Trump’s Tweets Don’t Really Mean Anything

This is even better than the orginal G7 picture that made the rounds in August. Check out Shinzo Abe. This is an all-time classic eye roll.Pignatelli/Euc/Ropi via ZUMA

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Remember when Donald Trump got pissed off and decided to pull out of the G7 communique? Well, um, BuzzFeed reports that it never happened:

“The White House and State Dept. are actively ignoring the tweets of the president,” one of the sources said. “It’s like there’s a reality TV president, in his own bubble, thinking he controls stuff. It’s like The Truman Show.” Trump’s tweet, the source explained, wasn’t sufficient to pull out of the communique itself because “the G7 has a suite of diplomatic tools for communications, and Twitter isn’t one of them.” The lack of a formal US notification means the G7 communique remains intact as agreed by the seven leaders in Quebec, the source added.

Twitter isn’t a formal diplomatic tool for the G7! Imagine. Steve Benen comments:

This G-7 story isn’t the first example we’ve seen of U.S. officials choosing to disregard Donald Trump’s orders….It’s an alarming dynamic, of course, because our system of government isn’t supposed to work this way, but it’s nearly as troubling that Trump doesn’t seem to notice. He seems to make official declarations, assuming his orders will be followed, but he fails to do any follow up.

Right. There are two things about this:

  • Trump doesn’t notice whether his tweets are carried out because his tweets aren’t meant as executive orders. They are meant as messages to his base. This is how you should read and interpret every Trump tweet. You have to look elsewhere to figure out if Trump is serious about something he’s tweeted.
  • Beyond that, though, it’s true that Trump doesn’t follow up much. That’s been true since his first day, when he all but sabotaged the White House hiring office and, in consequence, appointed hardly anyone to subcabinet posts out in the executive agencies. Every student of government knows that controlling the bureaucracy is crucial, and to do that you need your own people in as many jobs as possible. Everyone knows this. But Trump didn’t care, and apparently no one on his staff bothered to push him on it. I don’t know if this is because he hired such inexperienced staffers or if it’s because his staff was just as happy not to have lots of Trump true believers wreacking havoc in the outer provinces.

Is this good or bad? Probably good, especially if Trump serves only one term and a new president can clean up the wreckage in 2021. But if Trump serves two terms? Erk.


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