Though an investigation is still underway, and the facts are still coming together, there was an explosion Saturday night in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, which injured 29 people. Within a few hours, police found a “possible secondary device” a few blocks away.
Early this morning, as NBC News also reported, a backpack that appeared to contain pipe bombs exploded as a police robot examined it near a train station in Elizabeth, New Jersey, which is just 20 miles from Manhattan. The explosion reportedly occurred while a bomb-squad robot was cutting into the device. There were no reports of any injuries.
Not surprisingly given the circumstances, the incidents have once again renewed interest in national security as a presidential campaign issue. On Saturday night, soon after the explosion in Chelsea, Hillary Clinton spoke to reporters, extended her best wishes to the affected families and first responders, and said she would have “more to say… when we actually have the facts.” Yesterday, Clinton went into far more detail, “strongly condemning the apparent terrorist attacks.”
Donald Trump preferred a different approach. The Republican spoke in Colorado late Saturday and, before having any real information, told his audience “a bomb went off in New York.” Before quickly transitioning to rhetoric about polls, the GOP nominee added, “We better get very, very tough. We’ll find out. It’s a terrible thing that’s going on in our world, in our country and we are going to get tough and smart and vigilant. … We’ll see what it is. We’ll see what it is.”
Of particular interest, though, was this portion of Trump’s speech, as transcribed by CBS News’ Sopan Deb:
“So often, they’ll ask me, ‘How do you defeat ISIS?’ I say, ‘You know what? I have a real chance of winning. I don’t want to tell the enemy how I’m thinking. […]“I will give you good results. Don’t worry how I get there, okay? Please.”
That’s awfully close to a perfect encapsulation of Donald Trump’s entire policy platform in the 2016 campaign: “I will give you good results. Don’t worry how I get there, okay? Please.”
Keep in mind, the Republican candidate had a slightly different line as recently as two weeks ago. Asked how he’d defeat ISIS, Trump proclaimed, “I am also going to convene my top generals and give them a simple instruction: They will have 30 days to submit to the Oval Office a plan for defeating ISIS.”
Putting aside the fact that Trump has claimed he already knows more about ISIS than American military leaders, this isn’t much of a policy. To hear the Republican presidential hopeful tell it, his plan to defeat ISIS is to ask others to give him a plan to defeat ISIS.
But that was two weeks ago. Trump is now back to arguing that he has a secret plan, which he’s reluctant to telegraph. The result is a curious pitch from a candidate with no relevant knowledge, skills, experience, or qualifications: Trump will deliver “good results” if we just give him enormous power, without “worrying” about how he intends to produce those results.
I especially liked the “please” at the end of his appeal – as in, “Please don’t press me for any kind of explanation or details, because I find such questions annoying.”
According to one account, Trump added this morning, in reference to the Chelsea bomb, “I should be a newscaster because I called it before the news.”
If there’s one thing Donald J. Trump considers truly important, it’s the ability to say, “I called it,” no matter how serious or tragic the situation.