Last week, as Americans were confronted with news of a Donald Trump fan targeting Democratic officials with pipe bombs, the president complained that “this ‘Bomb’ stuff” was interfering with the Republican Party’s election messaging and the GOP’s purported “momentum.”
Last night in Missouri, Trump added some related thoughts, connecting the mail bombs to the mass shooting in Pittsburgh over the weekend that left 11 people dead.
“I will tell you, we have gotten tremendous numbers, tremendous numbers of Republicans are going out to vote. Now, we did have two maniacs stop our momentum that was incredible, because for seven days, nobody talked about the election to stop the tremendous momentum.”
In the wake of the synagogue and pipe bomb attacks, the president found some people to feel sorry for: himself and his party.
Perhaps realizing that he was prioritizing party politics over people, the president quickly added that “we don’t care about momentum,” before immediately making the case that he cares deeply about momentum: “But it did nevertheless stop a certain momentum. And now the momentum is picking up. And it’s picked up based on common sense. It’s picked up based on strong borders….”
We don’t care about momentum, but have I mentioned how important momentum is?
Circling back to our coverage from last week, if a major news organization had published a report, quoting anonymous White House insiders, saying that Trump is whining behind the scenes about pipe bombs and the deadliest attack on Jewish Americans in the history of the United States interfering with Republicans’ election messaging, it would’ve made the president look like an awful, petulant child, more concerned with politics than national security.
But as it turns out, we don’t need a behind-the-scenes account: Trump keeps sharing this sentiment in public.
And by all appearances, that’s largely because the president seems to enjoy feeling sorry for himself. During the fight over Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination, the president pointed to himself as a victim. When the public learned of a higher official death toll in Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria, Trump said researchers were simply trying to make him look bad. While railing against federal law enforcement earlier this year, the president endorsed the idea that he’s “been victimized by the Obama Administration.”
As a Washington Post report put it in June, “In President Trump’s telling, which can often be more imaginary than real, he is a victim – a long-suffering, tormented victim.”
The self-pity was certainly on display last night. Those of us who are media professionals should probably hang our heads in shame: while covering pipe bombs targeting prominent American leaders and a deadly mass shooting in a house of worship, we never paused to consider how it might bother Donald Trump’s feelings about the election.
No wonder he’s feeling sorry for himself.