, 53 tweets, 30 min read Read on Twitter
(Thread) Two years into the Trump presidency, the velocity of the news coming out of the White House has been chaotic—with hundreds of norm-shattering moments that would have been unimaginable under most previous presidents, Republican or Democratic. bit.ly/2AK4pAa
So ahead of the second anniversary of the president’s inauguration, we’re releasing 50 essays by 50 renowned writers cataloging the most unthinkable moments. The results that follow are a nuanced, in-depth index. #TrumpUnthinkable
50/ In early 2017, a bizarre photo of a glowing orb illuminated the Trump presidency for what it is: “unbelievable, almost otherworldly naffness,” writes James Parker. And Trump “is in his element.” bit.ly/2AJnPoW
49/ @elainaplott comments that the resignation of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price—over his penchant for chartered flights at the taxpayers’ expense—seems almost quaint compared with the bombshells that have followed.
@elainaplott 48/ In 2017, Trump called the congressional candidate Greg Gianforte “my guy” after Gianforte “body-slammed” the Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs. Trump is “a bully,” writes @DavidAFrench, “and his fans love him for it.” bit.ly/2AMsvdU
47/ Sean Spicer’s inauguration-crowd-size claim quickly became an internet phenomenon—triggering fact-checks and viral side-by-side photos—but it was also oddly, absurdly prescient, writes @megangarber.
46/ After Trump’s 40-minute speech to Boy Scouts in 2017, @YAppelbaum remembers it as “such a breach of tradition and decorum that the chief scout executive rushed to apologize for the ‘political rhetoric that was inserted into the jamboree.’” bit.ly/2AM2OtK
@YAppelbaum 45/ In March 2018, former ExxonMobil CEO and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was fired via tweet, abruptly concluding his 13-month White House tenure. @yarabayoumy draws the connection between that moment and the ongoing erosion of diplomacy: bit.ly/2AJ260w
44/ Of the mysterious connection between Donald Trump and Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks, George Packer writes that “more than self-interest led to the embrace” of the two. bit.ly/2AItcVu
43/ After the deadliest gun massacre in U.S. history, Trump said, “What happened is, in many ways, a miracle. The police department, they’ve done such an incredible job.” @JamesFallows reflects on the president’s failure as consoler in chief: bit.ly/2AKHDZ3
42/ Trump spent his first full day as president in a meeting, falsely complaining (about an election that he won) that 3 million to 5 million illegal votes had been cast. @GrahamDavidA predicts more of the same for 2020. bit.ly/2ALEN6l
41/ Trump’s nomination of the respected meteorologist Kelvin Droegemeier for director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy came as a surprise, @EdYong209 reports—particularly after 19 months of delay and anti-science politics. bit.ly/2AV47XF
40/ Some things @SarahZhang wants you to know that Trump entrusts to his gastrointestinal system: the Fed’s monetary policy, how to vote in the midterm elections, how to end the trade war with China, and the legitimacy of Barack Obama’s birth certificate. bit.ly/2AEEn1t
@sarahzhang 39/ Trump and his enablers, warns @RadioFreeTom, “inoculated a huge swath of the American public against ever being informed about anything” by attacking countless authoritative sources. The president’s legacy will be a resistance to learning. bit.ly/2ALFnRz
38/ Additionally, “Trump has repeatedly proved himself a hypocrite when it comes to information security,” says @IanBogost. One winter evening at Mar-a-Lago in 2017, his treatment of sensitive documents in an unsecure area made this clear. bit.ly/2SVtpvy
37/ Other presidents have traveled for political means, but Trump’s homebody nature has “corresponded with a diminution in American influence abroad.” @VauhiniVara remembers the G20 summit that caught Trump saying, “Get me out of here.” bit.ly/2AJPkie
36/ @DavidFrum reminds us that in August 2018, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced that the administration would be withdrawing former CIA Director John Brennan’s security clearance—motivated explicitly by the president’s personal animus. bit.ly/2AMtJ90
