But the 16-year-old Thunberg is unlikely to chill until the planet starts doing the same. The president’s tweet tells us a lot we already know about our leader, from his empty bluster to his bullying (especially of women and, now, even girls) and his envy (especially of fame). Most of all, though, it tells us about his hypocrisy.
People probably remember how the White House went after a law professor last week for testifying to Congress that “while the president can name his son Barron, he can’t make him a baron.” The first lady’s listless campaign to “be best” on the Internet came to convenient life for the occasion, and political operations sprung into action. Even a presidential reelection spokeswoman had something to say about the “crazed liberals” content to “drag a 13-year-old child into the impeachment nonsense.”
All this for the sin of saying the kid’s name in a sentence. Now, what about the crazed conservative publicly calling his followers to arms for a blitzkrieg against a different kid days later? And, now that you mention kids, what about far more serious trauma inflicted on those in cages at the border?
But let Barron be, really. The eighth-grade boy deserves the shield he’s getting from his Republican guards. His half-siblings, however, are far older.
Trump is content to go after a figure who acts much more mature than her age while his own adult children remain hopelessly juvenile and in desperate need of parental supervision. Take the job security for his daughter Ivanka’s husband, Jared Kushner, which seems more linked to Ivanka Trump’s last name than his abilities. Or what about the president’s attempt to save her clothing brand as it collapsed under boycotting pressure from his political critics? How dare Nordstrom cancel the line “so unfairly” for its poor performance! “Go buy Ivanka’s stuff!” White House counselor Kellyanne Conway even said as much on Fox News in what she called “a free commercial.”
The president, by the way, would also like you to purchase Donald Trump Jr.’s book about the hatefulness of the left. The president, who does not read, “highly recommends” his son’s book “for ALL to read.” And, of course, when investigators (and commentators) came after Trump Jr. for organizing a meeting with a Russian lawyer who offered dirt on Hillary Clinton during the 2016 campaign, daddy defended “my son Don” against the “Fake News Media.”
Which brings me to the sheep.
Trump Jr. has become known for two things: his knack for self-owning and his love for killing animals. The intrepid outdoorsman ventured to the highlands of Mongolia last summer to hunt the argali, which is the largest sheep in the world with horns that can reach up to six feet in length, and is an endangered species that requires a special permit to shoot.
The government granted Junior this rare permission — after his trip had already ended, and after he had already slaughtered one of the prized creatures. The presidential scion even enjoyed a private meeting with the country’s president, Khaltmaagiin Battulga, before his flight home. What they talked about, no one will say.
The story encapsulates what’s so head-spinning about the president’s vendetta against a teenager. Trump Jr., apparently, should be sheltered from consequences as he travels around the world killing things, while Thunberg merits the opposite as she tries to keep the world from killing itself. Trump Jr. thinks himself entitled to everything around him, and his father agrees. The only thing Greta Thunberg thinks she’s entitled to is a future.
So that’s what it comes down to: President Trump, at every turn, shelters his children from the burden of living as adults in the world. Now, a 16-year-old kid in the world is acting like an adult. Trump’s instinct to snarl against her from behind his phone shows all of us who’s the biggest baby of all — and he’s not on the cover of Time magazine.