The Mind of Donald Trump on Twitter
Melissa Mackenzie
by

Sovietologist Tom Nichols believes Donald Trump’s Twitter transparency gives the President’s game away to foreign operatives. Tom put forth these tweets that beg the question: Is President Trump arming enemies and friends with data that helps them manipulate the President and by extension, the United States?

First, Tom Nichol’s tweets:

The gist of Tom’s thread is that the President reveals much about his life by when and how he tweets. Too much. When is he busy? When is he sleeping? When is he in meetings? How obsessive is he?

Tom is right about this. All sorts of insights can be gleaned via social sharing. The President is no exception. A friend who was being particularly hostile in a stream of tweets over a span of weeks prompted me to DM and ask if all was well. Turns out that he was going through a bitter divorce and things were not going well. “Am I that transparent?”Yes, he was. To those who pay attention, we all are that transparent.

So, Tom’s assessment that President Trump’s profile gives away critical information is true. It does. And it reinforces what we already know about Trump’s personality and character: President Trump is brash, whimsical, funny, plain-spoken, and defensive. He has a blue-collar Long Island way about him – a pride culture where men are peacocks and respond aggressively to threats and disrespect.

It’s also obvious that President Trump requires little sleep. He’s motivated by what he reads in the media. He hates injustice and feels compelled to right the unfairness. He has vast stores of energy and an agile mind. He loves the spotlight and is energized by it. He talks over his tweets with subordinates, most of the time, but is far more bold than any advisor. He’s a tough cat to wrangle.

One rhetorical tic that is quite charming is his cheerful style, like here where he wishes people a good day:

It’s very personal. President Trump understands Twitter is a way to connect. This is something that even some longtime users of Twitter don’t grasp: the medium is meant for connection. People read President Trump’s message, he informs them of his schedule, and then he wishes them a good day. Hillary Clinton couldn’t master this congeniality in another 35 years of public life.

There are other notes. President Trump tweets about things he considers trivialities. He believes that Sally Yates is a triviality. Otherwise, he wouldn’t tweet about her. By this I mean that he feels like he’s on solid ground about her wrongness and so fires away because she’s gone, he feels she was wrong, the decision is made. He’s free to talk about it.

Some recoil that Yates’ testimony shouldn’t be tainted by the Executive in Chief’s opining on the matter. President Trump thinks the process is horse manure so he tweets about it. It’s clear he loathes the disingenuous DC media, the obfuscation by Sally, and the inherently wasteful process. So he tweets his derision.

What President Trump doesn’t talk about also reveals much. He rarely tweets about his family. He doesn’t telegraph business decisions. He puts a positive public face on difficult relationships both personal and political by praising his enemy in hopes for a positive outcome. It appears that he likes giving foreign leaders space to disagree and move to a more amenable position to Trump in private.

Trump also has a rhetorical style where he pushes ideas broadly, sometimes way beyond what it seems he’s willing to accept. This is a typical negotiating technique and one Trump has used repeatedly.

What Donald Trump is not is predictable when backed into a corner. This is in stark contrast to his predecessor.

Barack Obama’s plodding style was extolled by American elites as thoughtful and methodical. Hardly. Afraid to make a mistake and driven ideologically to prop up those who he viewed as underdogs, he consistently sided with enemies of freedom and even America’s own interests. Craven and literally bowing, Obama presented America as weak and submissive. And under Obama, America was weak and submissive.

Obama was predictable and careful to protect his image. He’s vain. He likes being perceived as smart. Vladimir Putin pricked this personality flaw and  openly scorned him. The personal antipathy between Vlad and Obama had much to do with Obama’s stupidity and Putin’s failure to pretend that Obama wasn’t stupid. In America and the West in general, the media and ruling elites played along with Obama’s grandiose vision of himself. Putin rolled his eyes and undermined Obama at every turn. Putin knew what Obama would do before Obama knew himself. It didn’t take tweets to figure this out.

In contrast, Putin seemed bemused by George W. Bush’s plain-spoken nature. Bush was not a subtle man. He also wasn’t trivial. In a way, Putin could relax – and so could the world. They might not like what Bush was up to, and many didn’t, but they understood it. His behavior had a logic to it.

Putin cannot possibly predict Trump’s actions. Nor can Kim Jung Un. Nor can Tom Nichols. Nor can I or anybody else.

Is President Trump capricious? With things that don’t matter, yes. With things that matter, his behavior indicates no…maybe. He can be extraordinarily dogged when he sets his sights on an outcome he seeks. He trusts his people. He can, however, change his mind. A lot. Quickly.

With or without Twitter, arm-chair psychological insights are easy to come by with the worldwide media. Trump, himself, is intuitive about the strengths and weaknesses of people. He reduced various politicians easily to their weakest essence – Little Marco (he’s childish and an immature pretty boy), Lyin’ Ted (he’s conniving and untrustworthy), Low Energy Jeb (he’s not working too hard and not earning it). No doubt, he’s taken the measure of various world leaders, too. That’s a strong asset to have when negotiating.

Does information Donald Trump reveals on Twitter matter? So far, not really.

Donald Trump’s feed produces a lot of noise. Did anything he transmit on Twitter indicate how he’d act with the premier of China? Did it convey his determination to bomb  Syria? Did it destroy a relationship with Mexico?

The Twitter feed of the President has produced a constant stream of information to help drive the news cycle and stay connected with voters.  It has flummoxed the media and confounded the elites. I’m not sure, though, that it’s been the treasure trove that Tom Nichols surmises.

The most interesting part of President Trump’s Twitter feed is what he doesn’t say. It’s probably what keeps other world leaders sweating, too. After dull and predictably anti-American stances by the former president, this change is welcome to many Americans. Hopefully, it causes America’s enemies heartburn.

Melissa Mackenzie
Melissa Mackenzie
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Melissa Mackenzie is Publisher of The American Spectator. Melissa commentates for the BBC and has appeared on Fox. Her work has been featured at The Guardian, PJ Media, and was a front page contributor to RedState. Melissa commutes from Houston, Texas to Alexandria, VA. She lives in Houston with her two sons, one daughter, and a Ragdoll cat. You can follow Ms. Mackenzie on Twitter: @MelissaTweets.
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