We can't help becoming numbed by time and frequency to President Donald Trump's sub-juvenile conduct.
Many will support this man-child no matter what, either enjoying or overlooking his infantility. Others simply lack the capacity for the full bursts of outrage that his recurring behavior justifies. They ration their outrage. They give themselves time off.
It's important, though, that from time to time we subject ourselves to a reminder of the preposterousness of this presidency in attitudinal and behavioral terms, beyond the performance of the economy or the state of international affairs.
That this second-place president is a childish brat is a matter for vital occasional re-chronicling. That's especially important for those not on Twitter who go through their days without ever seeing what this president can't get through a day without posting.
On Sunday, Trump took to Twitter to express the depth of his hurt feelings and petty resentment that Fox News, his own personal network, had interviewed Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg and that its interviewer, Chris Wallace, had made complimentary remarks about the young mayor of South Bend, Ind.
Wallace had said that, whatever you make of Buttigieg's views, the young man has an impressive resume and a richness of substance.
So the following is your president speaking, via Twitter, a bit after noon, uncorrected from the form in which the threat-maker of the free world composed: "Hard to believe that Fox News is wasting airtime on Mayor Pete, as Chris Wallace likes to call him. Fox is moving more and more to the losing (wrong) side in covering the Dems. They got dumped from the Democrats boring debates, and they just want in. They forgot the people who got them there. Chris Wallace said, 'I actually think, whether you like his opinions or not, that Mayor Pete has a lot of substance ... fascinating biography.' Gee, he never speaks well of me--I like Mike Wallace better ... and Alfred E. Newman will never be President."
Trump refers to Chris Wallace's dad, Mike, in the present tense, though Mike is departed now. And Trump means to make fun of Buttigieg's appearance, which is very adult of him, by calling him Alfred E. Neuman, meaning the longtime mascot and cover boy of Mad Magazine, not Newman.
But the more revealing element is not the misspelling or the faux pas or that Trump bothers himself in the first place about a Fox interview with a Democratic presidential candidate polling in single digits. It's that Trump responds to Wallace's compliment for Buttigieg by tweeting: "Gee, he never speaks well of me."
Jealous, much? Suck thumb, much?
I call Trump's behavior sub-juvenile because it's not elementary playground level, but detention-hall level. He doesn't get to play with others because he doesn't play well with others. It is thus an insult to our average juveniles to suggest that this president is at all like them.
More seriously, Trump also tweeted on Sunday, "If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!"
The first problem is the exclamation point. Either your words exclaim themselves or they don't. A president tweeting a war threat is self-exclaiming.
The second seeming problem is that there was no clear predicate at the time for that threat.
A missile believed to have been fired from the east had landed in Baghdad near the U.S. Embassy. Maybe Trump had evidence of Iranian complicity. But is a Sunday-afternoon tweet threat the best or right way for an American president to respond to that information?
And that's not even the best question. More relevant--or curious--is whether bluster from America's Brat-in-Chief ever amounts to anything.
Consider that, on Sunday, Trump tweeted to warn Iran never to threaten America again or it would face its "end."
So let's go back to July 22 of last year, when Donald the Menace tweeted as follows: "To Iranian President Rouhani: Never ever threaten the United States again or you will suffer consequences the likes of which few throughout history have ever suffered before."
That one was in all caps, which meant Trump really, really meant it.
America needs a president who can be taken seriously--unless the one it's burdened with temporarily is unworthy of being taken seriously, in which case we just roll our eyes and pray.
John Brummett, whose column appears regularly in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, is a member of the Arkansas Writers' Hall of Fame. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his @johnbrummett Twitter feed.
Editorial on 05/22/2019
Print Headline: An insult to juveniles