Did Trump tweet too far this time?

The Washington Post Sunday - - SUNDAY OPINION - KATH­LEEN PARKER kath­leen­parker@wash­post.com

For months, Trump watch­ers have won­dered: What will it take? Mean­ing: What would fi­nally force Repub­li­cans to face the fact, so ob­vi­ous to so many, that Pres­i­dent Trump isn’t quite right? Not in the cor­rect sense but in the head sense.

The an­swer, ap­par­ently, is Mika Brzezin­ski of MSNBC’s “Morn­ing Joe.”

“This is not nor­mal,” peo­ple are fi­nally say­ing in re­sponse to Trump’s lat­est Twit­ter at­tacks in which the pres­i­dent of the United States lim­boed un­der his own low bar and chas­tised Brzezin­ski and co-an­chor/ fi­ance Joe Scar­bor­ough with his usual knuckle-drag­ging flair. Ap­ply­ing his 140-char­ac­ter at­ten­tion span, he squibbed:

“I heard poorly rated @Morn­ing_Joe speaks badly of me (don’t watch any­more). Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psy­cho Joe, came to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year’s Eve, and in­sisted on join­ing me. She was bleed­ing badly from a face-lift. I said no!” Clas­sic Trump. This prob­a­bly isn’t the way Brzezin­ski would have pre­ferred things to go, but in Trump’s ver­nac­u­lar, she’s been cruisin’ for a bruisin’ for a long time. That is, she’s been call­ing out The Don­ald with ev­ery­thing but an en­graved in­vi­ta­tion to duel at dawn.

And, high time, I might add. For months dur­ing the early part of Trump’s cam­paign, “MoJo,” as the show is nick­named, was a wel­come sta­tion for the celebrity fir­ing squad. Around Wash­ing­ton, peo­ple had be­gun re­fer­ring to the morn­ing man­fest, where Brzezin­ski gamely serves as re­luc­tant den mother, as “Morn­ing Trump.” This was also the pe­riod when then-can­di­date Trump con­stantly bragged that he hadn’t spent any money on ad­ver­tis­ing — and no one won­dered why. He reg­u­larly called in to the show, es­sen­tially run­ning his cam­paign from Trump Tower.

Trump had am­ple cov­er­age else­where as well. When your strength is brand­ing and your name is the brand, there’s lit­tle chal­lenge to get­ting air­time. Cable television an­chors and pro­duc­ers not only be­came Trump’s un­paid mar­keters but also bear some of the re­spon­si­bil­ity/blame for Trump’s elec­tion. Then, things got strange. Trump won. Then Trump be­came even odder than usual, even ac­cord­ing to his friends and oth­ers in­clined to like him. Al­ways fiercely com­pet­i­tive, ob­vi­ously, as well as flawed, Trump nev­er­the­less was able to con­trol his worst im­pulses be­fore be­com­ing pres­i­dent, Scar­bor­ough and Brzezin­ski co-wrote in a Post op-ed Fri­day.

Or, per­haps, some­thing is ac­tu­ally wrong with the guy. Plenty of physi­cians, psy­chi­a­trists and psy­chol­o­gists think so and have writ­ten me vol­umes in off-the-record di­ag­noses. A group of them have joined forces to co-write a book due out this fall.

It isn’t so much that The Don­ald al­ways hits back, and harder, as his flacks boast. It’s that he’s so thin­skinned, such a po­lit­i­cal am­a­teur — and so ut­terly lack­ing in the fine art of dis­re­gard — that he can’t let any­thing pass. This is the sin­gle great­est con­cern for the wit­ted, not his id­i­otic tweets in the night. Im­pul­siv­ity com­bined with nar­cis­sis­tic in­jury is a red flag to many for the man with ac­cess to the nu­clear codes.

And so, as more and more Amer­i­cans em­brace “This is not nor­mal” as the bumper sticker du jour, many are won­der­ing again: Will this be it? Will the fi­nal straw be Brzezin­ski’s al­leged badly bleed­ing face-lift, which she need­lessly de­nied in the op-ed? She only tweaked some skin be­neath the chin, she said. CNN’s Brian Stel­ter, mean­while, has posted a photo of Brzezin­ski on the day in ques­tion and she shows no ev­i­dence of surgery and cer­tainly not blood. What woman has a face-lift and goes bleed­ing to a fa­mous club where tout le beau monde are par­ty­ing?

To the point, is this it? My friends, don’t count on it.

Noth­ing will hap­pen un­til GOP con­stituents start shout­ing and, re­mem­ber, th­ese are the same peo­ple Trump has taught to hate the me­dia. Also, this is hardly the worst ex­am­ple of Trump’s er­rant charm. Yet, sud­denly, his in­sult­ing Brzezin­ski, widely char­ac­ter­ized as ev­i­dence of misog­yny (what about “Psy­cho Joe”?), is sup­posed to send con­gres­sional Repub­li­cans into parox­ysms of pen­i­ten­tial re­buke-and-re­place?

Brzezin­ski is won­der woman — smart, strong, wealthy — and en­gaged to marry her best friend. I se­ri­ously doubt she has been wounded by Trump’s pa­thetic sec­ond-grader taunts. But I get it. The most one can hope for th­ese days is that enough Repub­li­can men can be shamed into de­fend­ing Brzezin­ski, a woman many of them know per­son­ally — and who has thumbs-down power over po­ten­tial guests on the show every­body in Wash­ing­ton watches.

What­ever works.

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