Brevity can be the soul of wit. However, brevity often proves to be witless and soulless. Hence I’ve never been a fan of Twitter.
Last weekend President Donald Trump, riding high after a speech before a joint session of Congress –a speech when at times he waxed philosophical by implying it isn’t too much to dream of our footsteps on alien worlds – shot himself in his foot with a tweet.
It isn’t the first time. It won’t be the last. But the President’s tweet, in which he said he just found out former President Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower, was alarming and succeeded in ratcheting up media scrutiny this week despite spokesman Sean Spicer publishing a news release saying the president was asking Congress to investigate – and would have no further comment.
And while the president did better in polls due to his speech before Congress, that speech was nearly forgotten Monday.
The amount of energy and money, not to mention time, spent on a 140 character tweet would be beyond the comprehension of anyone in the Republic prior to Twitter.
The president told us he had information the previous administration bugged Trump Tower. This means either someone in the FBI presented enough evidence to a federal judge to get a warrant to wiretap Trump Tower (which doesn’t bode well for President Trump), or President Obama paid an independent contractor to wiretap Trump Tower to embarrass then candidate Donald Trump and then did nothing or could do nothing with the information.
Of course, had former President Obama wanted to embarrass Trump he probably could’ve arranged for a leak of Trump’s tax returns far easier than wiretapping Trump Tower – but the facts don’t matter.
The other option is Trump lied about the whole thing after seeing or hearing a Breitbart news article.
Monday in a press gaggle – a briefing without cameras – Spicer said “something” obviously went on and told us it could be FISA related (meaning evidence was presented before a federal judge) or some kind of surveillance took place.
When I asked him if he was conceding that, if it were “FISA related”, someone presented evidence before a judge regarding Trump’s alleged collusion with the Russian government, Spicer demurred. But wait! The President said he already had the information. Why did it even need to go to Congress?
The implications are fairly ugly, but that issue isn’t the only thing ugly at the White House. Watching inept reporters trying to operate the Tom Hanks espresso machine is ugly and comical.
The introduction of the latest version of the travel ban was ugly too.
Here the President had a great opportunity to appear to compromise since the latest travel ban is a far cry from the original ban. Instead of coming out saying he heard the opposition to the first proposed ban and was now leading the charge for compromise – which is very statesman like, when FOX reporter John Roberts asked the question, the administration continued to stubbornly defend the travel ban it was replacing!
If that wasn’t enough, Tuesday in the press briefing – now back on camera after dodging camera bullets on Monday – Spicer unveiled the administration’s replacement plan for the Affordable Healthcare Act. The cameras were turned back on – in no small part – because of the visuals: The size of the replacement legislation versus the size of the original.
Some of us are curious about the relevance of size – I suppose in some cases size does matter. By Tuesday evening the GOP replacement healthcare plan was being criticized for hurting the poor and the elderly while apparently helping rich CEOs.
This administration continues to move at warp speed – trying to plow through and roll over the negative hits in an attempt to dominate a news cycle.
We were told the replacement to the Affordable Health Care Act would take time. We were told it would be great. Now it appears to have been pushed through in a hurried attempt to overcome a series of Tweets sent by the President aimed at the former President.
The travel ban still remains what it was before – a destabilizing move meant to make us feel good while not making us any safer – and it will have the added effect of making travel more difficult for Americans abroad.
Could we revisit that speech where the president said something about traveling to distant planets? Doesn’t it at least deserve a soulless, witless Tweet?