I configured Twitter a couple of weeks ago to get text alerts on my phone whenever President Trump tweets.
Now any moment of tranquility can be pierced by his random outbursts.
I awake from a restful night to see: “Iran has been formally PUT ON NOTICE for firing a ballistic missile. Should have been thankful for the terrible deal the U.S. made with them!”
I’m pruning in the back yard on a Sunday afternoon and feel a vibration in my pocket: “Just cannot believe a judge would put our country in such peril. If something happens blame him and court system. People pouring in. Bad!”
I’m commuting to work when I suddenly see: “The Democrats had to come up with a story as to why they lost the election, and so badly (306), so they made up a story — RUSSIA. Fake news!”
The eruptions follow a similar pattern of dubious statement followed by exclamation:
“Our hero Ryan died on a winning mission (according to General Mattis), not a ‘failure.’ Time for the U.S. to get smart and start winning again!”
“Had a great meeting at CIA Headquarters yesterday, packed house, paid great respect to Wall, long standing ovations, amazing people. WIN!”
“The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!”
But it turns out that this may not be just the way the president tweets. It may be the way he thinks.
Ricocheting at his news conference Thursday afternoon from topic to unrelated topic and back again, Trump sounded like a walking ad for Ritalin. But pay close attention, and you realize his brain is actually scrolling through its own internal Twitter feed. Most thoughts are dispensed with in 140 characters or fewer. I followed Trump’s tweet-think during Thursday’s rambling news conference:
“I see stories of chaos — chaos. Yet it is the exact opposite. This administration is running like a fine-tuned machine!” (119 characters).
“People came out and voted like they’ve never seen before,” he said of his 306 electoral votes. “I guess it was the biggest Electoral College win since Ronald Reagan!” (126 and, in case you were wondering, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush all exceeded 306 electoral votes — five times in all).
“You can talk all you want about Russia, which was all … fake news, fabricated deal, to try and make up for the loss of the Democrats!” (137).
“The leaks are absolutely real. The news is fake — because so much of the news is fake!” (86).
How, I wondered, would history have turned out if those who came before us had their brains similarly wired to function in 140 characters or fewer? Intelligence “sources” provided me with intercepts of these thoughts, with actual Trump Twitter exclamations:
Pharaoh, 1446 B.C.: “Israelites had to come up with story as to why they were enslaved so long and so badly (400 years) so they made up a story — GOD. Fake news!”
Priam, king of Troy, 1200 B.C.: “Cassandra says the horse shouldn’t come in the city gates. She’s been losing so long she doesn’t know how to win. Not me!”
Julius Caesar, 44 B.C.: “Do you believe it? Wife had bad dream, says I can’t go to Senate because I will be murdered. Ridiculous and will be overturned!”
Napoleon, 1812: “My so-called advisers warning of famine, dysentery, typhus if I invade Russia. Lies! Only emboldens the enemy!”
Donner Party, 1846: “FAKE NEWS reports, fabricated deal, saying unsafe to take shortcut through the Sierra Nevadas in winter. Very dishonest!”
White House press secretary, 1865: “The president saw a great show at Ford’s Theatre last night, packed house, long standing ovations, amazing people. WIN!”
George Custer, 1876: “Leaks say we will be overwhelmed at Little Bighorn. Real scandal is classified info is illegally given out like candy. Very un-American!”
Edward Smith, 1912: “‘Intelligence’ from made-up ‘sources’ says there are icebergs. But fake news media refuses to mention my ship is unsinkable. Politics!”
Franklin Roosevelt, 1933: “I inherited a mess. At home and abroad, a mess. I just want to let you know, I inherited a mess. A horrible mess! Bad!”
Winston Churchill, 1940: “Germany is formally PUT ON NOTICE for invading France. Big trouble! If something happens, blame the courts. A lot of bad dudes out there!”
John F. Kennedy, 1961: “Bay of Pigs was a winning mission (according to SecDef McNamara), not a ‘failure.’ Time for the U.S. to get smart and start winning again!”
George W. Bush, 2005: “The levees held. The fake news media is going crazy with its conspiracy theories and blind hatred. Terrible!”
Follow Dana Milbank on Twitter, @Milbank.