What Are We to Make of Our Tweeting President?

By Michael Brown Published on January 7, 2017

On January 6, just two weeks before his historic inauguration as president, at 2:30 PM, Donald Trump sent out this tweet in the aftermath of the horrific slaughter at the Fort Lauderdale, Florida airport. It was presidential in tone and content:

“Monitoring the terrible situation in Florida. Just spoke to Governor Scott. Thoughts and prayers for all. Stay safe!”

A few hours earlier, he sent out this tweet, mixing the presidential with the personal:

“I am asking the chairs of the House and Senate committees to investigate top secret intelligence shared with NBC prior to me seeing it.”

A few hours before that, the president-elect tweeted out these messages about Arnold Schwarzenegger, his successor at Celebrity Apprentice, sounding like a reality TV star and even referring to himself as “the ratings machine” (and remember, this is just two weeks before his inauguration):

That, in a nutshell, is a picture of our incoming president: working tirelessly, interacting with government leaders, expressing deep concern about the plight of American citizens, and tweeting like an enfant terrible.

“Wow, the ratings are in and Arnold Schwarzenegger got ‘swamped’ (or destroyed) by comparison to the ratings machine, DJT. So much for….

“being a movie star-and that was season 1 compared to season 14. Now compare him to my season 1. But who cares, he supported Kasich & Hillary.”

That, in a nutshell, is a picture of our incoming president: working tirelessly, interacting with government leaders, expressing deep concern about the plight of American citizens, and tweeting like an enfant terrible.

Don’t expect any of this to change any time soon.

Some Trump supporters imagined that the closer Trump got to the presidency, the more presidential he would become, and these personality-driven, ego-centric sounding tweets would become a thing of the past.

Apparently not.

More than 18 months of campaigning didn’t change this; winning the Republication nomination didn’t change this; winning the presidency didn’t change this; assembling a cabinet didn’t change this; interacting with international leaders didn’t change this; the sobering thought of his soon-coming office didn’t change this; it’s unlikely to think that sitting in the Oval Office will change this.

At the same time, it’s clear that he knows how to act presidentially when the occasion calls for it, which is why various international leaders came away positively impressed after meeting with him, even before he won the election. And it’s abundantly clear that he knows how to wield presidential authority.

What this means is simple: When it comes to President-elect Trump, he is who he is and what you see is what you get, which is why many people voted for him. The last thing they expect — or want — is for him to change. He is a man for the people and a man of the people, and for his most ardent supporters, his very rough edges are as attractive as his very strong convictions.

For others, though, all this is a cause for real concern.

Will his tweets further exacerbate the ever-deepening divisions in our society?

Will they provoke some of America’s most unstable enemies?

Will they make our nation a laughing-stock to the world?

At best, won’t his tweets diminish the office of the president? At worst, could they set off a nuclear conflagration?

These are valid questions, and I understand why some Americans are concerned. (As for the hysterical fears of what this purported madman will do to other Americans — “He is Hitler!” – that’s another thing entirely and not worthy of serious discussion.)

What We Should Hope and Pray For With Trump

What we should hope and pray for is this.

First, that he will continue to make solid presidential decisions, as in who he appoints to different key positions and nominates to the Supreme Court, and as in what agenda items get top priority.

Second, that the more he serves as president, the more he will feel the weight of the presidency, deepening his sense of sobriety and even driving him to his knees in prayer.

Third, that he will take things less and less personally — after all, he’s about to be the most powerful man on the planet; that should satisfy anyone’s ego — and that the overwhelming theme of his messaging would be the American people rather than himself. So, while we shouldn’t expect his personal tweeting to go away, we can hope for a moderation in tone.

Fourth, that Americans will get used to the fact that this president will be different than any president we’ve had before and some things might never be the same. Therefore, we shouldn’t react to every eccentric tweet, nor should we write off the potential power of his presidency.

As for those Christians who are fervently praying for real evidence of a true conversion experience in Donald Trump, keep praying. Nothing would be more wonderful than that, just as it would have been wonderful to have seen evidence of a true conversion in the life of President Obama (for whom we should still pray).

All things are possible to him who believes (Mark 9:23; Luke 1:37), so let’s really pray for Mr. Trump.

Our incoming, very-gifted, very-controversial, lightning-rod of a president – the tweeting president – certainly needs our prayers.

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