Opinion

Who cares about Trump's tweets?

Trump's presidency is a failure. His inane conduct on Twitter has nothing to do with it.

The only thing worse than President Trump's Twitter account is having to read other people's handwringing, schoolmarmish, performatively outraged tweets about Trump's Twitter account.

If the preponderance of indignant tweets and breathless headlines are any indication, the most important thing that has happened in the last week or so, the most newsworthy event on our vast planet of 7.5 billion souls, is that our incompetent, philandering, thrice-married president mocked and insulted MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski on Twitter. Or perhaps that he tweeted a dumb video of him pummeling a CNN logo.

The capacity that millions of my fellow citizens seem to possess for feeling outraged by such enormities is as baffling to me as it is distressing.

(By the way, the Iraqi army just won the battle for Mosul.)

None of this is to excuse what Trump tweeted about Brzezinski. Insulting a woman's intellect and appearance — especially in a public and taunting way, and when you yourself wield more power than literally anyone who has ever lived — is obviously not a good look for anyone, let alone America's president. Still: We make far, far, far too much of Trump's tweets. And the liberal contention that anyone who tweets like him couldn't possibly be any good at anything is utter nonsense.

I don't think Trump is doing a good job. But it's not because he thumbs out idiotic tweets or is publicly rude to journalists, who should learn to stop treating their jobs as some kind of creative priesthood and accept that they are eminently mockable.

But no; according to the dilettantish media, what it means to be a good and effective public servant is to adhere to a set of loosely defined arbitrary procedural norms involving things like pretending to like The Washington Post or having a normie Twitter account or mouthing along with corporate-sponsored #woke talking points at the appropriate point in the yearly marketing cycle that begins with the Super Bowl and ends with our annual oblations to the Santa Cult.

I wish I could buy into the argument that Trump's penchant for the civic equivalent of Reddit flame wars is worth the endless amount of attention given to it because it speaks to his weaknesses as a leader. It is not untrue that a man touchy enough to care what the hosts of a television program he claims to neither like nor watch say about him is probably going to have a less than steady hand on the presidential tiller. It would be easier to take these concerns at face value if they were not expressed so often by people also given to voicing the most fawning, gag-inducing praise for the hip social media prowess and all-around memeability of certain bland liberal politicians. If you're writing gushing stories about what was inscribed on the cute socks that Justin Trudeau — a man who actually brags about how ruthless his pursuit of free trade is — wore to Toronto's Pride Parade, forgive me for not thinking that your online reactions to the other team reflect the sober hard-headed realism with which you approach political questions.

But the worst thing about having a news cycle devoted to micro-analyses of his Twitter blowouts, with follow-up stories and reaction GIFs and high-five emojis and ostentatious displays of faux-offense on the behalf of strangers, is that it distracts us from the actual things that actually make Trump a terrible president.

Remember that this is a man who campaigned on his ability to save good-paying American jobs and create new ones, to cure us of our habit of Middle Eastern adventurism, to shore up rather than undermine the safety net. As I write this, hundreds of employees of Carrier, the same employees of whom Trump had proclaimed himself the glorious savior and protector, are set to lose their jobs to outsourcing. The White House is threatening to go to war with Bashar al-Assad in Syria, while the leaders of the president's party in Congress are trying to make up their minds whether poor people deserve health care after all.

By any reasonable standards, including his own, Trump's presidency is a failure. His inane conduct on Twitter has nothing to do with it.

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