Donald Trump’s love affair with Twitter is renowned. Since he joined the platform in March 2009, he has tweeted tens of thousands of times, with at least 17,000 of these coming after his 2015 announcement that he would seek the presidency. Trump’s Twitter feed has been a place to boast, an arena to engage in feuds with celebrities and political opponents, a means to threaten foreign nations, and a venue to advertise his political beliefs. Perhaps most importantly, Twitter allowed Trump to reach out to his base directly, without intrusion from what he would surely consider to be the poisoning mediation of mainstream news outlets.
Through Twitter, Trump could reach the people without ever having to worry about those pesky journalists who might seek to add context to his rants. Furthermore, his tweets served as a distraction tactic, diverting attention away from any subject matter that could potentially damage him politically. Research has shown that this strategy works, with his tweets often successfully shifting media coverage away from potentially harmful topics.
Whilst Twitter may have proved highly useful for Donald Trump, the love-affair had undoubtedly turned sour by the end of his presidency. In the summer of 2020, when Trump unleashed his conspiracy about the mail-in-ballots being fraudulent, Twitter began placing fact-checking tags on his tweets. Thus began a new feud on Twitter, this time with the platform itself. It was as though a drunk in a bar, having fought everybody else, turned on the barman who had served him.
After Trump lost the 2020 election, his rants about the election became ever more unhinged and (usually, of course, via Twitter) he set about systematically undermining the legitimacy of the election result. The social media company responded by promptly tagging each and every tweet he posted alleging that the poll was rigged. Trump, who for years had seemed to have a free reign on Twitter, breaking numerous rules on multiple occasions, was now being told “enough is enough”. To return to the bar room analogy, Trump had become too drunk and the barman was now cutting him off.
What had been a beautiful love affair between man and machine had descended into acrimony, not unlike the vast majority of Donald Trump’s actual human relationships perhaps. After Trump’s tweets played an important part of inciting the violent attack upon the Capitol Building in Washington D.C, the divorce was finalized. Citing its rules about incitement to violence, Twitter belatedly called last orders on Donald Trump and his account was permanently disabled.
As an obituary for his recently deceased Twitter account, and without further ado, here is Donald Trump’s Top Ten (un)Presidential Tweets.
10. Won’t Somebody Think of the Colluders?
Donald Trump was plagued by the “Russiagate” conspiracy theory since day one of his presidency, and he frequently tweeted about the supposed “witch hunt” that hounded him. But few have evidently spared a thought for starry-eyed idealists such as Paul Manafort and Mike Flynn who traveled to the big city with optimistic plans to “Make America Great Again”, only to have their dreams shattered due to facing unfair scrutiny for, of all things, their shady dealings with Russia. Thankfully, Trump’s tweet served to remind us who the true victims are.
9. Chaotic Energy
Most organisations prefer not to have a high turnover of staff. Trump’s White House was different however, with his human resources policy seeming to have been largely carried over from his time served as host of The Apprentice. One estimate put the turnover of senior positions in the White House at 91%, which in most normal organisations would lead to absolute chaos. But Trump’s team, of course, was not a normal organisation and therefore the constant firings were merely “great Energy!”. This tweet combines many of Trump’s Twitter Tropes; for example, a reference to “Fake News”, capitalization of words, one-word sentences (“Wrong!”), and of course, self-aggrandizement.
8. Stop Tweeting Then
Short and sweet, and with a powerful message of empathy from our hero, this tweet was aimed at the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, of whom Trump was demanding the immediate release of their vaccine for Covid-19. “Get the dam vaccines out NOW!” another similarly-timed tweet read.
Did Trump really want to prevent deaths? The plea to save lives was perhaps a little late in the day given that Trump’s negligence had already contributed to hundreds of thousands of Covid-related deaths. Trump’s apparent new-found respect for the sanctity of life was also undermined by his post-election blood lust. The president shockingly embarked on an unprecedented and vindictive spree of federal executions, meaning that the total annual number of federal executions surpassed that of the state level for the first time ever in 2020. The last lame-duck president to execute a prisoner was in 1889.
7. Prevarication or Annihilation?
Donald Trump simply conducted diplomacy differently to other presidents. This tweet, one of many that threatened Iran with annihilation, demonstrated the president’s measured approach to international affairs, sounding on this occasion like some sort of blood-thirsty Assyrian emperor threatening the destruction of Babylon. There may, however, have been a secondary purpose to the tweet. The outburst came just a couple of days after the emergence of a taped recording of Trump’s fixer Michael Cohen discussing a payment of $150,000 to Playboy model Karen McDougal to buy her silence during the 2016 election. What better way to seize the narrative than produce this headline-grabbing, all-caps, example of a diplomatic masterclass?
6. Mine is Bigger than Yours
Iran was by no means the only foreign country Trump engaged in Twitter beefs with. Trump eventually lost interest in his on/off relationship with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un but while it lasted it was the source of much amusement and, at times, terror. This tweet — part dick-swinging contest/part apocalyptic showdown — fits neatly into both categories. Trump’s unhinged tweet gave us a timely reminder that history’s most destructive arsenal (as of 2019, the US possessed 6,185 nuclear warheads, enough to destroy worldwide civilization several times over) was at the disposal of history’s most idiotic leader.
