Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump tweeted that he was praying for the 50 men and women killed and 53 injured in an attack on an Orlando gay club. Trump also tweeted what can only be called, as the Huffington Post rightly noted, a “humble brag” about the event.
Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don’t want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 12, 2016
He was correct. He might as well have been a seer, so clearly did he see this coming. We should have listened to the Donald. He’s the only man who knew that terrorist attacks happen or that gun violence is possible.
Never mind that the suspect in the shooting was a U.S. citizen. Omar Mateen, a child of Afghani parents, was born in New York. Never mind that that doesn’t fit with Trump’s anti-immigrant narrative, unless we’re talking about deporting American citizens now.
What has happened in Orlando is just the beginning. Our leadership is weak and ineffective. I called it and asked for the ban. Must be tough— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 12, 2016
Trump may not be happy that 50 people are dead in Florida, but rest assured he is a little bit satisfied to have been, in his mind, proved right about Muslims. Even if, according to the deceased Mateen’s ex-wife, he was abusive and not particularly devote. Even if Mateen may have attacked in the name of ISIS, but ISIS is only now scrambling to take credit for the atrocity. Even if we don’t know–like we never know the day after a shooting–exactly what happened, or why.
The smug self-satisfaction during what should have been a time of mourning and reflection was the perfect coda to my weekend with Trump, which reinforced, yet again, that he has no business anywhere near the Oval Office.
On Saturday, in a hangar outside of the Pittsburgh airport, Trump exited his Trump plane and strode across the tarmac like the president he swear he wants to be. It was somewhere north of 90 degrees, and Trump had kept the crowd of several hundred waiting for more than half an hour. As security–who were much more diverse than the crowd–gave my friend and I the side-eye because we were troublingly Trump swag-free, and were making quips to each other, the man of the hour rambled for nearly an hour, though it felt like longer due to the heat. At least a score of people left early, having had their fill.
Start a chant of “build the wall!”, boo the press, slip into the third person, call leaders “weak,” curse China, accuse Hillary Clinton of wanting to “abolish the Second Amendment,” say “maybe I’m a little old-fashioned, but I love steel.” Trump hit the usual marks. He asked almost hopefully whether there were any protesters in the room, but the only one who seemed to have bothered was one Rod Webber, who was outside in the parking lot passing out daisies to anyone who would accept them. According to Webber, a Trump campaign person stopped Webber at the door, in spite of his ticket, and threatened him with arrest.
Trump was in fine form for outrages. He went on bizarre rants about Kobe beef. He complained about the exchange for soldier Bowe Bergdahl, who faces a court martial next year. Trump complained about Iran keeping U.S. sailors for less than a day after they sailed into their waters in January. He complained about the Iran deal. And he worried and fretted over the Syrian refugees who are coming here. “They’re coming to Pittsburgh, you just don’t know it.” See, “They’re being put all over the country, just like they want to be…We talk about Trojan horse! And maybe it’s a Trojan horse, and maybe it’s not.” Paris and San Bernardino were then mentioned, before Trump segued in his usual whiplish fashion into a complaint about Hillary Clinton’s plans to raise taxes.
Maybe Donald Trump wouldn’t be the presumptive nominee if he had an ounce of nuance in his head. Maybe his crowds wouldn’t be cheering for him if he said something mild like, “Gee, I’m a little worried about dangerous terrorist infiltrators among crowds of legitimately desperate refugees.” Maybe his fans would have stayed home during all the primaries and caucuses and speeches if Trump appeared able to recognize that regardless of anything else, fleeing from ravaged, razed Syria is the most rational thing in the world. Maybe they wouldn’t chant his name if Trump knew how to even fake a little empathy towards those huddled masses.
But empathy–the kind we saw in the photos of people lined up to give blood in the wake of the Orlando shooting, isn’t something that interests Trump, or his supporters. Trump is interested in Trump, and how correct he is, how desperately America needs to listen to him before it’s too late. How he’s our only hope.
The lines outside the Orlando blood banks say different. Those who gave blood in the hours after the club shooting–so much blood people had to be turned away–have earned the right to be part of the discussion about America and greatness. Not an opportunist who turns a mass killing into a victory lap.