A Galaxy Note 7 for the President, Please
Last year, when word leaked out that Apple would not be making major design changes to its iPhone 7, Samsung decided to rush to market a new phone with a serious redesign. In rushing the design, the phone forger famous for copying Apple designs failed to test the batteries. The phones caught fire.
Multiple airlines had passengers with combusting phones. It got to the point that flight attendants were telling passengers they were not allowed to have Note 7 phones onboard planes. Eventually, a factory that made the batteries for Samsung caught fire leading one writer to declare it the rare case a figurative garbage fire turned into a literal garbage fire. Samsung has still not quite recovered.
Perhaps the most prominent Samsung phone user in the world is the current leader of the free world, Donald Trump. Though he talks a great game about protectionism and American companies, he eschews the American company Apple for the Korean company Samsung in an effort to make Seoul great again. In the past few weeks, I have repeatedly wished President Trump might swap out his current phone for a Samsung Galaxy Note 7.
I have no wish for the president to get burned by a phone, but at his present rate of self-immolation, it might be preferable. The real reason for my wish, however, is that if the president gets a phone that self-destructs, the free world will finally be able to breathe a sigh of relief that he no longer has access to Twitter.
The single greatest thing President Trump could do to improve his presidency would be to stay off Twitter. There are times he has positively moved the needle on the medium. The media seems increasingly inclined to go down rabbit holes in pursuit of silver bullets to topple his administration. The president, with one tweet, can send the press corps scrambling. He can transcend media narratives, create his own and bypass the traditional press to get his message out in 140 characters.
I have applauded the president’s use of Twitter several times since his election. In the Pixar movie “Up,” one of the characters is a dog named Doug, who can speak due to a device around his neck. Doug would engage in rambling conversation with humans at a very fast rate then suddenly yell, “squirrel!” Squirrels constantly distracted him. President Trump’s tweets have turned the media into Doug.
Unfortunately, the president seems to be giving in to his worst instincts. Twenty-four hours after delivering a brilliant speech to Congress that could have set the conversation for the Sunday talk shows, President Trump melted down on Twitter. By that Sunday, instead of talking about his speech, the press was fixated on his tweets about Jeff Sessions and Russia.
Two weeks ago, President Trump set off a firestorm claiming President Obama had ordered him wiretapped. There is no evidence for that claim and even Republicans are dismissive of it. But it gave the media a chance to yet again portray him as petty, paranoid, and vindictive. When the House Intelligence Committee held a pubic hearing on the matter this past week, the media could juxtapose President Trump’s paranoid tweets with the testimony of both the head of the National Security Agency and FBI to show the president did not know what he was talking about.
The result is a president shooting himself in the foot, distracting his staff and putting his supporters and congressional Republicans on defense. They cannot focus on their own messages about the president’s agenda because they are busy dodging questions about his Twitter rants.
This situation is not sustainable, nor is it acceptable. Republicans believe the office of the president comes with some inherent dignity. President Trump is hurting that dignity and himself. Polling suggests white voters, white men, and Republicans are souring on the constant distractions and on the president himself.
If someone gave President Trump a Samsung Galaxy Note 7, it would probably self-destruct. The president would then be on a Twitter hiatus, which just might be the best thing for his presidency.
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