One of Donald Trump’s unique political assets is the strategic flexibility associated with total abandonment of any notion of presidential dignity. So it seems entirely in character that he is thinking about setting a new low by live-tweeting the Democratic presidential candidate debates on June 26 and 27. The Wall Street Journal has the scoop:
President Trump’s political advisers wanted to keep the president off of Twitter during the Democratic debates next week, arguing that there was an advantage in letting potential challengers attack one another without distraction.
Now, there’s a new strategy.
The president, who has spent years embracing social media for his political advantage, is tentatively planning to live-tweet the debates on June 26-27, according to people familiar with the planning.
I guess when you consider yourself the Sun King, even the other party’s deliberations only gain meaning in your dazzling reflected light. From a practical point of view, however, Trump is horning in on a concentrated moment of Democratic media attention. It’s unclear how, exactly, that will play, given Democrats’ own preoccupation with the 45th president. If he bestows an insulting nickname on a lower-tier candidate in the middle of the debate, will that candidate rise to a higher tier? Will Democrats try to bait Trump with their own insults, hoping to draw a tweet that amplifies them? Could Trump accidentally draw more eyes to an opposition event, perhaps damaging his own cause?
There’s obviously no precedent for answering any of these questions. And the leaked “tentative plans” could just be a head fake. Trump may decide he cannot boost the credibility of the Fake News networks (NBC, MSNBC, and Telemundo) sponsoring the debates, and will instead watch the the next morning’s Fox & Friends for a recap before commenting.
As someone who may be live-tweeting the debates myself, I have mixed feelings about being in the same virtual room as POTUS. On the one hand, it’s a complication none of us really needs in covering these events. On the other hand, I like the idea of talking back to him in real time. It’s like being Jim Acosta for a couple of hours.