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Banal but Baneful, the Trumpian Tweets

Let's agree to ignore the president's affliction

June 2017

The president channels a rambunctious imp in his tweets. The only serious way forward is to ignore them.
If it weren't for the bane of Twitter and Donald Trump's obsession with it, we would have an almost ordinary federal administration in Washington. Not quite ordinary, of course; we would still have a president who lacks the grace and common courtesy expected of a president. A large man, he oddly seems to harbor the "little guy" complex of aggressive defensiveness, ever ready to lash out at the least perceived slight. That's an unfortunate trait in a national leader, though it might be manageable were it kept within the White House. Alas, the president has chosen to trumpet his affliction around the world via Twitter, to the denigration of his reputation and the embarrassment of his countrymen.

I say "affliction" because that's what the president has, and Mr.Trump's psychological affliction is what the entire country is now suffering from. We're suffering from it because of the national media's preoccupation with it. It's right to ask, would the media be equally obsessed, and equally mocking, toward a more common disability in a president, say a lame leg or diabetes? Of course they wouldn't, they would try to be supportive. The idea of mocking such disabilities, had the president been afflicted with them, wouldn't even have occurred to the press. Yet they've spent Mr.Trump's first months in office mocking the president's psychological affliction – his lack of self-control. Through the media the president's problem has become the nation's and the world's problem.

How could the press have handled this better, and how can they change their approach now so that we will get through these four years with our national self-respect intact?

First let's understand that inside Donald Trump lives a ten-year old Donald Trump.  "Jr", like many children, loves to tweet. His faithful "friends" live in cyberspace; he doesn't know them but he's dependent on them for approval. Each evening and morning, it seems, an obsessive need takes hold of the president to set himself down by his computer and release this inner child. The child writes stupid stuff on Twitter. And I say, So What? We all have our flaws and afflictions. This idiot inner child just happens to be Trump's. Let's either find a cure or learn to accept – or rather, to ignore – the doings of this imp.

The press, so far, has been unable to separate the imp's ramblings on Twitter from the person of the president. And this has caused the press to take the imp's gibberish seriously, to search for meaning, for consistency with or deviation from the president's supposed policies. This again has led to misunderstanding, to confusion, to false reports and wasted time for journalists and readers, for the president, the administration, and Congress. Editors of the world, how could you fall into this trap? How have you stumbled headlong – apparently with eyes open – into this anoxic bog of Twitterdom, the home of thought-less blather; how have you decided to take seriously the brain-farts of the imp of Mr.Trump's affliction, the "Twimp" that amuses itself with watching you destroy your own craft? Learn this: Trump, like many people, doesn't think before he speaks; or before he tweets. His blurts and tweets don't contain actual thought. Treating them as if they're meaningful has upended the responsible press right into a ditch.

Were I a newspaper editor with some freedom from economic realities (I know, I know), I would instruct my staff:

"Trump's tweets are NOT news. They're not policy, they're not related to federal programs, they contain no thought, and they're irrelevant. They're not presidential communication; they're his inner child's nighttime trash-talk with his Twitter friends. They have nothing to do with anything. Don't report them, and don't ask the press secretary how they jibe with official policy. They didn't happen; they're not real."

When the press learns to see the Trumpian tweets as a meaningless symptom of the president's unfortunate affliction, which deserves to be kept private among him and his Twitter cohort, I trust they will come around to this realistic and workable policy. At this time, denying the imp media time is the most constructive thing they could do.

© H. Paul Lillebo

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