Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Thoughts on a Strange Day—and a Very Strange Presidential Tweet

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Benjamin Wittes (who wrote an earlier trenchant post, “Malevolence Tempered by Incompetence“) on Trump’s travel ban) notes at Lawfare:

It was a very strange day.

The only thing lower on my list of expectations than a presidential tweet when I got into an Uber this morning was what I got: an approving presidential tweet.

Yet there it was—a tweet that was, in and of itself, utterly insignificant yet at the same time, the more I thought about it over the course of the day, reinforcing of a wide array of concerns this site has been covering about the way Donald Trump is mismanaging the Office of the President:

The reference was to my short article from last night about the 9th Circuit’s denial of a stay of the district court’s freezing of Trump’s noxious executive order on visas and refugees. No, I had not said or implied that the decision was disgraceful (with or without an exclamation point). And while I had indeed noted the omission in the ruling that Trump was trumpeting and criticized some of the virtue signaling in the opinion, I had noted some other things as well. For example, I had written that “The Ninth Circuit is correct to leave the TRO in place, in my view.” I had argued that the key question in the case was whether “the repeated and overt invocations of the most invidious motivations on the part of the President himself, his campaign, his adviser, and his Twitter feed will render an otherwise valid exercise of this power invalid.” And I had concluded the post by describing “the incompetent malevolence with which this order was promulgated.”

You read that correctly: The President of the United States was tweeting approvingly an article describing his motivations as “invidious” and describing his actions using the phrase “incompetent malevolence.”

Had he even read the article, I wondered? Almost surely not, as it turned out. The explanation for how a quotation from Lawfare and from me—a person whose enthusiasm for the Trump administration is, shall we say, under control—ended up in Trump’s Twitter feed emerged quickly enough. Within a few minutes, the redoubtable Cody Poplin had tweeted that the Morning Joe show on MSNBC had featured the exact same quotation shortly before Trump’s tweet:

I’ve been thinking about this sequence of events all day—and it’s a disturbing one, albeit in an amusing and harmless context:

  • The President saw a single line of an article on a television show.
  • He tweeted that single line with apparently no idea who the author was or what the publication was, and indeed without reading the rest of the article.
  • Nobody in the White House vetted the tweet to discover the readily apparent fact that the article in question sharply criticized the President and supported the decision about which he was angrily complaining.
  • Nobody warned the President that the article was written by an author who had written numerous other articles ungraced by pleasant words about him—indeed, an author who has been calling him a threat to national security for nearly a year.
  • Nobody warned the President that the site he was about to praise has had a great deal of such writing by other writers as well.

It is a portrait in inconsequential and comical miniature of the incompetence and dysfunction we’ve been seeing since day one of the Trump Administration. It’s the . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

11 February 2017 at 11:19 am

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