The president’s two strongest instincts stand pitted against each other: his need for attention and his need to punish enemies.
Tweets can be career-enders for the twits who post them. Remember the Taco Bell employee from 2012, who didn’t reckon it a firing offense to tweet video of himself peeing onto a sumptuous heap of Nachos BellGrande. To no one’s surprise but his own, he reckoned wrong.
I’ve often wondered whether President Donald Trump, with his impulsive, counterproductive, inadvertently self-revealing tweets, could ever meet the same fate. The question was raised anew (by me) this week. It was a week shortened by the holiday, and Trump made fewer public statements than he does in a normal week. And so, away from the gaze of his admirers and the prying eyes of the press, he tweeted instead.
Seeing Trump exclusively through the prism of Twitter gives an incomplete picture, of course. It is best to take him in his totality as a public figure, not only on social media but also in the zig and zag of his press briefings, in his Oval Office Q&As, in the set-piece speeches with their mash-ups of scripted rhetoric and chaotic improvisation, in the answers shouted above the roar of Marine One. Yet Twitter isolates parts of his public approach to the world and throws them into sharp relief—useful to anyone more interested in understanding him than in hating or venerating him, if any such people are left after the last four years. (Anyone? Anyone?)