In the wake of the brutal murders in Orlando, President Obama delivered a somber address from the White House, asking Americans to consider what kind of country we want. The massacre, he said, is “a further reminder of how easy it is for someone to get their hands on a weapon that lets them shoot people in a school, or in a house of worship, or a movie theater, or in a nightclub. And we have to decide if that’s the kind of country we want to be. And to actively do nothing is a decision as well.”
His remarks followed a related, measured statement from Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. “This is a time to stand together and resolve to do everything we can to defend our communities and country,” she said.
And then there was Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, who seemed quite eager to talk about Donald Trump. MSNBC’s Benjy Sarlin reported:
Trump, however, boasted that he had predicted the attack and thanked supporters for giving him credit for his achievement.“Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don’t want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance,” Trump tweeted on Sunday morning. “We must be smart!” He posted a similar statement on Facebook.He kept up the self-proclaimed victory lap in a longer statement that afternoon, again demanding recognition for noticing the threat of Islamic terrorism. […] “Because our leaders are weak, I said this was going to happen – and it is only going to get worse,” Trump said.
Here’s a good general rule: if you learn about the slaughter of 49 innocent civilians, and the first three words you’re eager to share with the public are, “Appreciate the congrats,” perhaps a career in public service isn’t for you.
Indeed, it’s hard not to wonder about the mindset of an individual who, in the wake of the deadliest mass shooting in American history, seems a little too eager to effectively declare, “Told you so!”
This is especially true given the inconvenient fact that Donald Trump did not, in reality, tell us so.
In fact, it’s not altogether clear what, exactly, the GOP presidential hopeful thinks he got right. Trump apparently believes he predicted that radicalized crackpots will try to kill people. The problem, of course, is this is an observation made by just about everyone, all of the world.
Most of us, however, had the good sense not to respond to the mass shooting in Orlando by touting our prognostication skills through blisteringly obvious points.
And then Trump made matters worse, reiterating his support for a ban on Muslims entering the United States – a policy he described last month as “just a suggestion” – which Republican officials hoped the candidate would quietly abandon.
The same statement added, in reference to the Orlando murders, “I called it,” a boast that is (a) wrong, and (b) a reminder that according to Donald Trump, everything is about Donald Trump.
As for the Republican’s proposed Muslim ban, let’s also not forget that the apparent gunman in Orlando was born in New York. Unless Trump’s mass deportation plan includes removing American citizens based on their religion, his reminder is incoherent.
In case that wasn’t quite enough, Trump also tweeted an unsourced, unconfirmed claim that the Orlando shooter shouted “Allahu Akbar” during the attack. The Twitter message was apparently plagiarized.
Yesterday offered Trump an opportunity of sorts. With the nation stunned by such senseless brutality, the Republican candidate, who speaks frequently about his ability to bring people together, could have taken the high ground and responded to the bloodshed with dignity and empathy. This was Trump’s chance to show that he can dial down the clownish antics, recognize the anguish Americans were feeling, and show that deep down, beneath the television personality, there’s still some honor and decency.
Instead, Trump did the opposite. He just couldn’t help himself.
If the slayings in Orlando were a leadership test for would-be presidents, Donald Trump failed spectacularly.