Looking at the tweets was like reliving all of the unbelievable moments of this last year in fast motion. But it’s important not to forget that we used to not have to deal with the dread of waking up each morning to realize that Donald Trump is president and scramble madly for Twitter to make sure we’re not at war. A year ago, all of this was new to us.
So here are ten of Trump’s tweets, in chronological order, that capture something about the authoritarian nature of this presidency or the insanity of our social media moment. I left off some obvious favorites (covfefe!) and tended to favor some earlier ones that prefigured later themes.
1. Nov 10, 2016 09:19:44 PM: Just had a very open and successful presidential election. Now professional protesters, incited by the media, are protesting. Very unfair
Even though it was from the interregnum, this tweet is in many ways the Ur-tweet of the Trump presidency. It is only Trump’s fourth post-election tweet, but it captures the spirit of his feed. Validate Trump+attack enemies+attack media=complain about affront to Trump.
2. Nov 19, 2016 08:56:30 AM: The Theater must always be a safe and special place.The cast of Hamilton was very rude last night to a very good man, Mike Pence. Apologize!
This tweet is about the VP-elect’s attendance of the hit play “Hamilton,” whose cast ended the performance with a short speech, expressing the concern we all felt in those uncertain days while hoping “this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us.”
But Trump took the opportunity to remind us of the depths of his cynicism when he demanded a safe space for powerful white men. Brandon Victor Dixon, who gave the speech, is Black, and Trump has made a habit of demanding apologies from Black people. This tweet barely made the list, just edging out Trump’s claim, also in November, that “Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag – if they do, there must be consequences – perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!” because both turn out to introduce autocratic themes we’ve seen develop over the year.
Here the President threatens the funds of a major university in order to support Milo Yiannopoulos, the right-wing troll who had white supremacists line-edit his ghostwritten Breitbart stories, when his speech at Berkeley was being protested. Milo worked for Steve Bannon, who worked for Trump.
4. Feb 17, 2017 04:32:29 PM: The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @CNN, @NBCNews and many more) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American people. SICK!
This is at the top of the list of authoritarian tweets. It’s got it all.
5. Apr 11, 2017 07:03:43 AM: North Korea is looking for trouble. If China decides to help, that would be great. If not, we will solve the problem without them! U.S.A.
Foreign policy by tweet. This led to all of the little Rocketman stuff that almost started a nuclear war and ruined a perfectly good Elton John song.
6. Apr 23, 2017 10:44:59 AM: Eventually, but at a later date so we can get started early, Mexico will be paying, in some form, for the badly needed border wall.
Walking back an impossible promise while making it look like you’re delivering. This is exactly how Trump ran (runs?) his businesses.
7. June 16, 2017 08:07:55 AM: I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt
This reminds me of a line from an Oedipus play. Read it again with that in mind. Tragic.
8. Sep 30, 2017 06:26:16 AM: …Such poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help. They……
Sep 30, 2017 06:29:47 AM: want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort. 10,000 Federal workers now on Island doing a fantastic job.
OK, this is two. But he’s attacking the mayor of a devastated city and using racist stereotypes all in one (he practiced for this after the London terrorist attack.)
9. Nov 29, 2017 07:16:21 AM: Wow, Matt Lauer was just fired from NBC for “inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.” But when will the top executives at NBC & Comcast be fired for putting out so much Fake News. Check out Andy Lack’s past!
The complete cynicism of the entire administration becomes painfully clear here. Remember how tough Lauer was on Clinton as he bro-ed it up with Trump? The 16 allegations of sexual harassment against Trump? Yeah. He still went there.
10. Dec 2, 2017 12:14:13 PM: I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI. He has pled guilty to those lies. It is a shame because his actions during the transition were lawful. There was nothing to hide!*
This one has an asterisk beside it because when it seemed like it could be an admission that Trump obstructed justice in the investigation of Flynn, Trump’s creepy lawyer John Dowd claimed that he actually wrote the tweet.
This is a retweet, but it’s Trump retweeting Laura Ingraham responding to a story I wrote arguing that Charles Manson was alt-right, so I couldn’t not include it.
Ingraham quoted that and wrote: Nov 21, 2017 8:37 PM “Far right”? You mean “right so far,” as in @realDonaldTrump has been right so far abt how to kick the economy into high gear.
And Trump retweeted it, somehow both proving my point and completing the circle of my year.