The Tweeting Tyrant

Neither the words “ridiculous” nor “stupid” had proper dictionary definitions until this president took office. Even the phrase “shockingly inappropriate” had, at best, an academic definition until Donald J. Trump stepped onto the political stage.

If he were not president, he would just be an out-of-touch old bigot with terrible hair, along with a case of megalomania that ought to be studied in medical journals. But, as he is our president, waking up to find out he has attacked Oprah on Twitter just for facilitating a town hall discussion about him on 60 Minutes makes you think Trump’s running the country from a psych ward somewhere.

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The ridiculousness of the Tweet stands on its own: most of us would have to have been drunk or high to write it, or extremely emotional. (Trump writes them stone-cold sober, it seems.) But he also happened to write it days after a mass shooting in a Florida high school, amid both the grief and fury of the nation’s high schoolers and their families. Most everyone else was paying attention to students like Emma González, shown here on CNN delivering an angry, tearful speech demanding gun control laws now to keep more kids from getting slaughtered in classrooms. Students like González have been spearheading a revolt against lawmakers’ refusal to pass laws that would help protect children and teens in their classrooms, and some of those lawmakers, even Republicans, have been listening. There has been a softening around the issue in a way even Newtown — where 20 first graders were slaughtered — could not manage. 

It is a humbling moment: the kids are shaming us. Their ability to cry out the undeniable truth of what is at the core of the supposed gun control debate — human lives — is shifting us in a way nothing else has. They still have a whiff of their classmates’ and friends’ blood in their nostrils, and it is no joke.

But Trump, as the president of the United States and leader of the world’s largest military, a.k.a. Leader of the Free World, has had a lot of other things to think about. Big things. For example, he was thinking of U.S. Representative Adam Schiff, a Democrat from California, whose outspoken criticism of Trump has drawn the usual childish response. Here he refers to Schiff as “Liddle’ (sic) Adam Schiff, the leakin’ monster of no control.” He is referring to comments Schiff made holding Barack Obama accountable for not looking into Russian meddling during his term. The Tweet, ridiculously, ends thanking Schiff. 

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Behold, our president. He is not merely out of touch, like somebody’s eccentric-but-benign grandfather. He is a ten-year-old boy, and not a very bright one. There are no number of teleprompters or speech writers that could reign in that kind of crazy. He can give a halfway polished State of the Union one night, and then make a speech a few days later labeling Democrats who did not clap for him as treasonous. The matter of his popularity, real or imagined, has captured our president’s whole focus. And Twitter — not his nuclear arsenal so far, thank God — is his weapon of choice whenever a craggy, antagonizing, or petty thought enters his mind, which is alarmingly often. 

Knowing what babified, small-minded thoughts are crowding our president’s head every day makes respecting him nearly impossible as a grown man, let alone a president. Even an ordinary guy would have a hard time commanding respect with so much garbage on the brain.

But, as Oprah’s 60 Minutes segment pointed out, there is a significant portion of the United States population that thinks the daily Tweet-storms are just fine, and that Trump is an excellent president. Which makes me wonder if, in this polarized nation, we might need to add an argument over the proper dictionary definitions of words like “fool” to the fray. As fodder we can include the Oxford thesaurus utterly delightful list of synonyms, which include: 

idiot, ass, blockhead, dunce, dolt, ignoramus, imbecile, cretin, dullard, simpleton, moron, clod; informal nitwit, halfwit, dope, ninny, nincompoop, chump, dimwit, dingbat, dipstick, goober, coot, goon, dumbo, dummy, ditz, dumdum, fathead, butthead, numbskull, numbnuts, dunderhead, thickhead, airhead, flake, lamebrain, mouth-breather, zombie, nerd, peabrain, birdbrain, scissorbill, jughead, jerk, donkey, twit, goat, dork, twerp, lamer, schmuck, bozo, boob, turkey, schlep, chowderhead, dumbhead, goofball, goof, goofus, doofus, hoser, galoot, lummox, knuckle-dragger, klutz, putz, schlemiel, sap, meatball, dumb cluck, mook; vulgar slang: asshat.

and Donald J. Trump

Raise your hand if you can think of anybody else. Anybody at all.