Was Donald Trump a good president? We don’t need to rewatch videos of the ‘Q Shaman’ storming the halls of our most sacred ‘Temple of Liberty’ to answer that question. ‘That doesn’t look…great’, muttered Cockburn to himself, mixing a Negroni and watching CNN as enraged peons scaled the walls of the Capitol on Wednesday.
How about a more heartening question, followed by a bold statement: was Donald Trump a literary genius? Without a doubt — in fact, he is, without much effort, the greatest novelist of the century so far.
Tonight’s permanent removal of Donald Trump’s Twitter account was — given that he could quite easily unleash massive violence with a string of hastily posted knife emojis — annoying, and probably for the best.
Nevertheless, it was an enormous loss to literature. The spine of a divine work of art has been snapped for good.
Trump is off the platform after five-thousand-one-hundred-and-fifteen tweets. There were 234 tweets with the word ‘loser’ in them. There were 183 tweets with ‘stupid’. 64 tweets about ‘Obama’; 298 tweets that were rude about the ‘media’; 421 tweets about ‘money’.
Zooming in to frequent terms or recurring phrases misses the big picture. ‘Many are saying I’m the best 140-character writer in the world.’ he tweeted more than once.
Fact-checkers never bothered with that one, because it was true.
Where did this magic come from? When a Trump tweet went off, it would ricochet around the system for hours, uncontrollably, setting off memes and feuds and threads. Was it the mad exclamation marks? The (very funny!) use of parentheses? It will be for some future scholar — not Cockburn — peering into the digital archive to work it all out.
The fact that this off-the-wall talent, this incomparable poster, has been banned by a dorky smoke-peyote-at-a-lodge bro with a bad conscience, is, frankly, the conclusive, final proof that life is not fair at all. Literature hasn’t been maimed like this since the censorship wars over Lady Chatterley’s Lover and that book about wanking James Joyce wrote a hundred years ago was banned.
But even they weren’t as great as these posts — or living through them in real time. It was staggering really, to know that Trump was lording it over a G7 summit and — at that exact moment, as Cockburn scrolled down his feed! — have Trump’s take on Robert Pattinson’s 2013 break-up with Kristen Stewart retweeted onto the timeline.
Moment to moment, breath to breath, thought to thought, take to take, feeling to feeling — he documented all of it on that account. That took literary skill, even literary daring. Public life was behind a thousand veils for so very long, but here, inside the fake virtual world of Twitter, nothing lay hidden.
You could read these tweets again and again. They will outlast us all, taking on new, perhaps ever more perverse meanings. The joke never gets old. A shame about everything else though!