On Thursday, Donald Trump returned to his much-touted – and to date, deeply underwhelming – social media venture: Truth Social.
“I’M BACK! #COVFEFE,” Trump tweeted truthed, with a picture of himself at his Mar-a-Lago estate.
Which is, well, weird. Mostly because of his use of the made-up word “covfefe.”
Let’s go through the history of “covfefe,” shall we?
It all began in back in May 2017 when, a little after midnight, then-President Trump tweeted this: “Despite the constant negative press covfefe.”
That tweet was quickly deleted.
But Trump came back the next morning with this: “Who can figure out the true meaning of ‘covfefe’ ??? Enjoy!”
The “true meaning” seems pretty simple. Trump meant to type “coverage” – as in “constant negative press COVERAGE” – but instead wrote “covfefe” and hit send on his tweet before spell-checking it.
Amazingly, that wasn’t the end of the story. The White House press secretary at the time, Sean Spicer, was subsequently asked what Trump meant by “covfefe.” And rather than simply saying that Trump had made a typo, Spicer said this: “The President and a small group of people know exactly what he meant.”
Which is, of course, ridiculous. He didn’t “mean” anything. He mistyped the word “coverage.” End of story.
But the reaction from Trump and the White House was telling.
Neither Trump nor Spicer wanted to say that Trump had simply made a mistake. Trump and his minions are heavily invested in the idea that he doesn’t, um, make mistakes. And so they created a whole story around “covfefe” which made no sense because it is a made-up word.
Over the intervening years, like so many aspects of Trumpism, “covfefe” has transformed into a sort of inside joke. It’s the equivalent of the “Let’s Go Brandon” chant. Or a secret handshake. If you know, you know – and all that.
“Covfefe,” for the Trump base, means a media freakout. It means the press just not getting Trump. It signifies his ability to play the press like a fiddle.
This is, of course, colossally odd. “Covfefe” was – and is – a typo. Nothing more. And yet, in the bizarro world of politics in which we now live, it’s become a political rallying cry.
We truly live in dumb political times.