DONALD TRUMP'S ALL-CAPS IRAN TWEET IS A BIG DEAL

First, an admission: I have no idea why ...

Posted: Jul 23, 2018 10:18 PM
Updated: Jul 23, 2018 10:18 PM

First, an admission: I have no idea why President Donald Trump tweeted the following at 11:24 p.m. Eastern Time on Sunday night:

"To Iranian President Rouhani: NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE. WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!"

The likely reasons, as I see them:

  1. Mired in a downward spiral in regard to the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, Trump was trying to DRAMATICALLY CHANGE THE SUBJECT.
  2. He saw Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's comments that a war with Iran would be the "mother of all wars" and DECIDED TO SEND A MESSAGE LOUD AND CLEAR.

Many people believe the former option to be the more likely. Maybe. Knowing Trump's thin skinned-ness, however, I wouldn't rule out the possibility that someone showed him Rouhani's quote -- or, even more likely, he saw it on cable TV -- and he lashed out.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders explained it this way in Monday's press briefing: "The President's been, I think, pretty strong since day one in his language toward Iran. He was responding to comments made from them, and he's going to continue to focus on the safety and security of American people."

Regardless of why Trump did it, here's *what* he did: Taunted an aspiring nuclear power with some of the harshest words we've heard from an American president.

Trump's thinking in regard to Iran is almost entirely informed by how he handled "negotiations" with North Korea. Trump called North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un "Little Rocket Man" and made clear that America's "nuclear button" was far larger than North Korea's. Fears ran rampant that Trump was tweeting the US into a war on the Korean peninsula. Then, somehow, Kim decided that a summit with Trump would make sense -- and the two sat down in Singapore last month, a meeting that Trump claimed had gone terrifically.

If it worked on Kim, Trump seems to believe, it will work on Rouhani. And it might! (To be clear: The summit "worked" in the sense it happened; denuclearization by the North Koreans is far from a done deal.)

But Twitter diplomacy -- which is one of the many things that Trump has ushered in as President -- isn't a tried-and-true approach to geopolitics. Especially since it's not entirely clear whether Trump actually checked with anyone in his administration before issuing the threat again Iran.

"The President consults with his national security team on a daily basis," Sanders said earlier Monday when asked directly whether Trump had run his tweet by any of the relevant parties in his administration. You would think that if Trump had, in fact, checked with his national security team, Sanders would have been able to answer the question a little (or a lot) less vaguely.

For Trump allies, this is all fine. Trump was elected as someone who knew how to deal with bullies and who wasn't afraid to do things very differently than the way they had been done in the past. It worked with Kim, they will note. Who's to say it won't work with Rouhani too?

The problem is, of course, what if it doesn't work? What if Rouhani doesn't react like Kim? What is he takes this threat as literal -- and makes moves to counter it? Diplomacy isn't a one-way street. Nor, typically, does a one-size-fits-all approach usually work.

The question is whether Trump has any speed except PEDAL TO THE METAL AT ALL TIMES. He's shown that gun-it style isn't without its merits in regards North Korea. But can he shift gears if it doesn't work as well with Iran? Does he understand -- or care about -- the complexities inherent in this sort of diplomacy? Or has he rendered those complexities irrelevant?

All of it comes back to the question that sits at the heart of Trump's presidency: Is he the exception or is he the new rule? Has he fundamentally altered the way nations negotiate -- in addition to realigning the Republican Party and conducting an all-out assault on fact? Trump clearly believes he has -- or he simply doesn't know any other way to be.

Either way, the stakes couldn't be higher. And Trump is charging FULL SPEED AHEAD.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 265146

Reported Deaths: 5777
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17741191
Hinds16891332
Harrison14279204
Rankin11239220
Jackson10917190
Lee9071145
Madison8599169
Jones6731118
Forrest6208124
Lauderdale6121192
Lowndes5544120
Lafayette520598
Lamar505865
Washington4933125
Bolivar4126109
Oktibbeha408382
Panola386981
Pontotoc377460
Monroe3686110
Warren3685103
Marshall357170
Union356864
Pearl River3495106
Neshoba3490154
Leflore3118109
Lincoln306788
Hancock294262
Sunflower291975
Tate280662
Alcorn273154
Pike270181
Itawamba269363
Scott260048
Yazoo256756
Prentiss253754
Coahoma249755
Copiah249749
Tippah249750
Simpson242872
Leake238167
Marion224273
Grenada223972
Covington221073
Adams215171
Wayne213734
Winston207671
George204739
Newton199946
Attala197064
Tishomingo194961
Chickasaw189344
Jasper181138
Holmes172068
Clay166837
Tallahatchie157235
Stone152525
Clarke148162
Calhoun141322
Smith130026
Yalobusha123335
Walthall114537
Greene113729
Noxubee113026
Montgomery112036
Carroll106822
Lawrence106817
Perry105131
Amite102126
Webster96824
Tunica89021
Claiborne88825
Jefferson Davis88430
Benton85823
Humphreys84724
Kemper80920
Quitman7139
Franklin70617
Choctaw63713
Wilkinson59825
Jefferson56821
Sharkey45217
Issaquena1606
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 441170

Reported Deaths: 6660
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson646811007
Mobile31620572
Madison28310217
Tuscaloosa21525275
Montgomery19954332
Shelby19335132
Baldwin17256189
Lee13205107
Morgan12639142
Etowah12107181
Calhoun11521206
Marshall10471123
Houston9009164
Limestone834981
Cullman8274124
Elmore8214110
DeKalb7894107
Lauderdale7871107
St. Clair7854130
Talladega6481112
Walker6036183
Jackson601545
Colbert549994
Blount547386
Autauga537662
Coffee462464
Dale410785
Franklin374950
Russell357515
Chilton345473
Covington339680
Escambia335444
Tallapoosa3149109
Dallas313296
Chambers304270
Clarke300236
Pike262531
Lawrence254155
Marion253761
Winston233642
Bibb222348
Geneva211547
Marengo209331
Pickens199631
Hale185244
Barbour182738
Fayette178629
Butler174460
Cherokee165731
Henry159925
Monroe152421
Randolph146436
Washington142327
Clay130546
Crenshaw124045
Macon122337
Cleburne121825
Lamar120222
Lowndes115536
Wilcox107922
Bullock103528
Perry100018
Conecuh97922
Sumter90527
Greene77923
Coosa63618
Choctaw51924
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