Trump thinks the same way he tweets

The Washington Post Sunday - - SUNDAY OPINION - DANA MILBANK Twit­ter: @Milbank

Icon­fig­ured Twit­ter a cou­ple of weeks ago to get text alerts on my phone when­ever Pres­i­dent Trump tweets. Bad! Now any mo­ment of tran­quil­ity can be pierced by his ran­dom out­bursts.

I awake from a rest­ful night to see: “Iran has been for­mally PUT ON NO­TICE for fir­ing a bal­lis­tic mis­sile. Should have been thank­ful for the ter­ri­ble deal the U.S. made with them!”

I’m prun­ing in the back yard on a Sun­day af­ter­noon and feel a vi­bra­tion in my pocket: “Just can­not be­lieve a judge would put our coun­try in such peril. If some­thing hap­pens blame him and court sys­tem. Peo­ple pour­ing in. Bad!”

I’m com­mut­ing to work when I sud­denly see: “The Democrats had to come up with a story as to why they lost the elec­tion, and so badly (306), so they made up a story — RUS­SIA. Fake news!”

The erup­tions fol­low a sim­i­lar pattern of du­bi­ous state­ment fol­lowed by ex­cla­ma­tion:

“Our hero Ryan died on a win­ning mis­sion (ac­cord­ing to Gen­eral Mattis), not a ‘fail­ure.’ Time for the U.S. to get smart and start win­ning again!”

“Had a great meet­ing at CIA Head­quar­ters yes­ter­day, packed house, paid great re­spect to Wall, long stand­ing ova­tions, amaz­ing peo­ple. WIN!”

“The opin­ion of this so-called judge, which es­sen­tially takes law-en­force­ment away from our coun­try, is ridicu­lous and will be over­turned!”

But it turns out that this may not be just the way the pres­i­dent tweets. It may be the way he thinks.

Ric­o­chet­ing at his news con­fer­ence Thurs­day af­ter­noon from topic to un­re­lated topic and back again, Trump sounded like a walk­ing ad for Ri­talin. But pay close at­ten­tion, and you re­al­ize his brain is ac­tu­ally scrolling through its own in­ter­nal Twit­ter feed. Most thoughts are dis­pensed with in 140 char­ac­ters or fewer. If he has a very big thought, he may give it 280 char­ac­ters, or an ex­tra tweet’s worth. Then he’ll jump to the next topic.

His thought bursts are (of­ten) in­ter­nally con­sis­tent, even if they’re con­tra­dicted by the facts or by things he him­self said only mo­ments ear­lier. I fol­lowed Trump’s tweet-think dur­ing Thurs­day’s ram­bling news con­fer­ence:

“I see sto­ries of chaos — chaos. Yet it is the ex­act op­po­site. This ad­min­is­tra­tion is run­ning like a fine-tuned ma­chine!” (119 char­ac­ters)

“Peo­ple came out and voted like they’ve never seen be­fore,” he said of his 306 elec­toral votes. “I guess it was the big­gest elec­toral col­lege win since Ron­ald Rea­gan!” (126 and, in case you were won­der­ing, Barack Obama, Bill Clin­ton and Ge­orge H.W. Bush all ex­ceeded 306 elec­toral votes — five times in all.)

“You can talk all you want about Rus­sia, which was all . . . fake news, fab­ri­cated deal, to try and make up for the loss of the Democrats!” (137)

“The leaks are ab­so­lutely real. The news is fake — be­cause so much of the news is fake!” (86)

How, I won­dered, would his­tory have turned out if those who came be­fore us had their brains sim­i­larly wired to func­tion in 140 char­ac­ters or fewer? In­tel­li­gence “sources” pro­vided me with in­ter­cepts of these thoughts, with ac­tual Trump Twit­ter ex­cla­ma­tions: Pharaoh, 1446 B.C.: “Is­raelites had to come up with story as to why they were en­slaved so long and so badly (400 years) so they made up a story — GOD. Fake news!” Priam, king of Troy, 1200 B.C.: “Cas­san­dra says the horse shouldn’t come in the city gates. She’s been los­ing so long she doesn’t know how to win. Not me!” Julius Cae­sar, 44 B.C.: “Do you be­lieve it? Wife had bad dream, says I can’t go to Se­nate be­cause I will be mur­dered. Ridicu­lous and will be over­turned!” Napoleon, 1812: “My so-called ad­vis­ers warn­ing of famine, dysen­tery, ty­phus if I in­vade Rus­sia. Lies! Only em­bold­ens the enemy!” Don­ner Party, 1846: “FAKE NEWS re­ports, fab­ri­cated deal, say­ing un­safe to take short­cut through the Sierra Ne­vadas in win­ter. Very dis­hon­est!” White House press sec­re­tary, 1865: “The pres­i­dent saw a great show at Ford’s Theatre last night, packed house, long stand­ing ova­tions, amaz­ing peo­ple. WIN!” Ge­orge Custer, 1876: “Leaks say we will be over­whelmed at Lit­tle Bighorn. Real scan­dal is clas­si­fied info is il­le­gally given out like candy. Very un-Amer­i­can!” Ed­ward Smith, 1912: “‘In­tel­li­gence’ from made-up ‘sources’ says there are ice­bergs. But fake news me­dia re­fuses to men­tion my ship is un­sink­able. Politics!” Franklin D. Roo­sevelt, 1933: “I in­her­ited a mess. At home and abroad, a mess. I just want to let you know, I in­her­ited a mess. A hor­ri­ble mess! Bad!” Win­ston Churchill, 1940: “Ger­many is for­mally PUT ON NO­TICE for in­vad­ing France. Big trou­ble! If some­thing hap­pens, blame the courts. A lot of bad dudes out there!” John F. Kennedy, 1961: “Bay of Pigs was a win­ning mis­sion (ac­cord­ing to SecDef Mc­Na­mara), not a ‘fail­ure.’ Time for the U.S. to get smart and start win­ning again!” Ge­orge W. Bush, 2005: “The lev­ees held. The fake news me­dia is go­ing crazy with its con­spir­acy the­o­ries and blind ha­tred. Ter­ri­ble!”

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