare — and to celebrate Jackie Evancho, whose album sales he says have skyrocketed after agreeing to perform at his inauguration.
Oh, and he also indirectly attacked me, a longtime member of “the dishonest media.”
All this before 8:30 a.m. Talk about early morning exercise.
I’m amazed by our president-elect’s thoughtfulness and thoroughness, his command of the issues, his restraint and eloquent words. Never before have such phrases as “believe me” or “total disaster” been imbued with so much depth. So much feeling.
How does he do it? Where does he find the time to fire off all these tweets and piss off so many people? I want whatever brand of coffee Trump’s staff is brewing. Me, I’m having a difficult time tweeting, Facebooking, Instagramming — the new requirements of my job — while also downing a cuppa and trying to eat a healthy breakfast.
Trump’s genius use of Twitter is the perfect example of how social media platforms have done more than connect far-flung acquaintances. They’ve also divided us and amplified our basest instincts. They’ve become a stage for the world’s growing number of narcissists, some of them scarily evil.
Case in point: On Wednesday, Chicago police arrested two men and two women in connection with the beating and racial taunting of a disabled 18-year-old, a gruesome incident that was streamed on Facebook Live. (Maybe the thugs didn’t know how to use Twitter’s Periscope.)
In comparison, Trump’s insults on Twitter feel shallow and unimaginative. At least he’s not linking to some video of him (or someone else) doing something dastardly. He seems content enough with name-calling and fact-twisting.
But let’s give credit where credit is due — Trump appears to be getting occasional results. Consider how he’s kept businesses and our dubious allies on the defensive. Ford canceled plans to open a new plant in Mexico and United Technologies (Carrier) decided to halt moving manufacturing jobs from Indiana. China is scratching its head and he called it correctly when he labeled the late Fidel Castro “a brutal dictator who oppressed his own people for nearly six decades.”
Even the other great disruptor, Sen. Bernie Sanders, acknowledged his opponent’s tweeting prowess when he printed out a very large poster of a Trump tweet promising not to cut certain social services programs.
On the other hand, Trump’s tweet about the Chevy Cruze being produced in Mexico was misleading and his infatuation with Russia’s Vladimir Putin is, to put it mildly, distressing. Policy shouldn’t be crafted on the Twitterverse. The world is far too complicated, global alliances too problematic. That said, we best prepare ourselves for this scary new world where complex ideas are being simplified into naïve summaries — words that chill me even as I write them. The only winner here is Twitter. It must love Trump and the publicity he generates. Hardly a day goes by without traditional media referring to something Trump has posted.
Some think Trump will curtail his prolific tweeting because he told “60 Minutes” that he would be more “restrained” after the election. Well, that’s not going to happen. How else can he avoid pesky reporters and still get his message across? Where else can he — and others, because Trump is hardly alone — perpetuate lies and half-truths without the usual fact-checking?