Imagine for a moment that you're an aspiring presidential candidate. Okay, well, let's say it's kind of unclear how seriously you take the whole idea. But for one reason or another, you really want to look like you're going to run in 2016. What's a great way to convince people otherwise? How about you follow the lead of theoretical 2016 also-ran Donald Trump, whose offensive Baltimore tweets prove he's not ready for the intense scrutiny of a political campaign — in this writer's humble opinion, at least.
This is, I admit, not a very daring assessment. But as Trump's been making more and more noise about this (he claims he's already made up his mind, and will announce his decision in June or July), it's worth considering what demands might be placed on him by a savvy campaign staff if he launched a legitimate run for the White House. For example: maybe give the Twitter rage a break?
Here's what I'm talking about. On Monday night, as peace came unmoored in West Baltimore (amid protests of the still officially unexplained death of Freddie Gray), Trump decided to do, well, the last thing any presidential candidate would want to — he leveraged the chaos to make an explicitly racialized attack on President Obama.
In fairness, it shouldn't come as much surprise to see Trump come up tone-deaf and worse on the subject of race in America — and especially race in regards to Obama. This, after all, is the same man who decided to embark on a bizarre, inflammatory embrace of the birther movement during his brief 2011 pseudo-campaign.
But, more to the point, his tweets are practically a masterclass on how not to broach a hugely complex, upsetting, and volatile situation on Twitter. Here's an example of how Trump might've come across a little better, courtesy of a real, declared candidate for 2016.
See? A comprehensive, appropriately nuanced tweet. Sure, it won't please everyone — maybe it'll seem a little hedge-y for some, and the people who've been most vocally demagogic about the violent response last night will probably consider it insufficiently muscular. But it isn't using a high-profile flashpoint to make a cheap, race-based attack against a sitting President, and that's a start, at least.
Trump's conclusion that he'd "fix it real fast" is also pretty characteristic — this is the same man, you may recall, whose plan to stabilize low oil prices was to tell OPEC "you're not going to raise that f**king price." Diplomacy never looks easier, it seems, than when you're not the one in charge.
This isn't a problem just contained in his Baltimore tweets, either — he has an incredibly robust history of prickly, potentially quite problematic tweets in his history, the kind of stuff that anybody building an opposition research file would have a field day with. In short, should he actually, truly decide to run for any length of time, it's altogether likely that social media barbs like these will get an awful lot of play.
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