Have you raised a toddler? Have you ever been one? Because that’s all you really need to fathom President Donald Trump’s latest seemingly unfathomable communique to the planet.
On Wednesday at 12:06 Eastern Daylight Savings, the leader of the free world picked up his smart phone and tweeted, “Despite the constant negative press covfefe.”
That was it. End of tweet.
Covfefe. What could it possibly mean? Was it French? Some sort of inside-baseball-dog whistle-wink-wink secret message to his most ardent supporters? Pundits, prognosticators, crossword puzzle enthusiasts, World War II code breakers, anybody who speaks English, feverishly sought an explanation.
A Twitter tsunami of jokes and excuses ensued, with Trump himself tweeting: “Who can figure out the true meaning of ‘covfefe’???”
It’s easy. The 45th president of the United States is, like a child learning to speak, given with some frequency to indecipherable gibberish.
Sometimes, there appears to be cogent thought behind his words (or, in this case, alleged words) and sometimes, apparently, not. It’s like when your 2-year-old, trying to explain how he loved Mickey Mouse or loathed strained beets, began speaking in tongues known but to himself. Only the emotion came through. So it is with our commander in chief.
The secret to covfefe is in what preceded it: “Despite the constant negative press.” Trump is at war with much of the press. He hates being fed what has become a bombardment of negative coverage about him and his administration. Call it a literal cry in the dark: In his exasperation, Trump was compelled to protest.
He likes to remind us how “really, really smart” he is, and how he commands “the best words.” Detractors would challenge both claims, especially after Covfefe-gate.
However, to dismiss Trump as an inarticulate child would be doing the nation, and children, a disservice. “Covfefe” means we’re in trouble if we don’t learn to understand what this president is trying to tell us. Regardless how much it sounds like strained beets.
David Freed is a pilot, novelist and former reporter for The Los Angeles Times. You can find him at David-Freed.com