Christine wrote up the basics earlier, but this juvenile flare-up has dominated social media all day so far, so I supposed we have to discuss it a little further. The dynamics are exhaustingly familiar: Someone attacks the president, the president responds inappropriately, opponents of the president recoil in horror, and supporters of the president cheer him on for "fighting back." To be clear, under the rules of playground justice, MSNBC co-host Mika Brzezinski "started it" this morning by mocking Trump's fragile ego and remarking upon his "teensy" hands:
Trump -- who, I'll remind you, is the President of the United States of America -- responded as any president would: With a sad shake of the head, and a note to an aide about emailing Morning Joe producers lamenting petty attacks. Just kidding, he did this:
I do enjoy the conceit that he doesn't watch the show anymore, even though he's clearly reacting viscerally to something that was said about him on the show this morning. Also, it looks like he made up the whole face-lift thing, or at least the 'badly bleeding' part:
Apparently determined to keep the childish feud alive, news anchor returned to physical appearance-related trolling. The high road is apparently closed for construction these days. Meanwhile, First Lady's office, taking a moment away from their anti-online bullying campaign (!), had this to say:
And a White House spokesperson defended her boss by framing his tweets as 'pushing back' against attacks, or something. My interpretation of that spin is below:
Some elected Republicans have taken to Twitter to scold Trump over his undignified conduct, while even some devoted allies expressed frustration that he was derailing his own messaging on other important issues:
Honestly, if Mika Brzezinski had taken cheap potshots at private citizen/celebrity Donald Trump, his response would have been par for the course. Not laudable behavior, mind you, but expected, given Trump's approach to life. And holding up Brzezinski as some sort of victim here, after beckoning the president down into the gutter, is silly. She did start it. But Trump isn't in second grade; he is the president. Unfortunately, it is painfully obvious that he is temperamentally incapable of picking battles and transcending the noise. That's not going to change. This is who he is. He clearly doesn't understand the details of the healthcare bill he's asking the Senate to pass, yet when it comes to lobbing plastic surgery bombs at critical cable news hosts, he's all over it. This is the man we've elected.
If you want to defend him because you like his style, fine. But you have no standing to complain about standards of dignity, decorum or comportment in our political system ever again. For some, impulsive boorishness is a feature, not a bug. For others, this will be framed as a brilliant tactical move, deliberately designed to distract the media from [fill in the blank]. I recognize that this is often a popular theory, but I don't buy it. Trump isn't playing eight-dimensional chess, gang. He's playing checkers, and when he gets mad, he overturns the board. He's not terribly hard to figure out. Lastly, if you're of the mindset that these outbursts are counter-productive and immature, but hey, at least Hillary Clinton isn't making policy and selecting judges, welcome to the club. But being glad that somebody else didn't win an election does not require one to debase oneself by dismissing or defending (or celebrating) the indefensible. I'll leave you with this: