Opinions: Pence listens while Trump tweets

Published 9:41 am Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Mankato Free Press

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency

Words matter when it comes to leading as president of the United States, and unfortunately, the 140 characters of Twitter don’t cut it.

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Someone should tell Donald Trump.

Trump or his Twitter handlers took issue with the cast of the Broadway play “Hamilton” making a statement at the end of a show attended by Vice president-elect Mike Pence.

They urged Pence to “hear us out” and delivered a respectful but poignant statement saying that the “diverse” America they represent is “alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights.”

They went on to say they hoped the show, which celebrates contributions immigrants made to the American Revolution, inspired him to “uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us.” Pence was on his way out of the theater while the statement was being read, but he stopped to listen.

Hearing of the incident, again either Trump or his Twitter handlers, took to the 140-character social medium and described the statement reading as “harassment” and preached that the theater should be a “special” and “safe” place. Trump’s Twitter account admonished the cast to “apologize.”

Pence later said he wasn’t offended and enjoyed the performance.

The incident exposes one problem: Leading by way of Twitter isn’t very presidential and can be fraught with tone deafness, especially in this case given Pence’s respectable response. Twitter may have been a key component of a political campaign for its immediacy and its propensity to be used as the candidate’s statement to a willing news media, but it shouldn’t become a primary communication strategy in the office of the leader of the free world.

The vice president and president should be on the same page at least some of the time and Trump should tame his hair trigger Twitter responses.

Trump has tweeted about 40 times since the election and an analysis by the Boston Globe notes about half of them have been described as defensive or confrontational and another 23 tweets had exclamation points. Americans need to see their president face-to-face every once in a while.

Clearly, the president-elect hasn’t done enough to re-assure certain groups he marginalized and disparaged during the campaign. He hasn’t reiterated the sentiment in his victory speech that he will be president to all Americans. We take him at his word and we hope he considers them more carefully. @realDonaldTrump: Words matter when you are president.