As always, Jonah Goldberg shows his concerns are in the right place with his latest piece for the LA Times (“Trump can’t lead by tweet”). It’s about Donald Trump’s Twitter habits, and how it’s problematic—wait for it—because it leaves Republicans wondering whether they’re on the same page. Not because, you know, he’s an unhinged lunatic who could cause unmitigated damage in 140 characters or less while he’s on the toilet.
The president-elect often emphasizes the value of being “unpredictable.” And he has a point — in certain contexts. Keeping our enemies guessing has advantages.
You know a better way to do this? Not tweeting.
(Funnily enough, I’m not sure Jonah considered the juxtaposition of that last sentence against the next one: “Defenders of Trump’s habit of jabbing corporations about their offshoring decisions will tell you that Trump is “setting the tone from the top.”” sounds like he’s saying corporations are our enemies, not a very ‘principled conservative-y’ thing to say.)
Except for trade policy, there are few areas where Trump’s troops have a clear idea of exactly what the boss wants, and his compulsive tweeting adds a layer of unpredictability. I’ve talked to half a dozen committed and principled conservatives considering jobs in the administration, and I heard one recurring concern: “Will Trump have my back?”
To reiterate, Jonah’s concerned that ‘principled conservatives’ can’t know whether Trump supports their policies because his use of Twitter is unpredictable, and that that’s the real concern when it comes to Trump’s tweets. Is he concerned when Trump’s response to preliminary reports of his allegedly deep engagement with Russia—which may or may not include him pissing on a prostitute and colluding with Russian entities well before the election—looks like this?:
Now, to be fair to Jonah, these tweets came after his article was published. But it changes nothing. This is not the first time Trump has had a meltdown on Twitter because he felt slighted. This particular meltdown is aimed at media (specifically CNN) and the intelligence communities, one of which is supposed to at least nominally be his ally.
And I don’t understand how Jonah or any of the ‘principled conservatives’ he talked to can only now see that Trump is unpredictable. I mean, Jonah was part of that whole super-effective #NeverTrump movement that is now trying to figure out how to bill Trump as a conservative since they can’t yet denounce him as a liberal (or whatever BS line they’ll concoct once they realize they can get away with not taking responsibility of him). Trump has switched stances in the middle of sentences, and conservatives are only now fretting that maybe Trump isn’t 100% on their side?
The problem isn’t that conservatives can’t tell whether Trump supports their policies because he sends contradictory tweets—Goldberg cites the Republican move to move the Office of Congressional Ethics under complete Republican rule as an example—it’s that his Twitter account, of all the stupid things, has a level of power the likes of which we can’t yet be fully aware of, and yet Trump wields it cavalierly without a second thought, sending out any vitriolic rant that comes to him while he’s not attending intelligence briefings. But that’s not Jonah’s concern. His concern is about shoving a conservative agenda down America’s throat. It’d be nice if Trump would tweet he’s on board with it.