President Trump's Twitter feed on a computer screen in Washington on April 3, 2017. (J. David Ake/AP)

While he was watching “Fox and Friends” on Tuesday morning, President Trump offered some thoughts on Twitter. He weighed in on Judaism and the Democratic Party; he quoted a guy who was disparaging the idea of climate change.

Then the program turned to the recent crashes of Boeing jets, and Trump’s attention was similarly rerouted.

“Airplanes are becoming far too complex to fly,” he tweeted. “Pilots are no longer needed, but rather computer scientists from MIT. I see it all the time in many products. Always seeking to go one unnecessary step further, when often old and simpler is far better. Split second decisions are . . . ”

Are . . . what?

Minutes passed. What came next? Split decisions are good? Are dangerous? Are Democrats? What?

Twelve minutes later, he completed the thought.

“ . . . needed, and the complexity creates danger. All of this for great cost yet very little gain. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want Albert Einstein to be my pilot. I want great flying professionals that are allowed to easily and quickly take control of a plane!”

There is a lot going on in the world. There are wars, there are countries in crisis, there are new innovations and crumbling industries. There is famine, poverty, unheard-of wealth, births, deaths, celebrations and tragedies. There are, in U.S. politics, new budget proposals, congressional votes and a newborn 2020 presidential race. All of that is important and fascinating and deserving of thought and consideration.

But I must take a timeout for a few minutes and, at last, address an issue that has been nagging at me for months. Why on Earth does it take Trump so long to continue his thoughts on Twitter?

Why did that Albert Einstein riff take 12 minutes to post? It is a couple dozen words, ostensibly continuing a thought Trump was already having. If he used up the full Twitter character limit, it would have taken him two-and-a-half seconds to type each letter to expend 12 minutes on the tweet. What was the delay? Did someone interrupt? Was he simply choosing his words carefully? What’s the explanation?

This is not at all uncommon. On average since he was inaugurated, Trump’s chained tweets (where one that ends with an ellipsis is followed by one that begins with an ellipsis) have come about six-and-a-half minutes apart. He has done this 345 times.


(Philip Bump/The Washington Post)

In December 2017, Twitter introduced a formal way of threading tweets, which Trump usually does not deploy. But he is not the only one who uses his account, and you can see where others started introducing threaded tweets, which can be composed in advance. See those gaps, starting above the "3″ in “345 continued tweets”? Those are the ones that are dropped all at once.

If you exclude those, it takes Trump an average of more than eight minutes to complete his thoughts.

The longest gaps came last year. It took more than 40 minutes to continue this thought.

It took more than 50 minutes to finish this one.

Why? I don’t know why. I don’t understand why.

It gets worse. There are also times when Trump threads one tweet after another after another. Sometimes those are ones that are threaded using the Twitter tool and all post basically at once. Often, though, they aren’t.


(Philip Bump/The Washington Post)

Excluding the ones that are composed using the Twitter tool, these back-to-back-to-back tweets take 20 minutes to compose.

Last December, though, Trump twice spent more than 45 minutes putting together Twitter threads. One was an extended complaint about the Russia investigation that lasted nearly an hour over four tweets. The other was about immigration.

This is the president who bragged Monday about calling Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, “Tim Apple” because it saved him time. Twenty-four hours later, he spent 12 minutes putting together a tweet about how airline pilots should not have to have the intelligence of the creator of the theory of relativity to fly an airplane.

Again, there is a lot going on in the world that is far more important than this, even including that the president is spending any time at all weighing in on the sophistication of airline cockpits based on something he saw on Fox News. But it does make one wonder if perhaps his daily executive time might be a bit briefer if less time were spent drafting his tweets.