35/ Despite Donald Trump’s many attempts to discredit the Mueller investigation, his “claims of persecution ring increasingly hollow with each indictment,” writes @ProfCiara. bit.ly/2AJ2IDm
34/ The United States is in the midst of No. 34 on our list: the longest government shutdown in history. Funding for the food-stamp program, on which more than 38 million Americans rely, will soon run out, reports @Saahil_Desai. bit.ly/2AK7osp
33/ That Chief Justice Roberts “felt compelled to take the step of publicly correcting the president suggests he believes Trump’s behavior threatens not just the authority of the Supreme Court but the viability of our political system,” writes @SStossel. bit.ly/2AM3Juc
32/ At his first press conference of the year, Donald Trump revisited a pet peeve of his: that the United States had been “taken advantage of by so many countries.” But he’s missing a fundamental understanding of what allyship means, observes @KoriSchake. bit.ly/2AGLtCn
31/ @EmilyBell contends that damage has been done to the press with the president’s general attitude of undermining journalists’ credibility—and his effect on press freedom has been “devastating.” bit.ly/2ALk0zI
@emilybell 30/ During the first two weeks of his time in the Oval Office, the president demonstrated his clear disinterest “in accepting accountability for the decisions he makes as the commander in chief” with three words, reasons @KgGilsinan: “They lost Ryan.” bit.ly/2AJQome
29/ A sudden trifecta of tweets from the president, on a Wednesday morning in July 2017, threw into question the lives and livelihoods of all active transgender service members. They remain in suspense, remarks @MThomps. bit.ly/2AHaNby
28/ Over the past two years, Trump has praised dictators and authoritarians such as:
1. Vladimir Putin
2. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
3. Rodrigo Duterte
4. Kim Jong Un
He also tweeted a Mussolini quote, @kcalamur writes. bit.ly/2AK6b4i
@kcalamur 27/ One particular incident of note between Trump and an authoritarian figure is the attack on Americans, on American soil, seemingly ordered by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Trump was silent. bit.ly/2AMuZsK
@kcalamur 26/ The CIA determined that the brutal murder of the U.S. resident Jamal Khashoggi was ordered by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Donald Trump decided not to publicly acknowledge this—because, @bbclysedoucet writes, of arms sales. bit.ly/2AJ4mow
25/ @yayitsrob warns that experts worry about Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, and the long-term consequences such as deterring investment in green tech, emboldening polluting countries, and eroding necessary trust for climate negotiations. bit.ly/2AJkdDE
@yayitsrob 24/ “Throughout his presidency, Trump has imparted a grim assessment of the country’s purpose and welfare,” writes @beccarosen, “but his darkest appraisals have been reserved for the situation America faces at its border.” bit.ly/2AJkgPQ
23/ Ivanka Trump is many things. Among them, according to @CaitlinPacific: “less powerful than she seemed … but still firmly wedged in there at the very center of whatever is going on in our strange, unpredictable, and increasingly dangerous White House.” bit.ly/2SVIttg
22/ Contrary to Trump’s initial response, the day the world laughed at the United States isn’t okay, according to @RachelDonadio, because “the joke is not just on Trump but on America.” bit.ly/2AK6MTA
21/ Veterans Day 2018 came and went, and Donald Trump’s failure to show up “reveals him for what he is,” asserts @EliotACohen—“unworthy of those in uniform who must regard him as their commander in chief.” bit.ly/2SU8jgW
20/ “It took all of two weeks for President Donald Trump to mount his first verbal assault on the federal judiciary,” @russellberman argues, and he’s “contributing to a shift in how the judiciary is perceived as an institution.” bit.ly/2AHdeLe
19/ The president’s March 16, 2018, Twitter celebration after Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe was fired is part of Trump’s ongoing war on the Department of Justice, @NatashaBertrand reports. bit.ly/2SUVhzO
