Millions of words have been written about our commander-in-tweet and his penchant for sharing aggrieved, spit-flecked, 140-character insights, seriatim, at 4 a.m. There is so much material for journalists to mine in his Twitter feed that some truly revelatory things sometimes get overlooked. For example, it is possible I am the first to point out the astonishing gall involved in this recent tweet, from a man who will be costing the nation tens of millions of extra dollars a year because he lives in three different houses and does not cohabit with his spouse:
“The reason I am staying in Bedminster, N. J., a beautiful community, is that staying in NYC is much more expensive and disruptive. Meetings!”
The president is so irrepressible and irresponsible — it seems he’ll say anything — that a certain frisson went through the journalism world over a year ago when a couple of websites created archived databases of tweets Donald Trump deleted. How juicy might these tidbits be if they were so unwise even Trump rethought them? Alas, what soon became clear was that most of the deletions occurred because of a misspelling, and then were put back up, fixed. Journos mostly shrugged and walked away.
It was a mistake. There are lessons to be learned, even from Donald Trump’s misspellings.
Now, I am aware that the Internet has degraded the importance of spelling, and though I bluster and harrumph over that grave threat to Western civ, I get it. In the frenzy of instant communication, we all make dumb typos. Some of Trump’s are of the pedestrian type, such as using “principal” instead of “principle” or confusing “there” and “their.” And yes, he really may not know that it’s not spelled “politicion,” but let’s give him a break and call it a typo. Ditto “unpresidented.”
But other misspellings of his are far more interesting, and deserve to be catalogued and curated.
1. Errors of infantilism. Many of his misspellings are exactly those we all made as
8-year-olds, until we got it right by, say, 9. Examples, from the Trump files: “amoung,” “develope” and “rediculous.” Oddly, these are misspellings that auto-correct will instantly fix. Does he not use it? Does he override it when his petulant fifth-grade self assures him he is right?
2. Errors of cluelessness. Trump wrote the following: “I hear by demand a second investigation.” Apparently someone notified him that the adverb should be one word, not two, so he quickly deleted the tweet, and rewrote it as “I hearby demand …” Then he deleted that, and finally got it right.
3. Nominal errors. The man is bad at names, and not just ones where misspellings are completely excusable because the actual name involves idiot constructions, like “Dwyane” Wade and “Gennifer” Flowers. But Trump also mourned the death of “Phillies” Schlafly, the noted anti-feminist second baseman. He referred to the clearly male, bearded suspect in the Paris bombing as “Sarah Abdeslam.” Salah.
4. Errors of recidivism. Trump calls Marco Rubio a “leightweight chocker,” then corrects both words. A minute later he again refers to Marco as a “leightweight chocker,” then corrects it. The truth is beginning to sink in a little, because, finally, in his last tweet a few minutes later, he wrote of Rubio: “The problem is, he is a choker, and once a choker, always a chocker.”
And at last, pay dirt. Journalists had been looking for a deletion that wasn’t a simple misspelling, but a matter of regretting having said something bad, and here one seemed to be. On Feb. 17, Trump tweeted that the media was the “enemy of the American people,” singling out the “failing” New York Times, CNN and NBC News. It was a shocking tweet, almost fascist in its disdain for a free press, and he deleted it quickly. Finally, evidently, he had gone too far.
Then, 16 minutes later, the tweet reappeared. To the list of enemies of the American people, Trump had added ABC and CBS.
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