Trump transition: Tweet tempests in teacups! (Washington Diary)

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Washington, Dec 10 (IANS) Time magazine grudgingly named Donald Trump “Person of the Year”, overlooking readers’ choice of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

But the man who would be the President of the US in forty days demonstrated once more, how he can seize the moment time and again, creating turbulence with a tweet.

The Manhattan mogul, who was peeved at being passed over last year, called the magazine’s choice “a great honour,” but still took issue with the cover naming him as the “President of the Divided States of America.”

Taking a victory lap in states that delivered him the White House – “Oh boy, how you delivered!” – he called it “snarky” as he made a stabbing motion with his right hand at a rally of supporters in Iowa donning red “Make America Great Again” hats.

Earlier, the reality TV star sent the talking heads from Washington to New Delhi into a tizzy, as he called Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif a “terrific guy” in Islamabad, and that how he was “willing to play any role” to find solutions for “amazing” Pakistan’s problems.

Then he set the chatterati aflutter as he needled China by taking a congratulatory call from the Taiwanese President in the first high level contact, since the US switched diplomatic recognition from the island nation to Beijing in 1979.

“Did China ask us if it was OK to devalue their currency or to build a massive military complex in the middle of the South China Sea? I don’t think so!” Trump shot back at critics of his “shoot-from-the-hip diplomatic style.”

Meanwhile, Boeing cruising through clear skies amid talks to build fighter aircraft plants in India, ran into turbulence with a Trump tweet out of the blue.

“Boeing is building a brand new 747 Air Force One for future presidents, but costs are out of control, more than $4 billion!” Trump tweeted. “Cancel order!”

Then hours after accusing Boeing of “doing a little bit of a number”, Trump won an assurance from the Boeing chief executive — “a good man” and “a terrific guy” — that the company would work to keep costs down. That sent liberal media having a beef with his Cabinet picks from fat cat billionaires to “mad dog” generals to critics of Barack Obama’s policies from health to labour to environment scrambling in another direction.

Trump also had a dustup with Carrier air conditioning’s union chief, who accused him of doing a “dog and pony show” by exaggerating the number of company jobs he had saved from moving to Mexico.

The mogul hit back with a swift tweet saying the long standing union chief “has done a terrible job representing workers. No wonder companies flee country!”

Set to announce on December 15, how he will separate himself “in total” from his worldwide business holdings, Trump courted another controversy insisting he would not be giving up his title as executive producer on “The Celebrity Apprentice.” Nor was he ready to take his thumbs off from Twitter.

“If the press would cover me accurately & honourably, I would have far less reason to ‘tweet’. Sadly, I don’t know if that will ever happen!” he tweeted.

But in the midst of all the controversies, he often turned to his new phone friend Barack Obama, who he once said, “would go down as the worst president in history!”

“I really like him – I can say for myself, I can’t speak for him – but we have a really good chemistry together,” he declared claiming the outgoing president had even approved of one of his Cabinet picks.

Meanwhile, left-wing filmmaker Michael Moore, one of the few to predict a Trump win back in June, advocated using the Electoral College as a “stopgap” meant to keep a “madman who wants to be king” from becoming president.

A New York Times columnist too suggested that “Time magazine ever in search of buzz” had chosen a “man of the year (who) is, by words and deeds, more of a madman of the year.”

But a Wall Street Journal columnist saw “Trump as Lady Gaga” calling him a “political performance artist” somewhat in the mould of “Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, John Kennedy, Ronald Reagan – who challenged and overturned status quos.”

Call him madman, performance artist or person of the times, but the magician of Manhattan knows how to keep the media pot boiling and stay in the limelight.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])

–IANS

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