The good news is, Donald Trump took the time to reach out directly to some of the victims of last week’s shooting in Parkland, Fla. The bad news is, some of the calls didn’t go especially well. The New York Times reported overnight:
Samantha Fuentes, who was shot in both legs during the Parkland assault, said she had felt no reassurance during a phone call from the president to her hospital room last week.
“He said he heard that I was a big fan of his, and then he said, ‘I’m a big fan of yours too.’ I’m pretty sure he made that up,” she said in an interview after being discharged from the hospital. “Talking to the president, I’ve never been so unimpressed by a person in my life. He didn’t make me feel better in the slightest.”
Ms. Fuentes, who was left with a piece of shrapnel lodged behind her right eye, said Mr. Trump had called the gunman a “sick puppy” and said “ ‘oh boy, oh boy, oh boy,’ like, seven times.”
If this awkwardness reminds you a bit of the president’s conversation with Sgt. La David T. Johnson’s widow, Myeshia Johnson, when Trump reportedly said the sergeant “must’ve known what he signed up for,” you’re not the only one.
When this became the subject of controversy, he lashed out at Ms. Johnson via Twitter. I can’t help but wonder if Samantha Fuentes should expect the same treatment.
In fairness, the Times article pointed to a man who lost his daughter in last week’s mass shooting, and he praised Trump for his support. Not everyone who’s interacted with the president comes away unimpressed with his capacity of empathy.
But another participant in the White House session, Samuel Zeif, an 18-year-old student at Stoneman Douglas High School who survived the shooting and spoke tearfully at the White House on Wednesday of the experience, said Mr. Trump had done little to comfort or console him.
He said he had been particularly stung to see pictures of the notecard after it was over.
“Everything I said was directly from the heart, and he had to write down ‘I hear you,’” Mr. Zeif said in an interview.
As a candidate, the Republican, referring to himself in third person, said empathy would be “one of the strongest things about Trump.”
There’s quite a bit of evidence to the contrary.