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'Covfefe': The Tweet Heard Around The Wrold

Standard manual Olivetti M1 typewriter, without the keyboard and platen roller, 1911. Italy, 20th century.
Standard manual Olivetti M1 typewriter, without the keyboard and platen roller, 1911. Italy, 20th century.

The word of the week is covfefe.

Ask your doctor about covfefe. Say it loud and there's music playing; say it soft and it's almost like praying — covfefe.

At 12:06 a.m. Wednesday, President Trump tweeted, "Despite the constant negative press covfefe" — and nothing more. Twitter runnethed over with questions, speculation, GIFs and jokes, which we won't repeat because if there's anything worse than fake news in the news business, it's old jokes.

Several people ran the word through translation software, and briefly reported that covfefe is Samoan; which Samoans say it's not. I entered covfefe into a rhyme generator: no match, but Mojave and Qadhafi are rated as close.

Way out o'er the sands of the Mojave.

The winds whip and whisper covfefe.

President Trump deleted his tweet at 5:50 a.m. Just after 6 a.m., he posted a new message:

"Who can figure out the true meaning of 'covfefe' ???" he wrote, followed by three question marks. "Enjoy!"

Like a lot of people, I assumed the president meant to type a complaint about negative press "coverage," but his fingers misfired and tapped out "covfefe." Who among us hasn't committed a typo? It's happened to you; it's happened to me; it's probably happened to J.K. Rowling.

But Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary who told reporters after President Trump was inaugurated, "This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period," which it was not, and once uttered a horrifying gaffe that twisted the history of the Holocaust, seemed unwilling to accept that President Trump could be wrong about even a typo. He told reporters who asked about covfefe, "The president and a small group of people know exactly what he meant."

The problem with trying to put a happy face on a gaffe is that it can pump air into wild and ludicrous theories. Late this week, some of President Trump's supporters insisted on social media that his covfefe was actually a shrewd and subtle presidential invocation of an ancient Arabic term for standing up against an attack. Language experts say it is not.

But I'd like to try another explanation. Tweets travel at twice the speed of light — please don't check that, by the way. Covfefe may be a signal President Trump sent this week, in the middle of the night, when he thought no one on Earth would notice, to the people on a planet that is light-years from our own.

Reporters may wonder. But the people on Covfefe know the president was saying: Do you see any greenhouse gases down here?

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