How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017
One of the many things setting President Trump apart from his predecessors is his use (or, perhaps, abuse) of Twitter.
The 45th president uses his social-media soapbox to take his message directly to 27 million followers, blasting out an unfiltered stream of consciousness on everything from sporting events (“Tom Brady, Bob Kraft and Coach B are total winners. Wow!") to the day's legislative agenda (“Big day for healthcare. Working hard!").
As the examples above demonstrate, Trump has developed a distinct social-media syntax involving short sentences and punchy punctuation. One of the defining characteristics of a Trump tweet is the exclamation point, often delivered at the end of a one- or two-word utterance.
Consider this: Between Jan. 20 and March 31, the @realDonaldTrump account published 357 tweets. Nearly 60 percent of those tweets contained an exclamation point!
Compare that with tweets published over the same time period in the prior year by Trump's predecessor, @BarackObama. Obama published tweets at just one-tenth the rate of Trump — 37 of them over that period. Only eight of those tweets, or 22 percent of them, contained an exclamation point.
Most of Obama's exclamation points appeared in tweets congratulating other people. He welcomed astronaut Scott Kelly back to Earth, honored scientific discoveries and invited to the White House a high school student who aced the AP Calculus exam.
Trump's exclamation points, by contrast, frequently appear in insults (“FAKE NEWS!"), threats (“I will send in the Feds!") and complaints (“If the people of our great country could only see how viciously and inaccurately my administration is covered by certain media!").
Nine of Trump's exclamation points appeared at the end of the one-word sentence “Enjoy!", inviting people to watch various media appearances (“I will be interviewed by @TheBrodyFile on @CBNNews tonight at 11pm. Enjoy!").
Trump has tweeted the sentence “Jobs!” on 10 separate occasions, sometimes multiple times in a row (“JOBS! JOBS! JOBS!"). He has tweeted variations of "#MAGA!” or “Make America Great Again!” 13 times.
Trump's exclamation points also have accompanied decades-old cultural references ("NOT!"), cryptic exhortations (“EASY D!") and straight-up falsehoods (“President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election!").
But in one small way, Trump has altered his Twitter style since taking office. He used to frequently send out tweets containing two (!!), three(!!!), four (!!!!) and up to 15 (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) exclamation points at a time. That practice, interestingly enough, came screeching to a halt January 20, suggesting, perhaps, a conscious effort to tone down the exuberance and appear more “presidential.”
The chart below shows tallies from Trump's entire Twitter career, which began May 4, 2009, with, appropriately enough, an exclamation point.
Many voters and political allies of Trump see his Twitter habit as a liability. Seventy percent of voters, including 45 percent of Republicans, view his Twitter use as "reckless and distracting.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is “not a fan of the daily tweets.”
Trump himself foresaw these difficulties. Less than a year ago, he told supporters he'd stop tweeting once he became president.
“You know, I tweeted today, @realDonaldTrump. I tweet,” he told a crowd in Warwick, R.I. “Don’t worry, I’ll give it up after I’m president. We won’t tweet anymore. I don’t know. Not presidential.”
Below, I've compiled every sentence ending in an exclamation point tweeted out by Trump since Jan. 20. Enjoy!