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When did Donald Trump’s tweets become so boring?

It feels like he’s tweeting by numbers

February 12, 2019

6:05 PM

12 February 2019

6:05 PM

It wasn’t so long ago Trump’s tweets were easily the planet’s most important media events. Comedy zingers, outrageous denunciations of the previously undenounceable, white knuckle threats of nuclear apocalypse sent in the small hours… how we hung on the leader of the free world’s every word.

But now, suddenly, it feels like he’s phoning them in – tweeting by numbers. Where’s the brio? Where’s the zip? The heart seems gone. I can’t help but wonder if he needs more Executive Time.

Sure, the insults and the catchphrases are still there, but they no longer carry the famous Trump bite. Take these tweets – two of his more lively – from the last seven days:

Could it be that Trump has become a victim of his own success? Barely two years into his presidency, he’s achieved so many of the things his knockers said he never could. The economy booms and job creation occurs on a scale that is unprecedented. He prevails in his death battle with the media. Abroad, ISIS is obliterated and even North Korea comes in from the cold. Suddenly the wise-ass from Queens lacks for pricks to kick against. Even Robert Mueller’s Russia collusion investigation seems to have lost its ability to make him fizz. Starved of material to work with, Trump grows bored and the evidence on Twitter is there for all to see.

Or could it be that the business of actual politics – something the president didn’t much have to lower himself to until the November midterm loss of the House of Representatives – weighs heavily? Building a wall, it turns out, is no cakewalk and compromise is soul-sapping. Sure, it’s easy to be the life and soul on Twitter when all you do is throw sixes, but not so easy when your own base screams blue murder about the breaking of a promise. Now the possibility of arriving at the 2020 race for the White House looking like a man who can’t be guaranteed to deliver looms ever larger. The quips don’t come so easy.

Of course, it’s also possible that Trump no longer does any of his tweets; that some Harvard-educated comms guy (or just Dan Scavino) in the West Wing approximates them using keywords that focus group feedback demonstrates go over big. If that is the case, then the result lately has been nothing so much as bad karaoke. Even Trump’s most ardent critics – people whose hatred for him keeps them awake at night – will admit his work on Twitter can often approach genius-level artistry. He has a game-changing gift for it that can’t just be copied. If that is the case, give the man back his phone. It’s his greatest political asset.

Tellingly, far more interesting these days than the President’s tweets are those of his son. Donald Junior, who has a relatively paltry 3.3 million followers, uses his account to sock it vigorously to the libs and praise his father. He can also share the occasional funny. There’s now a vitality to Junior’s tweeting that his father’s seems to have lost.

It could be that @realDonaldTrump no longer has the power to shock and awe because we have grown too used to him. Sociologists are endlessly pleased with calling this phenomenon a ‘new normal’. Certainly, what once seemed gasp-inducingly unpresidential now seems almost predictably so. Using Twitter alone, Trump has taken us all on a mental journey to the edge of Armageddon and back. It’s kind of hard to top that. That said, he’s not your average president and everything is still very much possible. Or it could be this is just a lull and his Twitter feed will come roaring back to life as the next election approaches. A man can only work with what’s in front of him.


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