There he was – in the wake of a profound tragedy, the slaughter of innocent people by a killer with a high-powered gun in Orlando – called upon to react with the appropriate gravitas of a presidential candidate. Donald Trump, though, was incapable of being anything but Donald Trump.
Oh, he was sympathetic. But he couldn’t help but take a few bows for his previous calls for a ban on Muslim immigration to the United States. As if that would have prevented the shooting. The killer was an American citizen.
And, of course, he attacked President Obama and his likely Democratic opponent for the presidency, Hillary Clinton, reckoning that they would “be admitting hundreds of thousands of refugees from the Middle East with no system to vet them, or to prevent the radicalization of the children and their children.” Since Obama and Clinton have advocated no such thing, Trump again demonstrated he will say anything, anytime, to suit his xenophobia.
He brought the show to Greensboro this week. He claimed, again sounding like a conspiracy theorist, that “people knew that bad things were going to happen” in advance of Orlando. He said the president was angrier at him, Trump, than he was at the murderer in Orlando.
In contrast, Clinton properly called for a focus on preventing the type of shooting that happened in Orlando by trying to get to the heart of what needs to be done: airstrikes against Islamic State extremists in Syria and Iraq, an investigative and enforcement team to find “lone wolves” of terrorism and getting Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait to put an end to their citizens backing extremists with their money. Clinton also called for a ban on assault weapons of the type Omar Mateen used to kill 49 people, and she reiterated her support for the LGBT community.
Imagine that. A presidential aspirant who wants to be a leader, who wants to advance practical but tough solutions to a worldwide crisis and who tries to bring people together in support of their fellow citizens, whatever ethnicity, race or sexual orientation they may be.
For someone whose father made his fortune possible in the construction industry, Donald Trump says virtually nothing that is constructive. His campaign speeches are full of fanciful notions and virtually no substance. Those who disagree with him are dismissed as “dumb.”
Clinton and President Obama, he says, want to take Americans’ guns away. Neither Clinton nor Obama has said anything remotely like that. Saying they have is not only wrong but irrational.
Trump has pledged to be more “presidential.” He could start by showing the grace and thoughtfulness he now either ignores or mocks in his opponents.