Donald Trump’s Twitter account has been uncharacteristically subdued in recent weeks. No “check out sex tape” tweets. No taco bowls. Very few insults.
On Sunday, the New York Times reported that Trump has toned it down on purpose. According to the Times, in an effort to keep Trump on message, “aides to Mr. Trump have finally wrested away the Twitter account that he used to colorfully — and often counterproductively — savage his rivals.”
That’s amusing, but it may not seem overly significant — until you remember that as president, Trump would have access to the nuclear codes.
President Barack Obama made that point during a campaign appearance in Michigan on Monday. Alluding to the NYT report, Obama said, “If your closest advisers don’t trust you to tweet, then how can we trust him with the nuclear codes?”
Obama: If Trump's advisers don't trust him to tweet, then "how can we trust him with the nuclear codes?" https://t.co/KDEIZnDWII
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) November 7, 2016
Trump supporters have at times downplayed concerns about his temperament. In August, Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) justified her support for Trump by pointing out that the United States has “a strong system of checks and balances.” Her point was that even if Trump is unpredictable and prone to lashing out, he’s still a Republican, and his worst impulses can be kept in check by experienced advisers and Congress.
But that line of reasoning doesn’t assuage concerns about Trump’s control of the nuclear arsenal. Those fears were encapsulated by former NSA and CIA Director Michael Hayden during a Morning Joe appearance in August. In response to a question about what steps might stand in the way of Trump using nukes if he’s elected president, Hayden said, “The system is designed for speed and decisiveness. It’s not designed to debate the decision.”
Concerns about Trump’s temperament actually prompted Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) to develop a proposal that would strip a would be-President Trump’s nuclear capabilities by requiring congressional approval for nuclear launches.
Obama’s quip elicited chuckles. But if Trump becomes President, his temperament will be no laughing matter. It’s one thing to fire off an ill-advised tweet at 3 a.m. — another altogether to elect someone with that character the Commander-in-Chief.