This year, Donald Trump has been running the first true Twitter presidential campaign. As the New York Times's Michael Barbaro wrote on Monday, he's using the platform "as a tool of political promotion, distraction, score-settling and attack" — distributing his message, or whatever the hell else is on his mind, in short bursts for free.
Trump has gone far beyond what other politicians or campaigns have done and developed his own unique Twitter style. The Trumpiest tweets have some combination of braggadocio about the billionaire's supposed awesomeness, personal and petty insults aimed at people he's feuding with, and disciplined recitation of campaign talking points — with some bizarre, unpredictable, offensive, or factually inaccurate twist. All of that has to be packed into a mere 140 characters.
So we're going to periodically check in and evaluate how Trump's latest Twitter efforts are going — by rating selected tweets of his on a scale of "one Trump" to "five Trumps." Now, a rating of "five Trumps" should not be construed as an endorsement of these tweets. Instead, it is an impartial metric of their Trumpiness level. Read on for the first ratings.
Trump insults and perhaps defames Erick Erickson of RedState
Wow, great news! I hear @EWErickson of Red State was fired like a dog. If you read his tweets, you'll understand why. Just doesn't have IT!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 8, 2015
Trump tweeted insults at several people or groups he was feuding with this week — Politico, political consultant Stuart Stevens, the Club for Growth — but this one, aimed at Erick Erickson of the conservative website RedState, rises above the rest and is easily the Trumpiest of the week.
The diss tweet — the latest salvo in a months-long feud that started back in August when Erickson disinvited Trump from a RedState gathering due to his sexist comments about Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly — features some genuine-sounding enthusiasm ("Wow, great news!") and a gratuitous personal putdown ("just doesn't have IT!"). It also appears to be factually inaccurate, which is often the case with Trump — Erickson says he wasn't fired and has called the tweet "defamatory."
But the real difference-maker here is Trump's use of the bizarre phrase "fired like a dog." Can dogs be fired? Does Donald Trump fire his dogs due to poor performance? Is it because they don't love him enough? This tweet leaves the reader with all of these intriguing questions, and for that reason, it earns the coveted five-Trump rating.
Trump tweets about the House speaker election
Great, Kevin McCarthy drops out of SPEAKER race. We need a really smart and really tough person to take over this very important job!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 8, 2015
The details of legislative politics are not Trump's strong suit. When he first heard that John Boehner planned to resign the speakership and was asked who should replace him, Trump attempted to disguise his ignorance by saying, "They probably have four or five good choices," but refusing to name any.
Accordingly, this tweet is a perfunctory effort from Trump — one might even call it "low-energy." The random capitalization of "SPEAKER" is only mildly bizarre. A Trumpier tweet would have tried to claim personal credit for McCarthy's downfall, even though he obviously had nothing to do with it (Trump did just that at a later campaign event). Or perhaps he could have included a more direct personal insult at someone, anyone. So my view is that this tweet fell short of its Trump-y potential, and I award it a mere one Trump.
Trump brags that "many Hispanics" love him
Just leaving Las Vegas. Unbelievable crowd! Many Hispanics who love me and I love them! https://t.co/t7hzDV9wEr— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 8, 2015
There are no insults here, but this is a pretty Trump-y tweet all the same. There's the bragging about his crowd size, which is common by now. But more importantly, Trump makes a racially tinged remark about "Hispanics" that bears a close resemblance to his extremely awkward 2011 statement that he has "a great relationship with the blacks." The tweet also advances a campaign talking point — Trump's bonkers, alternate-reality assertion that he'll "win the Latino vote" despite his slurs against Mexican immigrants. As such, it's sufficiently bold and self-impressed to earn the rating of three Trumps.
Trump preps for a poll party
Heading to a packed house in Waterloo, Iowa! Will celebrate today's great poll numbers together. See you soon!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 7, 2015
Most politicians pretend they're above such grubby things as polls — but not Donald Trump. He constantly measures the worth of himself and his rivals by whether they're "winners" or "losers" in the latest numbers. So of course Trump would consider a campaign rally an occasion to "celebrate today's great poll numbers." This tweet could only be made Trumpier by adding a gratuitous insult or a related boast about his TV ratings. As it is, it merits an impressive four-Trump rating.