The first burn of the general election has been scored.
Donald Trump reacted to President Barack Obama endorsing Hillary Clinton on Thursday the same way he’s reacted to approximately 70 percent of developments this election cycle: He sent out a mocking tweet about it.
Obama just endorsed Crooked Hillary. He wants four more years of Obama—but nobody else does!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 9, 2016
Hillary Clinton — or rather, whatever set of staffers runs Hillary Clinton’s Twitter account — didn’t have to respond. But they did. And the reaction was, shall we say, yuuuge.
Delete your account. https://t.co/Oa92sncRQY
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) June 9, 2016
“Delete your account” is a pretty standard joke tweet, especially in political and media Twitter (which both the people writing “Hillary Clinton”‘s tweets, and the people reading them in the middle of a Thursday afternoon, are likely to be familiar with). But this is a well-executed iteration of it.
You don’t tweet “delete your account” in response to an outrageous or offensive tweet, because it’s not a serious demand. So many of the things that Trump tweets (or retweets) wouldn’t be appropriate targets. Rather, “delete your account” is used when someone has tried to be funny on Twitter — for example, by attempting to land a sick burn — and failed.
That’s a pretty good description of Trump’s tweet. “Crooked Hillary” was never his best nickname, and it’s not enough to carry a whole tweet. And the “nobody else does” joke, while it plays okay to his base, isn’t his strongest material — Obama is a pretty popular president, and way more people hate Clinton than hate Obama.
The other reason this is funny, of course, is that it might actually be a good idea for Donald Trump to delete his Twitter account.
Unlike Clinton’s professionally run, deliberately savvy, focus-tested-within-an-inch-of-its-life social media “voice” (a voice that sounds very little like the candidate herself), Trump’s Twitter feed is the purest distillation of Trump: mocking, shouty, and unable to let go of a slight. And it poses all the same liabilities for his campaign.
His insistence on writing all his tweets himself (which curiously disappears whenever he’s criticized for tweeting something objectionable) is a symptom of his broader problem of campaign management — he’s micromanaging his communications strategy while letting everything else go to seed — and, practically speaking, it’s a massive time-suck.
His repeated retweeting of anyone who praises him, even when they are obviously neo-Nazis, has certainly reinforced the idea that Donald Trump simply doesn’t have good judgment in people — and that he’s willing to indulge extremism among his followers because he’s too afraid of losing his support.
If he got off Twitter, his advisers wouldn’t have to worry that he will literally tweet out his running-mate announcement (which is seriously, I am not kidding, something they are worried about right now). And, perhaps most importantly, spending less time typing on his phone would save embarrassing injury to those famously stubby fingers.