During the last White House Correspondents Dinner, comedian Michelle Wolf joked that Sarah Huckabee Sanders “burns facts and then she uses that ash to create a perfect smoky eye.” The press secretary wasn’t burning anything, however, when she stated that president Donald Trump wasn’t any more directly responsible for the bombs addressed to Democrats than Sen. Bernie Sanders was for one of his followers shooting Rep. Steve Scalise at a baseball practice for members of the GOP.
As a result of the current attempted assassinations a briskly contested election, one that promised record turnouts, has been thrust into a maelstrom of madness and recrimination. The bomber didn’t just target individuals, though, he targeted the news media as well. Only the most partisan consider objective reporting to be “fake news,” in defiance of provable facts. This is a democracy, not a totalitarian state where reporters can be jailed, or killed, as just happened in a Saudi embassy in Turkey.
In response to the present threat, Trump told the nation that it was a time for the country to come together. That’s good advice, but the president failed to follow it when, hours later, he presided over a rally that featured his usual recriminatory attacks on opponents.
Instead of addressing the fact that he contributes to a coarsening of American politics with inflammatory language, Trump bemoaned that Republican early voting was slacking because of “the bombing stuff.” It was a revealing comment that demonstrated the president’s commitment to his own self-preservation, often over the good of the country. The sad fact is that “coming together,” for Trump, means following his lead without reservation. It’s a fundamental misunderstanding of his job that disrespects the office.
There will always be nuts, mental defectives, studiously malevolent sorts who derive perverse pleasure in frightening, or harming others. They can’t be allowed to befoul the present, nor shape the future. Ending toleration of hate speech, acquiescence in violence by failure to condemn it, and respectfully listening to critics, in lieu or unrelenting attacks, is imperative in a free country.
As first citizen of the Republic, the president is expected to set an example, to moderate passions, and temper the climate that gave rise to the recent tragic events. Let’s hope and pray Trump will rise to this occasion. America will be better for it.