Last night, in the Iowa caucus, Donald Trump — a solid-gold winner who pisses victory and farts success — placed second. And as Walter Hagen reputedly said, no one remembers who came in second.
But you don’t need me to tell you that. Twice over the last three years, Trump himself has tweeted that exact quote. Each tweet had only a few hundred interactions before last night; they’ve now been retweeted more than 50,000 times combined, because people love schadenfreude and Trump makes it easy.
Trump’s position as a glad-handing businessman and celebrity before he entered the GOP primary race is unique among presidential candidates, and one of the best ways that this has manifested is in his Twitter account.
Whenever Trump says something ridiculous (so, whenever he opens his mouth) my first impulse — and I suspect many others’ as well — is to go to Twitter and search for the topic. All it takes is “from:realdonaldtrump” in the search bar, and we’re off.
Most career politicians play it safe on Twitter, operating solely in a professional capacity. Amazing moments — like Chuck Grassley killing a deer, or Scott Brown tweeting “Bqhatevwr" — are exceptions to the rule. This makes sense. In an era of near-constant attention on candidates, social media is generally treated as a platform for sharing safe platitudes and straightforward news about the candidate. Why give your opponents more ammunition?
Trump’s feed, on the other hand, is an inadvertent cache of oppositional research: A public, searchable collection of 30,000 (and climbing) quips, comments, and asides from the last half-decade. It’s littered with self-promotion, endorsements from fans, bold proclamations, and soppy inspirational quotes that crusty old dudes love. And, importantly, opinions that should theoretically make him unpalatable to a Republican electorate — the kind of stuff campaign workers would usually have to dig around for, unearthed by an old college roommate or from a dusty filing cabinet.
Trump’s astronomically high self-assuredness means that he almost never deletes tweets, even when they might conflict with his own current phraseology or that of the Republican Establishment. Three years ago, he wrote:
It’s tough to imagine any of the other GOP candidates ever sending a tweet like this.
I highly recommend searching Trump’s feed for insults like “loser” and “hater.” This man wants to (and could!) be president of these United States, and here he is, getting into caps-lock-fueled flame wars with Twitter Eggs.
One of the most infamous Trump tweets concerned 9/11. He’s deleted the original, but it still lives on in a self-retweet. Somehow, it’s even more poetic this way.
As more and more of the globe comes online, a new breed of warfare is emerging, and the specter of a devastating act of cyberterrorism looms large over noble America. Donald, care to weigh in?
And speaking of brilliant nerds …
Weirder threads do arise when diving into the Trump archives. For instance, a few years ago, the Donald had a lot to say about Robert Pattinson’s relationship with Kristen Stewart, who cheated on Pattinson while they were dating.
When trying to put their fingers on the source of Trump’s seemingly improbable success, pundits have circled around this unpredictable self-assurance: the confidence to stand on a stage and say whatever is running through his mind. This is a horrifying quality in a presidential candidate, but reading Trump’s tweets, the appeal becomes apparent to me.
It’s not that his tweet are necessarily "authentic" — public posturing rarely is — but that their existence, in aggregate online, is something of an anomaly. In a world where an immensely famous rap star is afraid enough of public misinterpretation to erase an attention-getting fight (having already erased years’ worth of tweets about anime on YouTube), and where job applicants are constantly told to comb their social media profiles for potentially incriminating posts, it’s oddly encouraging to encounter a public figure who not only doesn’t worry about his social media history, but actively succeeds in the face of its contradictions. Even if he’s a horrible monster.
Great stuff. It’s all great. Love it. I love Trump’s old tweets, and I hope that they stay around forever, if he wins or loses.
And if, at some point, he does drop out, I know just what to do.