Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump recently told ABC News that his opponent Hillary Clinton doesn’t have a “presidential look.” When anchor David Muir asked Trump what he meant, Trump responded that, for example, “She says things about me that are horrible.”
If your opponent’s platform is unrestrained xenophobia, racism and misogyny — and Trump’s is — it can be difficult to find something nice to say. “My, but that turd is shiny,” only goes so far when the room smells like shit.
It is rich indeed for Trump to accuse Clinton of lacking a presidential bearing. As usual, the accusations Trump levies at his opponent are best turned right back on himself. We need look no further than @realDonaldTrump, the GOP candidate’s own odious Twitter account, to see just how nasty and unpresidential the man can be.
In early September, this was Trump’s response to being criticized on a television morning show: “Just heard that crazy and very dumb @morningmika had a mental breakdown while talking about me on the low ratings @Morning_Joe. Joe a mess!”
Trump’s Twitter timeline, replete with whining, name-calling and general incoherence, is not suited at all to someone vying for the presidency of these here United States. Who but the most petulant child responds to the serious concerns of grown people by slinging “crazy and very dumb” around? In his gross hypersensitivity, the man fails even to be articulate or amusing.
To put it bluntly, Trump talks a whole lot of smack on Twitter — about the media, about Republicans he believes have betrayed him, about Hillary Clinton. Trump has a particular distaste for journalists, or at least the ones he believes are part of the vast conspiracy hiding his true popularity. I’m happy to take Trump at his word that “the dishonest media” are organized against him, though I myself, as a member of said dishonest media, have repeatedly missed the conspiracy memo. But sure, Don. We’re all out to get you! Oogly-boogly!
In a way, Twitter’s kind of a blessing for those of us tasked with parsing what happens when Trump opens his mouth. The guy is a walking word salad, which works in his favor basically all the time, forcing journalists to do their damnedest to make sense of the downright unintelligible things he says. His supporters hear what they want to hear when Trump, for example, suggests that there’s something “Second Amendment people” can do to stop Hillary Clinton from nominating Supreme Court judges. Reporters are stuck trying to figure out if a presidential candidate actually meant to encourage violence against his opponent. And Trump gets to play innocent, claiming he didn’t mean what everyone took him to mean. Who can argue, really? It’s impossible, in truth, to decipher a guy who talks not just in circles, but in Escher-esque loops.
But when Trump takes to Twitter, he speaks with a kind of remarkably incoherent clarity, channelling a brain teeming with anger and an outsized persecution complex into 140-character bursts of salt and spit. In a historic endorsement of a Democrat for president — their first in 75 years — the Dallas Morning News editorial board took note of Trump’s online antics, writing that “his improvisational insults and midnight tweets exhibit a dangerous lack of judgment and impulse control.”
We can talk about Trump’s lifetime of questionable business dealings, wholesale lack of anything resembling a cogent political philosophy and unabashedly corrupt campaign contributions. We can talk about his bigoted ranting at campaign stops, his inability to deliver a speech, or his staff’s cozy relationship with Russia and its allies. We can talk about his reluctance to rebuke the support of Ku Klux Klan Imperial Wizard David Duke, and his naked play to manipulate and stoke the racist fears of his would-be constituents.
But here is a man who promotes and retweets white supremacist accounts, who insults and derides journalists on Twitter with childish insults like “clown,” and who never sleeps on his bizarre stream-of-consciousness diatribes against anyone who dares question him.
All we really need to do is read Trump’s Twitter feed to see that the man is unable to operate in the world the rest of us inhabit. And he is singularly incapable of leading it.