Of the 25 hardest jobs the world, the position of President of the United States is listed at #20.[i] But if you ask John Dickerson he would disagree with this ranking. In the May 2018 issue of The Atlantic, Dickerson calls POTUS “the” hardest job in the world.[ii] With its ever-expanding responsibilities, 327 million citizens to represent, 2.1 million federal employees and four trillion dollar budget can anyone dispute Dickerson’s claim. And when you add to that the eight major responsibilities of the president as:(1) chief of state, (2) chief executive, (3) chief administrator, (4) chief diplomat, (5) commander in chief, (6) chief legislator, (7) party chief, and (8) chiefcitizen, the President’s plate is pretty full.
And while there may be some disagreement about which job is more difficult, few would argue the fact that no one person has more world influence than the President of the United States. Every decision a president makes, whether they like it or not, will have a ripple effect far beyond themselves and each choice can impact the nation or world socially, economically, politically and morally. Because of this, it behooves us to be concerned about how the president uses that kind of influence. It raises serious questions about the president, his priorities and the issues that warrant his attention each day. As such, it is reasonable for Americans to expect its president to be extremely judicious, cautious and wise in what will occupy his time. This raises serious questions about the President’s use of twitter and the content of his tweets.
Personally, I believe President Trump has revolutionized the way that national figures communicate with the American citizens and has completely eliminated the press as the conduit of information between the politician and the people. Whatever you want to call it, with his use of twitter the president has dismantled and undressed the press by reaching the general public directly with his tweets and in so doing, bypassed the news media completely. In my view the press still has not recovered and a significant segment of the population no longer relies upon the 4thEstate as its gatekeeper for information on politics.
With that said, in my humble opinion, the issues that should gain our greatest concern is the frequency and content of the president’s tweets, and what it says about how he uses his time. On an average day the president tweets between 11-12 times. That averages out to about 4,178 tweets per year.[iii] During his first year in office, from January 20, 2017, to January 19, 2018 President Trump sent out 2,548 tweets according to the Trump Twitter Archive.
Have you followed the content of the president’s tweets? He has engaged in back and forth jousts with various critics from the news media, the entertainment world, to sports figures and league issues, to politicians, etc., etc. He has given his personal critique of various television programs and/or performers. He has engaged in hurling insults at those whom he deems his “enemies” or “critics.” He has used his tweets to insight racial and immigrant insensitivities. There seems to be no topic that is off limits as subject matter for his tweets from the sublime to the ridiculous. And every now and then some public policy issue will make his tweets.
His latest attack zeroed in on LeBron James and Don Lemon, and the inauguration of the I-Promise public school that James was instrumental in opening. While some have pointed out the derogatory racist and sexist remarks that the president has consistently directed towards non-whites and women in challenging their intelligence; my focus is somewhat different.
I wonder why it is that few seem to ever question the president’s stewardship. Can anyone justify the amount of time the president spends tweeting about the topics, personal diatribes, conflicts, obsessions and biases that he publicly discusses and what it says about how he does his job? Can anyone at any job, no matter what job it may be, engage in the amount of tweeting that the president engages in, about topics that have nothing to do with his/her job and remain employed?
What does the president’s tweets say about how he spends his day? Who has time to watch interviews with Don Lemon? Do you? Has it cross anyone’s mind to question how President Trump spends his day? Is he in the West-wing with 20 screens watching TV all day? The president has at times called into some television programs to respond to certain issues when his name has been mentioned in the discussion. Is this what we elect a president to do? To spend his day responding to every criticism leveled against him on television or social media?
My final point, think for one moment of what American’s would be doing or saying if Barack Obama spent one scintilla of time tweeting during his presidency about the issues, subjects, people and personal conflicts that President Trump has engaged in. Think of what Fox News, Trumps main cheerleader, would be doing if Obama were doing this amount of tweeting.
I wish I had a job where I could spend my day tweeting all day long…Don’t you…
[ii]Dickerson, John, The Hardest Job in the World, theatlantic.com, May 2018.