There is a lot to discover about the pending presidency of Donald Trump, but one thing seems certain – Trump has pounded the presidential bully pulpit into tweet shares.
Tweeting has proven to be an invaluable way for Trump to communicate directly to people. He is unlikely to surrender his smartphone when he takes over the desk in the Oval Office, especially in light of the response he gets.
His most recent tweet success was to chide House Republicans for proposing changes in ethics rules, which Trump warned would divert attention from more important political priorities. Trump’s tweet turned prophetic as controversy swirled over the proposed rules change, causing the House GOP caucus to reverse itself.
As Trump predicted, the kerfuffle over ethics overshadowed what congressional Republicans hoped would be a strong first-day impression of getting to work on making America great again.
Ford Motor Company’s decision to scrap an investment in Mexico and invest in a U.S. manufacturing facility instead prompted more Trump tweets, including one aimed directly at GM for its Mexican manufacturing facilities.
Earlier Trump tweets castigated the high cost of new Air Force One planes and prescription drugs. Boeing’s president showed up at Trump Tower to discuss ways to trim costs and the market read the tweet leaves and punished pharmaceutical stocks.
Trump also has aimed his tweet gun at China, an Indiana union leader, U.S. intelligence agencies and, in a New Year’s tweet, his political “enemies.”
For supporters, all this tweeting is Trump being Trump. For the news media, Trump’s tweeting has become a successful way to circumvent traditional news channels. For the targets of Trump’s tweets, it has become an uncomfortable moment in his rising sun.
When Trump actually takes office, his unorthodox style may frustrate his GOP colleagues in Congress who move in something slower than real-time. Congressional procedures, especially in the Senate, don’t accommodate rapid action, even if it is called for in a tweet from the most powerful man in the world.
The first test for the tweeter and the slowpokes will be repealing and replacing Obamacare. Day-one priority for both, but unlikely to happen that quickly for either. The inconvenient thing about laws is that it takes more than a tweet to repeal them and more than slogans to replace them.
What is clear, however, is that Trump can maintain his political momentum through tweeting, achieving successes here and there, while the wheels of Congress grind along on the agenda of the GOP majority. It will be interesting to see whether Trump’s tweet-inspired momentum can goad Congress into quicker action or just lead to frustration by congressional egos on Capitol Hill.
Gary Conkling is president and co-founder of CFM Strategic Communications, and he leads the firm's PR practice, specializing in crisis communications. He is a former journalist, who later worked on Capitol Hill and represented a major Oregon company. But most importantly, he’s a die-hard Ducks fan. You can reach Gary at firstname.lastname@example.org and you can follow him on Twitter at @GaryConkling.