@NatashaBertrand 18/ It’s astounding even now, two years into Donald Trump’s presidency, how many things he says on a daily basis that just aren’t true, writes @AngieHolan, the editor of @PolitiFact. bit.ly/2AHdpGo
17/ “When historians in the 22nd century search for the moment reality television was at its most influential, they may well pinpoint June 12, 2018,” claims @UriLF: the day Donald Trump became the first American leader to meet his North Korean counterpart. bit.ly/2ANtJW9
16/ The exit of former Secretary of Defense James Mattis became one of many, and underscored the president’s habit of humiliating “the ones who bring you shame, no matter what they’ve done for you (or the country),” @alexwagner laments: bit.ly/2AJvBiP
15/ The CIA’s fraught relationship with a president who harbors no such affinity for intellectual rigor and the truth was foretold from the very beginning, writes @LoebVernon, and it was highlighted by Trump’s visit to the agency’s hallowed Memorial Wall. bit.ly/2AJ5zfy
@LoebVernon 14/ There’s been frequent use of the phrase “constitutional crisis” throughout the Trump presidency. But “constitutional rot” may be more accurate, says @qjurecic. bit.ly/2ANoeH1
13/ Republicans on Capitol Hill had been trying to tread lightly with Brett Kavanaugh’s most prominent accuser, Christine Blasey Ford—but at a rally on October 2, 2018, Trump couldn’t help himself. @mckaycoppins sets the scene: bit.ly/2AKBDjb
12/ In January 2018, reports leaked that Donald Trump had asked, “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” @DrIbram reasons that it’s “evidence that [Trump] is more pro-white than anti-immigrant.” bit.ly/2AKLntz
11/ In 2017, Donald Trump “stared into the eye of the most lethal hurricane in a century,” writes @fivefifths—following the deaths of up to 3,000 Puerto Ricans—“and threw paper towels.” bit.ly/2STXED0
10/ Until recently, @Profepps believes, the gold standard for inappropriate presidential self-revelation was Richard Nixon. But a new record was set on June 4, 2018. bit.ly/2AM5kjG
9/ At 12:06 a.m. on May 31, 2017, “covfefe” happened, and no meme was left unsummoned. “In the annals of Trumpian tweeting, nothing compares to [it],” @AdrienneLaF reminisces. bit.ly/2STed29
8/ “Certain phrases … become part … of a presidency, particularly when they reveal glimpses of the person occupying the office,” remarks @sophieGG. Trump’s “horseface” tweet about Stormy Daniels “says more about Trump than anyone he might attach it to.” bit.ly/2ANgUuX
@sophieGG 7/ One week into his presidency, Donald Trump signed his “Muslim ban.” It “kept families separated, halted reunions, and interrupted journeys spurred by the most essential human needs.” Read @ethiopienne: bit.ly/2SUGEwn
6/ “The exact date I knew that Colin Kaepernick would never play in the NFL again was March 20, 2017,” remembers @jemelehill—the day of Trump’s Louisville, Kentucky, rally where he “weaponize[d] sports as a divisive political tool.” bit.ly/2AGNzCf
5/ The firing of James Comey on May 9, 2017, “would have been scandalous on its own,” writes @benjaminwittes. “What we now know is … it was a window into how President Donald Trump understands the role of federal law enforcement.” bit.ly/2AJrxyS
4/ Days after news broke that the FBI was investigating Donald Trump for possibly working as an agent of Russia, @FranklinFoer writes that “the collusion that is sitting in plain view is one of the worst scandals in American political history.” bit.ly/2ANgyo2
3/ Though the Trump Foundation is now dissolving, countless other potential conflicts of interest for Donald Trump remain—among them his hotels, investments, business interests, and personal brand. @AnnieLowrey put it all down in one place: bit.ly/2AKaAnT
2/ Trump’s response to Charlottesville, posits @AdamSerwer, laid the groundwork for the administration’s governing philosophy: “Extremism in pursuit of white power is no vice, and defending the rights of those who threaten that power is no virtue.” bit.ly/2AGO9Qr
1/ But the most devastating moment of Trump’s first two years in office is the enforcement of his border policy that separated some 700 children—many under the age of 4—from their parents. bit.ly/2AJn4MS
See the full list of stories here, or tweet using #TrumpUnthinkable with your reaction: bit.ly/2AK4pAa
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