In one of the memorable moments of Seinfeld, George Costanza is teased by a coworker during a meeting, and only after driving home does he think of what he believes would have been a sharp retort: “The jerk store called, and they are running out of you.” He goes to great lengths to try to recreate the moment a second time so he can use the comeback. Of course, it ends in spectacular failure.
We’ve all been there at some point. Missing our moment and only thinking of what we should have said or done after the fact. But typically we just let the moment pass. Today, Donald Trump took Costanza’s “jerk store” route.
In a Wednesday press conference, Trump announced a class action lawsuit against Facebook, Google, and Twitter against what he described as “censorship of the American people.” He boasted, “We’re going to hold Big Tech very accountable.”
But here’s the thing. As president and leader of the party with majority control of Congress, he had plenty of levers at his disposal to try and target Big Tech. He could have gone after them by issuing new regulations or pushing for an anti-trust case against them. To be clear, I do not believe it is the proper role of government to police bias among tech and social-media companies. But plenty of supporters who share his anger toward Big Tech were begging him to do something while he had the chance. But he didn’t.
So what’s happening now feels very much like a “jerk store” moment. Trump is promising to file what amounts to a frivolous lawsuit that will almost certainly fail, hoping to create the appearance of taking on Big Tech when nobody else will. Unfortunately for those who support his cause, he declined to do anything when it actually might have mattered.