Politics & Policy

The Corner

Tweet On, Mr. President

For a year, many people have urged President Trump to stop tweeting. Many of these people are his supporters, or at least his defenders.

Among conservatives, of course, there is a diversity of reaction to Trump’s tweets. Some people think they are raw genius. Pearls, if a little rough. Other people are aghast at the tweets.

Americans deserve to know what the president is thinking — what his mind and nature are. Trump reveals this through his tweets (as many of us do, I suppose).

Last week, the president gave an interview to Mike Schmidt of the New York Times. He was unfiltered, without staffers. And the interview gave us an excellent look at the president’s mind and nature.

He gives few press conferences, of the formal kind. In fact, in all of 2017, he gave just one: one solo press conference (that is, a press conference without a fellow head of state or government). By contrast, Obama gave seven in his first year, and Bush the Elder gave a whopping 27.

Trump’s press conference was in February, and, as to his tweets, the reaction to it was varied. Wildly. Bill Bennett, appearing on Fox & Friends, called the press conference “a tour de force by the president.” Other people thought that Trump confirmed spectacularly his unfitness for the office. Different people, different eyes. Different minds.

As a journalist, I encourage talking and candor from our top officials, especially the president. In fact, I liked this sort of thing long before I became a journalist. These days, however, I hear some journalists say, “Shut up, Mr. President” — which is odd.

I think I know why some of Trump’s defenders want him to shut up. They believe that his talking, his tweeting, makes him harder to defend. Pas devant les enfants, goes an old expression. (“Not in front of the children.”) How about Pas devant les adultes?

There are people who want Trump to be largely tangential to his presidency. Let Mattis, Nikki, Betsy, and other wonderful people do their wonderful things; let Ryan ’n’ Mitch handle legislation. All will be well. I understand this point of view entirely. But you can’t have a Trump presidency without Trump. You can’t have your cake and eat it too.

Some of Trump’s supporters and defenders are actually insulting to him, I believe. They believe that, like a child, he ought to have his phone taken away. I say again that people ought to know the thoughts of the president. And to hear him in his own voice.

“Let Reagan be Reagan,” we used to say. (This came from “Let Poland be Poland,” which was a cry of the early ’80s.) Likewise, let Trump be Trump — and let you be you, and me be me.

Tweet on, Mr. President. And as you well know, it was you who got elected president, not anyone else, neither friend nor foe nor in between. See you online.

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