After five months of the Trump presidency one thing is certain: Trump's tweets are nonstop. Trump tweets anything that comes to mind, at any hour, about any topic.
His tweeting may even have done the impossible: bring Americans together. Whether you love Trump or hate him, the majority of Americans agree the man's tweets hurt him more than help him. And that was before the latest contentious tweet, a stunningly personal insult of MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski, which drew strong denouncements from Republicans and Democrats alike.
"This has to stop," tweeted Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) about Trump's recent Twitter tirade. "We all have a job—three branches of government and media. We don’t have to get along, but we must show respect and civility."
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) chimed in. "Obviously I don't see that as an appropriate comment," he said, adding: "What we're trying to do around here is improve the tone, the civility of the debate. And this obviously doesn't help do that."
When questioned about Trump's vicious personal attacks on people who disagree with him and the dignity of his responses, White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders claimed Trump's right to make personal attacks on others who've attacked him. "When he gets attacked, he's going to hit back...I don't think it's a surprise to anybody that he fights fire with fire." She stressed that the American people elected a fighter and knew exactly what they were getting.
Please Trump supporters, tell me: Is this what you thought you were getting? Trump's juvenile behavior does not serve any purpose other than to make him look unfit to be president. It certainly won't stop the media from acting as watchdogs to power, which is their job.
Trump needs to stop confusing strength with bullying. He's the president of the United States for God's sake. People aren't always going to like what he says or does. He needs to put on his big boy pants and stop the nasty personal attacks on individuals who disagree with him. But he doesn't seem to know how to rise above the petty grievances that get under his skin, taking his attention away from the domestic policy issues and international affairs that need every ounce of his attention. He's a public servant with the most extraordinary responsibilities, but he acts like a cornered boxer interested only in defending his title.
Does Trump really want to be the biggest bully on the playground, attacking not only America's enemies, but individual Americans who call him to task? Or does he possibly believe that Americans who disagree with him are his enemies? How does this approach help bridge our cultural and political divide? And how can Trump ask his detractors—as he occasionally does—to join him as part of one unified America? He can't deepen the divide with venomous attacks and expect the people he denigrates to rally behind him. It's nonsensical.
Trump's logic escapes many of us, most of the time. Conservative commentator George Will neatly summed Trump up as an "improvisational amateur." There is no way to tell what Trump is thinking and what his next political move may be. North Korea? Health care? Vulgar tweet about a media host? It's a kaleidoscope. It's frightening not to know what your president is capable of doing next.
And all of this doesn't even scratch the surface of two other jaw-dropping revelations this week. The New York Times reported on the dozens of indisputable and outright lies that Trump has told since taking the oath of office. The Times makes the case for bearing witness to the ongoing deceptions that the Trump administration uses as a matter of course. These are objective, nonpartisan facts; not fake news, as Trump's minions seem to paint the facts they don't like.
World leaders are equally dismayed. A Pew Research Center survey of 37 nations found a median of just 22% has confidence in Trump to do the right thing when it comes to international affairs. Trust in the American administration has dropped precipitously since President Obama left office.
Trump supporters seem relatively unfazed by the president's incivility and tenuous grasp of reality. I guess they blame the media, content to imagine that all media is fake or has treated Trump unfairly. I'm not sure why they aren't concerned; they should be. If a boss or a pastor or a best friend treated you with such vitriol and indifference, you would not stand for it. You'd find a new job, a new church, or a new friend.
All of this adds up to a huge risk for Trump. His impulsive, mean-spirited nature may goad him into unwittingly realizing his greatest fear: he may soon be irrelevant. Rude behavior, reckless untruths, and incessant tweeting—designed to bolster Trump's ego and make him appear like a stronger leader—are undermining his own credibility. The result? He's just the little boy who cried wolf. Soon we may not pay any attention to him or his tweets at all. And that's a great sadness for all Americans who yearn to respect the office of the presidency, even when we cannot find a way to respect the man. Sad.