Micek: Tweeter in Chief

John L. Micek
John Micek, editorial and opinions editor for PennLive/The Patriot-News.

It's 3 a.m. and Donald Trump can't sleep.

Restless, he tosses back and forth between Egyptian cotton sheets. The sweat builds on his forehead. His teeth grind. A tinpot dictator in some far-flung land has made a joke about his hands.

The rage builds. He reaches for the phone glowing silently on the nightstand. In the darkness, Melania reaches out to steady his (perfectly adequately sized, he thinks) hand.

"Don't do it," she warns. "You'll regret it."

But she's already too late. His deeply tanned face flushes crimson red with fury.

The anger fills him until it's an unstoppable firestorm. He grabs the phone, swipes right, finds the app, and taps madly at the screen. Sweet release.

But it's not enough. The tweets pour out of him as the demons find voice.

An hour later, the bombs start to fall.

If you're thinking that's just a fever dream, think again.

The next Leader of the Free World, who has just weeks to fill his administration and assemble a new government, set Twitter alight once again on Sunday, to repeat a widely debunked claim that millions of people "illegally" voted for Hillary Clinton and to mock a growing push for a recount in three battleground states.

You'd think that Trump, who's facing a mutiny by campaign manager Kellyanne Conway and who is contending with "Apprentice"-style jockeying for his Secretary of State pick, would have better things to do than to take to Twitter to excoriate the decision by Clinton's campaign to participate in a planned recount in Wisconsin.

"Hillary Clinton conceded the election when she called me just prior to the victory speech and after the results were in. Nothing will change," Trump tweeted, of the recount spearheaded by Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein.

Trump's regurgitation of the fraud claim, proffered by such paranoia-traffickers as InfoWars, added another layer of uncertainty to the already chaotic post-election environment.

Whether the recount push will actually be successful and result in any material change in the election results seems remote at best.

But Trump's most recent Twitter storm is also occasion for again taking up a question first raised during the campaign.

If this is how he reacts to a minor slight to his prestige and titanic ego, how will he react when he's seriously tested by crisis?

What happens when some foreign leader, possessed of exactly the right amount of bravado and snark, actually provokes him or takes action against American interests abroad?

Do we get Donald the Deal-Maker or The Incredible Trump, who turns big and green, smashing all in his path?

An object lesson, then:

No one in their right mind should mourn the passing of former Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, who died Friday at 90 after outlasting 11 U.S. presidents and repeated American attempts to drive him from power. He was a murderer and a despot, and the world is well quit of him.

But there's a difference between diplomatically noting someone's passing and grave-dancing, which is unbecoming from anyone, not least the leader of the world's greatest democracy.

"Fidel Castro is dead!" he tweeted.

Oh well.

In a normal universe, foreign policy is too delicate and nuanced to conduct in 140-character bursts.

As we've been reminded time and again since Donald J. Trump sprung, fully formed from the head of some god with a warped sense of humor, onto the American political landscape last June, these are not normal times.

"If Cuba is unwilling to make a better deal for the Cuban people, the Cuban/American people and the U.S. as a whole, I will terminate deal," Trump tweeted on Monday morning.

The context-less Tweet appears to be a reference to Trump's campaign-season vow to reverse the Obama administration's warming of relations between Cuba and the United States.

In the wake of Castro's death, Trump released a statement saying his incoming administration would do "all it can" to improve the plight of Cuba and its people.

Or, it might not. Who can tell?

International relations are far too important a subject area to be conducted by someone whose ego bruises at the drop of a hat.

And that makes the search for a competent and credible Secretary of State deserving of something far better than the sideshow treatment that it's currently receiving.

Unfortunately, it's just another day in Trumpland, where we are now required to check Twitter daily to find out if we've just insulted our way into an international incident.

John Micek is the opinion editor and political columnist for PennLive/The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa. Follow him on Twitter @ByJohnLMicek.