We're only a month into the Trump administration - it just feels like a year.
With so much tumult it's hard to say we've settled into any kind of rhythm, but there has been one consistency: the morning tweeting. President Trump's tweets are a fire hose of his thinking. In 140 characters or fewer, he is informative, boastful, and often impetuous. For entertainment value alone, it's easy to see why nearly 25 million people follow @realDonaldTrump.
Enmeshed in political battles, he launches early morning, preemptive strikes, the missiles landing on anyone or anything that stands in the way of his objectives. They stoke his base. And they often serve as diversionary fodder. Consider Wednesday, when he fired this off at 6:04 a.m.:
It was the first of six tweets - before 9 a.m.! What provoked him? No doubt the disparity in television coverage of that morning's Page One, above-the-fold story in the New York Times revealing that individuals close to Trump had repeated contact with Russian intelligence officials in the year before the 2016 election.
That news was a bombshell. After all, what possible benign explanation might there be for such contact? None.
And this revelation came just two days after the firing/resignation of Michael Flynn due to his apparently having spoken to the Russian ambassador about sanctions imposed by the Obama administration, which could be a violation of the Logan Act. It strains credulity to think that Flynn would have raised that subject without the president-elect's knowledge. Hence the next tweet from the commander-in-chief at 7:08 a.m.:
And at 7:19:
A few minutes later, at 7:28, he offered a salute to a journalist who raised questions on the propriety of the leaks about his staff's interaction with the Russians:
Candidate Trump used Twitter to directly communicate with his friends and foes throughout the campaign, and President Trump has been equally loquacious with his thumbs.
Two days after his inauguration, he awoke to massive coverage of the Women's March. So at 7:47 a.m. he launched:
Presumably they had, and that is why he lost the popular vote.
Then, on the day he was scheduled to meet with the Mexican president to smooth over the border-wall dispute, came this misdirection bombshell (at 6:04 a.m.):
And after the Times reported that the Mexican president was considering canceling the meeting, the president implied that it was his idea, at 8:55 a.m.:
Amid protests over his travel ban, New York's senior senator became his foil, when at 7:20 a.m., he mocked:
The morning after Berkeley protesters prevented a speech from an alt-right guest who'd been invited by the campus Republicans, the president warned them (at 6:13):
He's even taken on the Terminator, with this presidential blast one February day at 6:24 a.m.:
And perhaps his most notorious Tweet came the very next day at 8:12 a.m., when he sought to delegitimize the federal judge who issued a restraining order that halted his travel ban:
That apparently didn't sit well with his own selection to the Supreme Court, Judge Neil Gorsuch, who referred to the president's comments as "demoralizing." So, the president made it his business, at 6:57 a.m., to try to discredit the messenger when he tweeted:
So what drives this? Is it a presidential form of ADD, or is he crazy like a fox? It's hard to say, but one thing seems clear from the man who wrote The Art of the Deal: Everything, at least in his mind, is strategic. Therefore, we need to look behind what often appears to be irrationality, and ask each morning, What is he trying to do? What narrative is he suggesting vs. the substantive matters that are occurring at the same time? And at the end of the day, we must assess the tweeting in the context of what followed.
Here's hoping he doesn't stop. These tweets are a unique, unvarnished window into a president's thinking - just so long as we don't allow them to become a shell game - a distraction from more consequential matters that warrant our attention. As this first month has proven, there's plenty going on that warrants serious scrutiny.