With boorish facelift and wrestling tweets, Trump is his own worst enemy
UPDATE Monday: Somewhat inevitably, the controversy over Donald Trump's facelift tweet has been eclipsed by another outlandish post by the president.
Overnight, Mr Trump posted a tweet modified from a WrestleMania clip. It shows him wrestling a figure with a CNN logo over his head to the ground, then punching him.
The president's fans will delight in the fact that's he's doubled-down on his online antics rather than made any apology.
But my broader point still stands: he's offending and alienating Republicans in Congress at the very time he needs their support to get his stalled legislative agenda back up and running.
Given he enjoys Republican majorities in the House and Senate, it doesn't matter what CNN says or does. Mr Trump only has himself to blame that he can't get his healthcare reform through, or get past Go on tax reform.
His antics are hugely entertaining for his base, but also a complete waste of the president's time, and only put his agenda even further behind and off-track. He needs to win over elected Republicans. Instead, they're lining up on social media to condemn him (see below).
And as for CNN, it just got tens of millions in free publicity.
I heard poorly rated @Morning_Joe speaks badly of me (don't watch anymore). Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came..— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 29, 2017
...to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year's Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 29, 2017
It’s hard to see why US president Donald Trump made such an offensive tweet against MSBNC’s Mika Brzezinski.
Did he not have anything better to do at 9am on a Wednesday morning?
Did he see any point in extending a feud with a liberal broadcaster, who is only ever preaching to the converted?
And did he see any benefit from it inevitably prompting the press digging up his greatest hits (the “grab them by the pussy” quip, his note telling New York Times columnist Gail Collins she had the “face of a pig,” his post-debate comment that Megyn Kelly had “blood coming out of her wherever” and so forth).
But it’s easy to see the effect.
He offended key Republicans and made them doubt his judgment, at a delicate time in his (still almost entirely stalled) efforts to push through his legislative agenda.
Even if you see Trump’s tweets as politically incorrect rambunctiousness that should be celebrated (I don’t), they only delay, distract and divide his own party, inhibiting his ability to get any substantial bill passed.
And, of course, it’s Trump’s inability to get the Republican majorities in the House and Senate onside that is his real problem, not the liberal media that can only carp from the sidelines.
Conservative Republican senator Lindsey Graham lamented:
Mr. President, your tweet was beneath the office and represents what is wrong with American politics, not the greatness of America.— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) June 29, 2017
Moderate Republican senator Susan Collins pitched in:
This has to stop – we all have a job – 3 branches of gov’t and media. We don’t have to get along, but we must show respect and civility.— Sen. Susan Collins (@SenatorCollins) June 29, 2017
And Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan weighed in that, "Obviously I don't see that as an appropriate comment. What we're trying to do around here is improve the tone, the civility of the debate. And this obviously doesn't help do that."
Too many other Republicans pitched in to list here, but here are another two Republican senators tweets to give you a flavour:
@POTUS, do you want to be remembered for your tweets or your accomplishments?— Sen. Lisa Murkowski (@lisamurkowski) June 29, 2017
Please just stop. This isn't normal and it's beneath the dignity of your office.— Ben Sasse (@BenSasse) June 29, 2017
Mr Trump has survived far worse, and no doubt even by the end of the weekend we'll be on to the next mini-scandal.
But at a time when Republicans only have a majority of two in the Senate – where healthcare reform is stalled, in turn holding up tax reform and the president's first budget – it doesn't help. What worked so well on the campaign trail has Trump bogged down in DC.
As for Ms Brzezinski, who along with co-host Joe Scarborough, immediately got an avalanche of free publicity, and doubtless more viewers – she probably can't believe her luck.
It's also hard to see the rationale behind Trump's drive on "voter fraud," beyond his vanity being offended that he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton.
No one is challenging the legitimacy of his Electoral College win.
More than 20 states, including a number of heavily Republican states, are refusing to hand over the detailed, multi-year data, requested by Trump's voter fraud panel. It's invasive of privacy, and a huge logistical hassle to collect.
And there is no evidence of mass voter fraud (unsurprisingly; it's a crime with next-to-no payoff for the individuals who would be involved but high fines). Other Republicans just haven't seen it as an issue.
It's another sideshow, with Trump wasting his own time.