I have a confession to make. There's something refreshing about watching Donald Trump break the china.
Take his phone call with Taiwan last week. Everybody knows this isn't done. You can't talk to Taiwan because China will be mad, and you can't afford to upset China. The pundits (to say nothing of the diplomatic corps) had conniption fits. They wrote many column inches explaining that Mr. Trump's epic blunder had destroyed two generations of Sino-American relations. "Trump flunks his first foreign policy test," blared The Washington Post.
As you might expect, Mr. Trump was not the least contrite. Instead, he doubled down. It was "interesting," he tweeted, "how the U.S sells Taiwan billions of dollars of military equipment but I should not accept a congratulatory call."
So much for Barack Obama's entire foreign policy. Mr. Trump isn't even in the White House and he's already thrown it in the dumpster.
The Trump modus operandi is compelling. He deliberately ignores the way things are supposed to be done. He shows up at polite society's party and starts smashing the nice plates. It's appalling, but ordinary people are thrilled to bits. Why should their country be tippy-toeing around China all the time? China deserves a poke in the eye!
Mr Trump's provocations have turned the media into a pack of Pavlov's dogs. They just can't help it – they salivate at every outrage. When he tweeted the other day that "nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag," they had spasms of indignation. For days, they penned earnest sermons about the First Amendment and speculated nervously about how badly Mr. Trump might undermine the Constitution. Free-speech lovers gathered outside his New York hotel to exercise their rights by burning a few flags. Unfortunately, Americans love their flag. Guess whose side they cheered for?
The more that Mr. Trump's manoeuvres offend the media, the more popular he gets. When he bullied Carrier to keep several hundred jobs in the United States, opinion-leaders of all stripes were dismayed. They warned that the deal could undermine the rule of law and do permanent damage to American capitalism. But working people loved it. Even Democratic voters loved it. They want him to use his power to push businesses around.
The mainstream media are having a total breakdown about how to cover the president-elect. Should they ignore his tweets? Or should they dissect and fact-check every one? Distressingly, the public doesn't care. Nor do they care that he won't hold news conferences or let the media grill him, as he's supposed to do. Why should he? He was vilified by every mainstream outlet in America, and he won anyway. As former vice-president Dick Cheney told a CNN reporter, "He's at the point where we don't need you guys any more."
No wonder the media are terrified by Mr. Trump. He's proved that they don't matter. He's shown that they don't have a clue what's going on all across America right underneath their noses. He's shown that he understands people better than they do.
Mr. Trump is the perfect leader for the Twitter age. The point of Twitter is not to have rational discussions or intelligent exchanges of different points of view. The point of Twitter is to slag your enemies and retweet your friends. The point is to rally your supporters and build a following of millions by confirming their biases and giving them a constant stream of reasons to detest the other side. It's not just one side that's guilty of this. All sides are.
Twitter is the perfect medium for Mr. Trump.
He's turned it into performance art. It feeds his bottomless need to be at centre stage at all times. Whenever he feels there's someone in the world who might not be paying attention to him, all he needs to do is tweet. The length – 140 characters – is ideally suited to his attention span and to the complexity and depth of his ideas.
No need for a sustained argument. The whole idea is to emote and entertain. The greatest social-media communicator of the age turns out to be a 70-year-old orange-haired guy who can't even use a computer.
Donald Trump has shown that all you need to turn the entire American political and media establishment on its head is a few phone calls and a Twitter feed. I feel terrible for saying so, but it's wildly entertaining.
Of course, one day he might do something worse than break the china. One day he might blow up the house. That wouldn't be so fun.