Wed, Dec 06, 2017 - Page 9 News List

How Trump uses Twitter storms to make the political weather

Causing a rupture with a close ally, endorsing a hate group, undermining a Cabinet member — it is all in a morning’s work for the US president’s restless thumbs

By David Smith  /  The Guardian, WASHINGTON

However, even some of Trump’s confidants believe he went too far with the Britain First tweets.

“I think it was mistake to send out the anti-Muslim videos,” said Newsmax Media chief executive Christopher Ruddy, who spent part of Thanksgiving weekend with the president at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida. “I have personally and publicly encouraged him to do a review process. I think the tweets are hurting him in the polls.”

Ruddy’s pleas have fallen on deaf ears.

“I think he feels cornered by the media and this is his outlet,” he said. “His attack on Theresa May was pretty gentle, pretty mild when compared to others.”

Not every tweet is Trump’s own work. Kelly takes little interest, but White House director of social media Dan Scavino has a hand in some. The men met when Scavino caddied for Trump at a golf club in Westchester, New York.

“He [Scavino] has said that he often taps out tweets for the president’s account as Trump dictates them, and he has a knack for mimicking his boss on Twitter,” the Politico Web site reported.

“‘Scavino channels Trump, not the other way around,’ said a senior White House aide,” the report said.

Trump’s unapologetic embrace of Twitter makes perfect sense to his biographer, Gwenda Blair, author of The Trumps and Donald Trump: The Candidate.

“He’s a salesman and a salesman’s No1 technique is to keep the attention on him and frame what the conversation is and control what is being discussed,” she said. “Twitter is perfect: It allows him to get out ahead of the news agenda. Although Twitter wasn’t around in the 70s, that performance MO was already in place.”

The speed of Twitter enables Trump to outrun fact-checkers, Blair added.

“There’s often speculation that various officials at the White House have tried to rein him in and calm him down, get his finger off the send button. Perhaps. I think that’s in part wishful thinking because it’s like his magic wand. Why would they want to take it away? He’s used it to undermine the media, detach facts from truth, makes himself the arbiter of what’s important and cement that politics-of-grievance bond,” she said.

Under any other president, the clash with Britain would have dominated the entire week. In Trump’s world, it was quickly buried under an avalanche of fresh dramas.

Joe Scarborough, a former Republican congressman turned TV host, suggested the president is now “completely detached from reality.”

“You have somebody inside the White House that the New York Daily News says is mentally unfit. That people close to him say is mentally unfit, that people close to him during the campaign told me had early stages of dementia,” Scarborough said on the MSNBC channel.

However, another explanation for the president’s boisterous behavior, seemingly emboldened, carefree of consequences, may have been that he sensed a legislative victory finally in his grasp.

In the early hours of Saturday, Senate Republicans passed a US$1.5 trillion tax bill that would deliver massive gains to corporate America and the wealthy.

True to form, Trump responded on Twitter: “Look forward to signing a final bill before Christmas!”

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