Why should there be a problem if a president wanted to use Twitter instead of some other media to make an announcement, change or clarify policy, or even pick a fight. Is it so different from making a speech?
Yes, it’s different, and, yes, it’s a problem.
First of all, you have only 140 characters to say your piece. Can you really make international policy in 140 characters? Can you even use full words? Is there any room for nuance? Can you avoid ambiguity? No, no, no, and no. But it’s perfect for someone with a limited attention span.
Second, if you make a speech, you have a speech writer. You have editors. You make second and third drafts. You pass it by your advisers. You vet your points and choose your words carefully, particularly on foreign policy matters. With Twitter, none of this happens. Got a brilliant idea while sitting on the toilet? Tweet! Perfect for someone who is impulsive and always right.
Third, not only don’t you have to consult with others before tweeting, you don’t have to answer any questions after tweeting. Or if you do choose to answer questions, you can say it was a joke or you were misunderstood or it was locker room talk or you were speaking as an entertainer and not as an official or they started it or whatever. And you do it on Fox”news”. It’s the opposite of a press conference where people try to pin you down and hold you to what you’ve said before. Twitter is a one-way medium if you want it to be. Perfect for someone who likes to make proclamations and give orders, but can’t take in any information.
Trump has given no press conferences since the election, but has often tweeted, even about matters that should be the domain of the president, not the president-elect.
He got himself (and, therefore all of us) in hot water by accepting a call from the president of Taiwan. Then someone apparently told him that we’ve had a one-China policy for fifty years, and the Chinese regard Taiwan as a province (where all the Nationalists fled after the 1949 revolution).
Of course, Trump can never be wrong, so let the tweeting begin. Trump doubles down, as always, and says the one-China policy is in play unless we get a better “deal”, blah blah blah. Goes on TV (Fox of course) talking about North Korea and a lot of other stuff he obviously just heard about five minutes ago.
But he’s not dealing with Low-energy Jeb or Little Marco or Lyin’ Ted or Crooked Hillary here. China’s Global Times newspaper called him an ignorant child (should have said man-baby IMO) and said “The ‘one China’ policy cannot be bought and sold. Trump, it seems, only understands business and believes that everything has a price and that if he is strong enough he can buy and sell by force”. They said a “real crisis” would ensue if Trump kept this up.
I don’t see a good way out here. Maybe the China tiff will fizzle. I hope so. But no one is going to take away the man-baby’s Twitter now. They tried it once a couple of days before the election, but it didn’t “take”.
We’re in trouble.