5. A Very Stable Genius
Trump’s self-proclamation of genius came after much attention from the media about a new book that presented him and his administration in a very unfavorable light. Michael Wolff’s “Fire and Fury” portrayed the president as a mentally unstable individual who was beset with “wide-ranging ignorance”. Trump’s response was this garbled series of tweets aimed at the usual Trump bogeymen: the media, the Democrats, and of course “Crooked Hillary”, against whom Trump seemed to have extended the 2016 campaign throughout his entire presidency. Trump’s claim to being possessed of stability and genius elicited much amusement, naturally, due to the president having consistently demonstrated himself to be lacking in either trait.
4. Great and Unmatched Wisdom
In 2019 Trump withdrew US troops from Northern Syria, clearing the way for Turkey’s authoritarian ruler Recep Erdoğan to launch an invasion in order to crush his long-standing enemy — the Kurds. Trump faced harsh criticism for his abandonment of the Kurds, who had been crucial in the defeat of ISIS. In a seeming attempt to mitigate against Turkey’s inevitable invasion, Trump unleashed this two-tweet salvo. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Erdoğan was uncowed and promptly ordered Turkey’s army to invade Syria. The tweet is noteworthy for its unhinged nature, its intimation that Trump has, in the past, already obliterated the Turkish economy and for the phrase “in my great and unmatched wisdom”, which many likened to the self-proclaimed “great and powerful” Wizard of Oz. One Twitter user noted that “It is apt indeed to compare Trump to the Wizard of Oz — both are old men who lied and cheated their way into positions of power”.
3. Presidential Death Match
Trump battled Biden for the hearts and minds of Americans in 2020, a joust in which he was roundly defeated. But what if, instead of subjecting the nation to months of boring soundbites and inane political posturing, the two men simply went head-to-head in the ring, the future of the nation being decided by a bare-chested fight to the death? Trump clearly reckons he could take Biden but I’m not so sure. Sleepy Joe once claimed to have squared up to a blade-wielding gang leader known as “Corn Pop” who subsequently backed down. If the anecdote is true (and the story has been corroborated by other sources) it is doubtful that the outcome of the 2020 would be much altered by the new and exciting format. It is still likely, however, that Trump would refuse to concede. He would almost certainly tweet something like “BIDEN LOST THE FIGHT! THE CROOKED DEMS AND THER FAKE NEWS MEDIA HATE THAT I KEEP WINNING FIGHTS. WITCH HUNT!”
It might be unbecoming for a serious writer to revel in a politician and his wife falling ill to a potentially fatal virus. Still, there was a certain poetic justice to Trump’s diagnosis. Trump had spent most of 2020 denying the reality of Covid-19, denials which, given Trump’s cult-leader-like status for millions of Americans, had extremely serious and deadly consequences for the American people at large, particularly those most vulnerable. Just days prior to testing positive for the virus, he had debated Joe Biden and mocked him for wearing a face mask in public. So excuse me if I gain what little pleasure I can from this rare demonstration of karmic justice for Donald Trump. And besides, many Twitter uses felt the same way; this was Trump’s most-liked tweet of all time.
1. Most Covfefe Tweet Ever!
Just after midnight in Washington in May 2017, Donald Trump took out his phone and began composing yet another tirade against the media. This time, something distracted him. Did Eric and Don Jr get into a fight that required parental intervention? Did Trump’s food delivery (most likely a McDonald’s Happy Meal containing a cheeseburger and a large Coke) arrive at the White House thus distracting from the task at hand? Perhaps Kim Jong Un rang him up to discuss the differing sizes of their “buttons”. We will never know the truth. All we know is that Trump did not finish composing the tweet, perhaps instead depositing his iPhone into his presidential pocket where, inadvertently, a couple of extra letters were added and the send button was accidentally pressed. The rest is history.
The tweet, deleted a full six hours after its unleashing, sent Twitter into a furore, with tens of thousands of people speculating and joking about the true meaning of “covfefe”. The word soon became Twitter’s no.1 hashtag. Even the president got in on the act, light-heartedly tweeting “Who can figure out the true meaning of “covfefe” ??? Enjoy!”
Trump’s “covfefe” tweet is our number one choice for several reasons. It is undoubtedly Trump’s most famous tweet. It inspired countless memes, t-shirts, coffee mugs and posters. Covfefe even became law, with “The Communications Over Various Feeds Electronically for Engagement Act” (COVFEFE Act) amending the Presidential Records Act to mandate the archiving of the social media interactions of sitting presidents.
The new word, by now immortalized, perhaps serves as an apt metaphor for Trump’s political program— whether it was in the realm of economics, foreign policy, or justice, Trump would often pursue some political agenda before losing interest and abandoning it in favor of an entirely different endeavor.
Covfefe was also a welcome respite from Trump’s usual twitter offerings. Covfefe, like many of his tweets, captivated the masses. Yet it did so in a much more wholesome way than the usual offerings. Covfefe didn’t seek to threaten or belittle another nation. It wasn’t a seething hate-filled attack on a minority group. Covfefe didn’t call a female celebrity ugly or fat. Covfefe didn’t sow division or seek to remould reality. Hell, covfefe wasn’t even capitalised!
Covfefe was just…well, covfefe.