Mostly, though, Trump, being Trump, has tried to tweet his way through the interlocking crises. It has not worked. On Tuesday, he began the day with a post suggesting that a septuagenarian protester who had been pushed to the ground by Buffalo police and suffered a serious head injury was somehow an Antifa conspiracist who did it to make the police look bad—an absurd conspiracy theory, which had just aired on Trump’s new favorite TV channel, the One America News Network.
On Capitol Hill, a by-now-familiar dance quickly began as Republican senators desperately sought to avoid comment on another incendiary Trump tweet. This time, they contorted themselves so foolishly that they would have been better off simply saying something, anything, instead of ridiculously pretending not to have anything to say about something so reprehensible and stupid. Burgess Everett, a Politico reporter, took to showing a printed-out copy of the tweet to senators when they claimed not to be familiar with it. So did Manu Raju, of CNN, who elicited a gem from Ron Johnson, of Wisconsin, when he tried to read him the tweet. “I would rather not hear it,” Johnson said, as he ducked into an elevator, which might as well be the official new motto of the Senate G.O.P. when it comes to Donald Trump.
They would rather not hear it because, of course, as a senior White House official told one reporter, the tweet speaks for itself. Res ipsa loquitur. It sure does. Trump, in all things, speaks for himself. It’s just that what he says is often so bizarre, alarming, false, and politically problematic that it is hard to process. It has been especially so in recent days, as the country has found itself in need of a leader but stuck with a loudmouth wannabe strongman.