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It’s time to impeach these 7 tired responses to the torrent of Trump news

I did not see writing this column on my 2020 bingo card, and yet here we are.

It’s time to impeach these 7 tired responses to the torrent of Trump news
[Photo: Tia Dufour/The White House/Flickr; joshborup/Pixabay]

Being online at any point in the Trump era always feels like being trapped in a chaotic time loop.

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The president’s pugilistic Twitter presence, not to mention his overall penchant for spectacle, leaves onlookers locked in a perpetual state of reaction.

What he just said, or did, is always changing—often several times within a single day—but the cartoon fight cloud around it remains constant.

Happy Groundhog Day!

But just because the president’s blunt provocations arrive at such a frenetic pace that they tend to blur together doesn’t mean political spectators need be equally repetitive in their responses.

Each day without fail, however, pundits both professional and otherwise shout into the echo chamber the same shopworn responses to each Trumpian news nugget. Over the past few years, this routine has congealed into a well-rehearsed dance: Trump leads, Politics Twitter follows, and round and round we go.

It’s bad enough reading Trump’s latest inflammatory bon mot at all; seeing it cocooned within dozens of familiar, faux-witty quote-tweets adds a layer of profound emptiness to the proceedings.

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It doesn’t have to be this way, though.

Not that everyone should just ignore Trump altogether, although certainly some people would benefit from doing so. Rather, Politics Twitter simply needs to discover some fresh ways to engage with the cacophony Trump creates online—or at least retire some of the more once-fun reactions that have since become assembly-line pablum.

Not simply falling back on “the hits” can be challenging. I’ve been guilty of using several of the below tropes myself. If everyone were to abandon them at this point, though, it would go a long way toward making each day between now and the election feel less identical to the previous day.

It would sure be a shame if everyone stopped tweeting these phrases.

The writers this season

Because the president is, incredibly, a former game show host, he brings to the office a pronounced reality-television sensibility. While some turns during his tenure have felt so cosmically coincidental they might as well have been concocted in a writers’ room, plenty of them are just interesting things that happened. Is it a little schadenfreude-y that some of Trump’s “beautiful boaters” accidentally sank their boats during a parade for Trump last weekend? Absolutely. Does it seem like evidence that America is now a divine Truman Show experiment? Not necessarily!

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My 2020 bingo card

How exactly did people come to start describing unlikely events as items absent from an annual bingo card? Is everybody playing bingo in a vastly different way than I do? (I have not played bingo in at least 17 years.) In any case, far too many people are perhaps overvaluing the impact of claiming that a news item falls outside of some nonexistent predictions game.

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It would sure be a shame if everyone . . .

This specimen is a close cousin to Raise Your Hand If in its request for amplification. Perhaps it started as an ode to the old chestnut, “Nice ____ you got there. Be a shame if something happened to it.” Whatever its origins, though, the winky-winky reverse logic has long outworn its outcome, and made the desired amplification something I do root against.

Don’t fall for this distraction

Picture this: You’re looking at your phone. (Hard to imagine, I know.) Suddenly, a piece of sensational news floats across the transom. It seems intriguing. You’re about to devote the full breadth of your attention to it, for upward of 10 minutes. Thankfully, a well-meaning and deeply serious Twitterer arrives just in the nick of time to let you know that this sensational story is merely a distraction from an empirically more important story. You almost fell victim to the hazard of paying attention to the wrong thing. Had you gone with your instinct, the distractors would have won. But thanks to the warning of a good Samaritan who has never been distracted by anything, the distractors lost and were never heard from again. The end.

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Two things can be true at the same time

I hear there’s even a surgery that can make three things be true at the same time.

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It’s almost as if . . . 

Sarcastically downplaying the obviousness of your point? It’s almost as if it’s been done before.

Imagine if Obama . . . 

The moment Trump took office nearly four years ago, almost every single Republican in a position of power decided that the ends of his presidency were worth whatever the means. Since then, the stench of hypocrisy wafting out of Washington, D.C., has reached uncharted levels of foulness, as GOP politicians who were red-faced screaming over such Obama scandals as wearing a tan suit, Dijongate, and the “latte salute” give Donald Trump a pass on refusing to release his tax returns despite nearly everyone in his inner circle being charged with financial crimes; fomenting racial tensions; denigrating dead troops; and purposefully downplaying the threat of coronavirus. The people who support what Trump did yesterday will support whatever he does tomorrow. To them, it doesn’t matter how furious they would be if Obama did the same thing; if Trump did it, it was probably the right thing to do. As maddening as this disparity may be, though, it should have sunk in by now. Instead of imagining how the GOP would’ve reacted if Obama were Trump, imagine the political future you prefer and work toward making it a reality.

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