Trump stomps on his Twitter megaphone

The president’s assault on social media for daring to fact-check him is a reminder: He will take everything down with him.

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An old-style brown megaphone on display at the Chicago History Museum.

Trump’s Twitter megaphone can’t be mounted on a wall like this one, on display at the Chicago History Museum. It’s from the Mary A. Gregory, the last two-masted schooner to sail out of the port of Chicago.

Neil Steinberg/Sun-Times

It is the complaining I shall miss the most.

The whining.

I almost added “the grumbling.” But Donald Trump does not “grumble,” not the low, corner-of-the-mouth, suppressed muttering implied by the term. No, his every grievance is an air horn two inches from your nose: “BLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!!!!!!!”

Opinion bug


I’ll miss that.

And by “miss” I don’t mean, “wish back.” God no. But “notice it’s gone.” That delicious moment when the endless beep-beep-beep of a truck backing up nearby just suddenly ... stops. 

The steady drumbeat — no, drumroll, rat-tat-tat-tat — makes pausing at a single cavil a challenge. While you carefully consider one, three more are fired off. It’s nonstop, exhausting, the drip-drip-drip of norm-shattering psychopathology.

Did I call them drips? Make that a firehose — high pressure, the nozzle flinging itself about, water jetting in all directions. You can’t drink from it.

But you have to try, occasionally, despite the soaking. Because some Trump gripes are more significant than others.

His lashing out at Twitter this week is worth getting water-logged to address. Because it shows just what a nihilistic, “Top of the world, Ma!” ending we can expect should he somehow lose the election in November. No gentle going into that good night, not for The Donald.

It started Tuesday, with a lie he’s been repeating a lot:

There is NO WAY (ZERO!) that Mail-In Ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent. Mail boxes will be robbed, ballots will be forged & even illegally printed out & fraudulently signed. The Governor of California is sending Ballots to millions of people, anyone.....

Republican invocation of voter fraud is itself a fraud. The GOP takes an insignificant problem and pretends it is widespread in order to suppress Democratic votes and undercut trust in the electoral process that increasingly disfavors their shrinking base of angry, fact-averse white folks.

Twitter, in a flash of boldness, posted a link below Trump’s dishonest tweet: “Get the facts about mail-in ballots.” Not a flashing red “THIS IS A LIE!” Just a little back door to the truth for those who might still care.

I’m not sure who the fact-checking is intended for. By now, you either already know or never will.

No one cries like a bully. And Trump fell to the floor, thrashing and clawing at himself, tweeting:

Republicans feel that Social Media Platforms totally silence conservatives voices. We will strongly regulate, or close them down, before we can ever allow this to happen....

The “close them down” part shocked most, a raw totalitarian impulse. Trump would be our king. 

But what drove me to memorialize this, to dip a cupped hand into the torrent and save a few drops in a teacup outside of time, is “totally silence.” One fact-check totally silences him, and his party.

You have to marvel. Trump complains the way Michael Jordan dunked: aerobatic, masterful, pausing in air to change hands. It’s a wonder to behold.

Trump is going after the election, setting the stage for his putsch in case he loses. He may not be the chess master his fans consider him to be, but he is a genius at foreshadowing, at getting a head start on grousing. The prodigy who starts whining “It’s not FAIR!!!” 15 minutes before his mom announces it’s time for bed. Trump will have been hammering at the electoral process for six months before the first ballot is cast.

Trump assaulting Twitter is both expected and astounding. Twitter is the horse that Trump rode in on. A constant barrage to his 80 million followers, without filter, without media or handlers. Trump straight, the undiluted toxic blend of complaints, lies, threats and braggadocio that his followers lap up because ... well, who knows? Makes them feel alive, I guess. 

Even as I write this, it’s outdated. His executive order trying to strip legal immunity from social media explodes like a star flare Thursday, illuminating a key truth: Trump will take everything down with him. If his megaphone crackles, he tosses it to the ground and jumps on it. Why the biggest baby ever acting like a baby should still amaze is a mystery. Perhaps responsibility requires reaction. Your infant spits up, you don’t sigh “he does that a lot” and just sit there, nodding at the mess. You run, grab a towel and try to clean it up, even though more is sure to come.

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