Donald Trump was at it again last week when he went after the president of a local Steelworkers union in Indianapolis, Indiana, who had had the temerity to criticize the president-elect.
Chuck Jones represents workers at the Carrier air-conditioning factory that Mr. Trump brought to international attention when he said he made a deal with the parent company, United Technologies, to prevent almost 1,100 jobs from being lost to Mexico.
But it wasn't 1,100 jobs, Mr. Jones protested. It was 730 positions on the shop floor. The Indianapolis plant would continue to be home to 350 research-and-development workers whose jobs were never going to be moved to Mexico.
As well, the deal Mr. Trump struck means the company can still eliminate those 730 jobs through robot technology. It all became too much for Mr. Jones when the president-elect travelled to Indianapolis to hold a self-congratulatory rally at which he touted his inflated job-saving numbers.
"He got up there and, for whatever reason, lied his ass off," Mr. Jones told reporters.
That, in turn, was too much for Mr. Trump. "Chuck Jones, who is President of United Steelworkers 1999, has done a terrible job representing workers," he tweeted. "No wonder companies flee country!" Then he added, "If United Steelworkers 1999 was any good, they would have kept those jobs in Indiana. Spend more time working – less time talking. Reduce dues."
The counterpunch lacked all logic, and it was completely inappropriate coming from the future president. It furthermore led to Mr. Jones receiving death threats and other harassment.
Thankfully, you don't get to be president of a union representing Rust Belt factory employees without having broad shoulders. Mr. Jones shrugged off the impotent attack.
But Mr. Trump's intemperance reminds us of two facts: One, that his skin is so thin as to be non-existent; and, two, he will never stop using Twitter as part of a personal strategy to rile the media and keep critics off-balance.
It's working for him now, because he's not president yet. The real test will come when he has to work with Congress to get his agenda implemented. It's easy to trash a local blue-collar union rep; it's another thing to go after seasoned legislators. We'll see how brave Mr. Trump is when he's up against someone his own size.