Donald Trump is known to many opponents as the troll in the Oval Office, but the woman he beat for the most powerful seat in the world seems to have learned something from his willingness to tweet provocative pictures and memes.
On Sunday afternoon, Hillary Clinton tweeted a mocked-up letter from John F Kennedy to Nikita Khrushchev that was meant squarely to mock a real letter from Trump to Recep Tayyip Erdoğan which was revealed to the public this week.
“Found in the archives,” Clinton wrote, over an image of what purported to be a letter from the US president to the Soviet leader on 16 October 1962, during the Cuban missile crisis.
“Dear Premier Khrushchev,” the “letter” began. “Don’t be a dick, OK?”
Trump’s letter to Erdogan, in which he urged the authoritarian Turkish president who has invaded northern Syria “Don’t be a tough guy. Don’t be a fool!”, met with widespread disbelief, not least for its strikingly unpresidential tone.
“Turkish presidential sources” told the BBC Erdoğan “received the letter, thoroughly rejected it and put it in the bin”. A Russian government spokesman told reporters: “You don’t often encounter such language in correspondence between heads of state.”
The letter was widely mocked and parodied – the image Clinton tweeted was included in a segment on Trump’s letter by late-night host Jimmy Kimmel.
But the Guardian’s world affairs editor, Julian Borger, pointed out that like any presidential communication, Trump’s letter to the Turkish president “may still end up at the National Archives alongside the writings of Washington, Lincoln and Roosevelt. The comparison will not be flattering.”
The spoof letter tweeted by Clinton continued: “Get your missiles out of Cuba. Everybody will say, ‘Yay, Khrushchev! You’re the best!’ But if you don’t everybody will be like ‘what an asshole’ and call your garbage country ‘The Soviet Bunion’.
“You’re really busting my nuts here. Give you a jingle later. Hugs, John Fitzgerald Kennedy.”
For most of the weekend before Clinton’s intervention, Trump was uncharacteristically restrained on Twitter. He remained at the White House rather than playing golf but his most impactful missives to his followers concerned his humiliating u-turn on hosting the next G7 summit at his own Florida golf club.
Trump did not immediately respond to Clinton’s tweet. Users did not have to look far, though, to see what might be on the way.
In September 2017, Trump greeted the impending publication of Clinton’s campaign memoir What Happened by tweeting a meme of the former first lady, senator and secretary of state being knocked over by a golf ball.