At some point before 11 p.m. on a Thursday in early January 2018, President Donald Trump pulled out his phone and started typing.
He hurled a lexical spear across the internet at his former chief political strategist Steve Bannon, adding another barb to his ever-growing repertoire of schoolyard nicknames.
“Sloppy Steve” entered the United States presidential record at 10:52 p.m.
I authorized Zero access to White House (actually turned him down many times) for author of phony book! I never spoke to him for book. Full of lies, misrepresentations and sources that don’t exist. Look at this guy’s past and watch what happens to him and Sloppy Steve!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 5, 2018
Popular on the campaign trail but perhaps more explosive as Trump adjusts to his role as the most powerful man on earth, the list of epithets includes “Lyin’ Ted” Cruz of Texas, “Little Rocket Man” Kim Jong Un of North Korea, and “Sleepy Eyes” Chuck Todd of NBC’s Meet the Press.
The Bannon bashing stemmed from the president’s displeasure with his former top aide for comments he made in a new book, Fire and Fury, characterizing as “treasonous” a 2016 meeting between senior Trump campaign aides and a Russian lawyer they believed had dirt on Hillary Clinton.
The president fired back at his former chief strategist Wednesday by alleging Bannon had “lost his mind” after being ousted from the White House.
Watch: Just How Realistic is Trump’s 2018 Legislative Agenda?
“Now that he is on his own, Steve is learning that winning isn’t as easy as I make it look. Steve had very little to do with our historic victory, which was delivered by the forgotten men and women of this country,” Trump said in a statement.
Some have questioned Trump’s tendency to belittle political opponents with demeaning nicknames — “Little Marco” Rubio, “Low Energy Jeb” Bush, “Cryin’ Chuck” Schumer, and “Dumb as a Rock Mika” Brzezinski — as his wife, Melania Trump, builds her first lady flagship campaign to combat cyber-bullying.
“Nothing can be more urgent nor worthy a cause than preparing future generations for adulthood with true moral clarity and responsibility,” the first lady said at a U.N. luncheon in New York last September. “Therefore, we must teach each child the values of empathy and communication that are at the core of kindness, mindfulness, integrity, and leadership, which can only be taught by example.”
Imagine the pillow talk.
For a president who appeared politically impervious to the consequences of rhetorical controversy in 2016, it is doubtful Trump will ever cease and desist from his trademark tactic.
In light of how he effortlessly weathered political attack ads, such as the one where children watch him invite business owners who moved their operations from New Hampshire to Mexico to “go fuck themselves,” the consequences likely to come from namecalling rolling into 2018 could be described in the president’s words: small potatoes.