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Tweeting Toward Oblivion

Donald Trump faces a stark choice. He can tweet, or he can govern.


He can indulge his persecution complex, firing off missives that compare Barack Obama to Joseph McCarthy and American intelligence officers to Nazis, or he can recognize it as a gateway to disgrace and irrelevance.

他可以沉浸在自己的受迫害情结中,发表一连串的言论,把贝拉克·奥巴马(Barack Obama)比作约瑟夫·麦卡锡(Joseph McCarthy),把美国的情报人员比作纳粹,他也可以承认这么做只会让自己蒙羞,变得无足轻重。

He can make his presidency about his own viscera, or he can make it about the country’s welfare. He can do what feels cathartic in the moment, or he can do what’s constructive in the long run. He can dabble in bright colors and shiny objects, or he can deal in durable truths.


I’m focusing on Twitter because it teases out his worst traits. It’s the theater for vainglorious, vindictive, impulsive Trump, and it was the realm in which he made the wild accusations that Obama had wiretapped Trump Tower. On Monday, James Comey debunked those charges, certifying them as the gaseous fulminations we more or less knew they were.

我把重点放在Twitter上是因为它引出了特朗普最坏的性格特点。它是那个自负、有报复心、冲动的特朗普的舞台。正是在Twitter上,特朗普胡乱指责奥巴马曾监听特朗普大厦(Trump Tower)。周一,詹姆斯·科米(James Comey)驳斥了这些指控,证明它们只是没有实质含义的愤懑之辞。这一点,我们其实或多或少都知道。

And through much of Tuesday, Trump’s personal Twitter account essentially went dark. There was nothing from the hours around dawn, which is when he typically visits with his darkest vapors. There was only anodyne stuff later on: a shout-out to the scientists at NASA, a salute to American farmers.


Either someone in his orbit convinced him, at least briefly, of the damage he was doing and the miserable situation he’s in, or Trump himself summoned some wisdom and restraint. He must be capable of that. Can he continue it?


It could be argued that every presidency is a tug of war between private demons and the public interest, between the commander in chief’s indulgence of his own psychological needs and his attentiveness to the hard work of America. With Trump it’s a furiously pitched battle, and the demons are way out ahead. 纽约时报中英文网 http://www.qqenglish.com


One of them hasn’t received the attention it warrants. With all our condemnations of Trump the bully, we’ve overlooked Trump the bullied, which is the version more likely to bring him down. I mean the Trump who’s hellbent on believing that he’s up against ruthless enemies; the Trump who must amplify every stride by casting it as a triumph over formidable odds; the Trump who’s throwing a pity party for himself the likes of which few of his predecessors ever attempted.


His election somehow brought this Trump to the fore. In a paradox as strange as everything else about him, victory played handmaiden to a feeling of victimization: his own and the country’s.


It’s precisely that feeling — “a sense of persecution bordering on faith,” as Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman wrote in The Times on Monday — that brought about the wiretapping tweets.

正是这种感觉导致他发表了那些有关窃听的推文。周一在《时报》上,格伦·思拉什(Glenn Thrush)和玛吉·哈伯曼(Maggie Haberman)把他的这种感觉称作“近乎信念的受迫害感”。

But it has also brought about many other ill-advised tweets and ill-considered public statements, enveloping Trump in a foul air of grievance. If it’s not the Mexicans taking advantage of him and of us, it’s the Australians or the Germans or the Chinese. Take your pick.


纽约时报中英文网 www.qqenglish.com

The “deep state” is out to get him. The leaks are a plot against him.


Sometimes his mewling has an obvious prompt. When your approval ratings have sunk as low as his — a recent Gallup tracking poll showed that only 37 percent of Americans were pleased with his performance — you have an obvious investment in calling such surveys rigged and wrong, as Trump is still doing.


But other whimpering is absurdly conceived and needlessly divisive. During Angela Merkel’s visit to Washington last week, he ranted about an unjust trade imbalance between Germany and the United States, crediting Germany with smarter negotiators. But there are no such negotiators. We trade not specifically with Germany but with the European Union as a whole.

但其他的呜咽之辞完全是想象出来的,会引起不必要的争议。在安格拉·默克尔(Angela Merkel)上周访问华盛顿期间,他痛斥德国和美国之间不合理的贸易不平衡,并将其归咎于德国有更聪明的谈判代表。但根本没有这种谈判代表。我们不是专门和德国进行贸易,而是把欧盟作为一个整体加以对待。

It’s possible that he doesn’t know that. It’s also possible that he chose to disregard a detail that would have complicated and maybe nullified his complaint. Why let the facts get in the way of a tantrum that he then transferred to Twitter, where he bellowed that Germany owed money for its defense to the United States and NATO?


It’s funny: Comey’s testimony on Monday made clear that someone does have a right to feel put upon. That someone is Hillary Clinton. He stressed how “hated” she was by Vladimir Putin. He also confirmed that before Election Day, intelligence officers were looking into whether Putin and the Russians were meddling in the election because of that hatred. At the time Comey said nothing about that, even as he announced that the F.B.I. was taking a fresh look at newly discovered Clinton emails.

有意思的是:科米周一的证词表明,有人的确有权觉得自己受到了不公平对待。这个人就是希拉里·克林顿(Hillary Clinton)。他强调弗拉基米尔·普京(Vladimir Putin)多么“讨厌”克林顿,并证实在选举日之前,情报人员正在调查普京和俄罗斯是否因为那种厌恶而干涉美国大选。当时,甚至在宣布联邦调查局(FBI)正在重新调查刚发现的克林顿的电子邮件时,科米丝毫未提及此事。

Trump is no victim. He’s the luckiest man alive — or has been, until now.


But his allies “have begun to wonder if his need for self-expression, often on social media, will exceed his instinct for self-preservation,” Thrush and Haberman wrote. He can vent his emotions or exercise his responsibilities. The decision belongs to him, the consequences to all of us.




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