Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Explaining COVFEFE and MAGMA

Last night (Wednesday-Thursday) the twitterverse experienced the twitter equivalent of a cosmic big bang. It’s name is covfefe and was tweeted by Donald Trump. It ranks, now, right up there with MAGMA (Make America Great My Ass), Trump’s seismic campaign slogan.

Here I will lay out the facts courtesy of a time line provided by the NY Times in What’s a ‘Covfefe’? Trump Tweet Unites a Bewildered Nation. Then I turn to articulating the competing explanations for Trump’s tweet.

Just the facts

WASHINGTON — And on the 132nd day, just after midnight, President Trump had at last delivered the nation to something approaching unity — in bewilderment, if nothing else.

The state of our union was … covfefe.

The trouble began, as it so often does, on Twitter, in the early minutes of Wednesday morning. Mr. Trump had something to say. Kind of.

“Despite the constant negative press covfefe,” the Twitter post began, at 12:06 a.m., from @realDonaldTrump, the irrepressible internal monologue of his presidency.

And that was that.

A minute passed. Then another. Then five.

Surely he would delete the message.

Ten. Twenty. It was nearly 12:30 a.m.

Forty minutes. An hour. The questions mounted.

Had the president’s lawyers, so eager to curb his stream-of-consciousness missives, tackled the commander in chief under the cover of night?

Perhaps, some worried aloud, Mr. Trump had experienced a medical episode a quarter of the way through his 140 characters.

Or maybe he had simply gazed upon his work, paused and thought: “Yes. Nailed it.”

No one at the White House could immediately be reached for comment overnight.

“What if this is it,” asked Emily Nussbaum, The New Yorker television critic, after just five minutes. “That is his final tweet & the rest of history stops.”

The explanations

Let’s formalize these attempts to understand covfefe in a set of competing hypotheses.

H0: This is the null hypothesis. It claims no change, business as usual. Trump just hit the wrong keys. He sits back and enjoys the media flap.

H1: This is the first alternative explanation. Trump was searching for a word and didn’t find it. This is symptomatic of early stage dementia.

H2: Trump, unbeknowst to his supporters, has been captured by a religious sect. He now speaks in tongues.

H3: Or, as Hillary Clinton thought, covfefe is a coded communication to Trump’s Russian handlers.

Take your pick. America has unleashed upon the world a serious plague.

Betsy DeVos fails in her role as SpellChecker-in-Chief.

Andy Borowitz, the New Yorker’s satirist, as usual, exposes the ridiculousness of this whole business.

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Donald J. Trump tweeted early Wednesday morning that his practice of sleeping only four hours a day was having no impact whatsoever on his ability to cljjryff.

Trump, who repeatedly touted his high energy level during the 2016 campaign, tweeted that, despite his gruelling Presidential schedule, he still had enormous reserves of stamina, which he called “stamgygygyggy.”

In the same tweetstorm, he lashed out at news reports questioning his fitness for office, denouncing them as “fakequez%(™.”

The White House said that, despite pleas from his legal team to delete his Twitter feed, Trump planned to continue tweeting, and that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos would continue to spell-check his tweets.

And so it goes.

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