Don't bother looking to President Donald Trump's Twitter account for dependable signs of what his administration does or is about to do.
This is a lesson culled repeatedly from the first two years and two months of Trump's term.
The safety concerns caused by the Sunday crash of a Boeing 737 Max 8 in Ethiopia and its echo of another in Indonesia in October seemed to catch the White House in a bit of a stall this week.
Until midafternoon Wednesday, the Federal Aviation Administration under his aegis held out against grounding these planes. Then the agency followed the lead of most other regulators worldwide and followed suit — shortly after Canada did so.
More than a full day earlier, after the Ethiopia disaster, the president was obliquely tweeting about modern flight technology.
"Airplanes are becoming far too complex to fly. Pilots are no longer needed, but rather computer scientists from MIT. I see it all the time in many products," he shared.
"I don’t know about you, but I don’t want Albert Einstein to be my pilot. I want great flying professionals that are allowed to easily and quickly take control of a plane!"
Sounds like he called for a whole new worldwide approach to digital technology. Right or wrong, that may have been an interesting argument for a talk show or a chat at the bar of the country club. But it shed no light on what he, in his job, was going to do about an immediate safety challenge.
As of Tuesday, Trump's subordinates were talking around the fact that the European Union and others were keeping the planes out of service.
Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said the U.S. “will not hesitate to take immediate and appropriate action” if required. Boeing said late Tuesday that it had “full confidence” in the Max 8. There were "no systemic performance issues," said an FAA statement.
Only to reporters at the White House on Wednesday did Trump announce the grounding. "The safety of the American people, of all people, is our paramount concern,” he said.
Remember how Trump last year defended his widely slammed policy of separating children from border-crossing families, falsely claiming the prior administration did it, too — before canceling it.
Last November, during a different disaster, the president tweeted: "There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor.
"Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!"
No "raking" of forests that he oddly touted as a solution to forest fires made it to the realm of everyday reality. Federal funds continue to assist the state.
Trump's tweeted threats of regulatory action against Amazon and media companies also proved of no consequence.
And his old tweets exaggerating the risks of vaccination also presaged no change in government policy, to the relief of many.
Being mindful of the unique disconnect between the president's Twitter taunts and the action or inaction of his administration could save the public a lot of time and worry.