What Ever Happened to Donald Trump? – The Atlantic

Posted: April 17, 2021 at 12:11 pm

David A. Graham: The double bind of Trumps outrageous statements

An outburst over the weekendspeaking to a room of Republican officials and donors, Trump called the most powerful elected Republican in the nation a dumb son of a bitchunderscores his fade. The speech got some attention, but not much. The time when covfefe could consume the nation for days on end is, mercifully, past.

One common theory for Trumps disappearance is that his ban from Twitter (and other social-media sites) effectively knocked out his ability to reach a wide audience. With the Twitter account at his fingertips, he could blast whatever thought or diatribe was at the top of his mind to millions of followers; the press would dutifully report on the latest outrage and the discourse around it. Adding to the credibility of the theory, Trumps eclipse seemed to begin around January 8, when Twitter announced the ban.

Trump clearly misses the feeling of tweeting and getting immediate feedback. Hes taken to emailing statementssometimes several in a dayto reporters, presumably in the hopes that theyll tweet them, but its not the same. For one thing, freed from the constraints of 280 characters, he tends to ramble into the kind of incoherence manifested at his rallies. For another, sentiments that took on some comprehensibility in the churn of social media feel disembodied and nonsensical when they land in my inbox. (Why exactly is Trump sending this statement praising Stephen Miller? Did I miss something, or did he? Or both?)

David A. Graham: Trump is getting more desperateand more dangerous

But the Twitter theory has flaws, too. Trumps tweets could still make government officials quake, but they had already begun to lose their potency by 2019. Fewer people were responding to them, and Trumps attempts to make up for that decline by simply tweeting more often further diluted the effect. The nation seemed to grow blas (for better or worse) about the presidents most outrageous remarks.

Besides, someone of Trumps fame doesnt need a Twitter account. As an insurgent presidential candidate in 2015, Trump found that the account provided a useful way to drive the conversation, even though few journalists or politicians initially took his run seriously. But by the time he was president, Trump had plenty of other ways to commandeer media attention: press conferences, formal interviews, Oval Office addresses.

Although he sometimes eschewed these methods as presidenthe didnt give an Oval Office address until almost two years into his termhes now using the ones that remain available to him. For a period beginning after the January 6 coup attempt, Trump was uncharacteristically silent, apparently heeding the advice of aides who suggested that he should keep his head down while the Senate was still considering his impeachment. Since the Senate failed to convict, Trump has been more vocal. He has continued to make public remarks, including to the Republican National Committee gathering last weekend, and has given interviews to several of his favorite cable-news outlets. Hes also given at least a dozen interviews for books about his presidency. Trump could probably get more attention if he gave an interview to a more adversarial interviewerTrump with Jake Tapper or Mary Louise Kelly, or a rematch with Chris Wallace or Lesley Stahl would surely produce fireworksbut it wasnt that long ago that a call-in to Fox & Friends was plenty newsmaking on its own.

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What Ever Happened to Donald Trump? - The Atlantic

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