Being president means that when there is a major national tragedy — say, like some asshole shooting up a school and killing 17 people — you have to go to where it happened, make an official statement, and comfort the victims.
Two days after the shooting at Parkland, Trump traveled down to Florida, spent a total of 35 minutes in the hospital and visited with all of two victims. He also posed for some photos, like the one you see above. This picture is now his official Twitter background photo. Let’s take a look at the whole thing in all of it’s glory, shall we?
Marco Rubio looks like he’s posing for the opening credits of a CBS procedural, but hell, at least he’s appropriate. Trump, however, is standing there with a big smile on his face, doing a “thumb’s up” sign, looking like he just broke ground on a new casino. Who does that?
Trump, I guess, and in multiple pictures.
Melania is a model for crying out loud. Could she not have suggested a slightly more appropriate pose for him? Is this not her area of expertise?
As many on Twitter pointed out, this stands in stark contrast to Obama’s behavior in the face of similar tragedies.
This is likely because President Obama, being a normal human being with normal human feelings and emotions, was able to read the room and see that something like a “thumb’s up” gesture, or bunny ears, would not have been the thing to do at that moment. A heavy diet of “fuck your feelings,” it seems, leads to inappropriate social behavior.
His behavior at a very brief presser was also rather odd.
That whole interaction lasted about 45 seconds, and then he was off to Mar-a-lago, for golf and overdone steaks.
As the Washington Post notes, Trump largely focused on the performance of responders, rather than on the victims, as he has done after other tragedies.
Instead, he followed a tried-and-true playbook for responding to crises, as he has a mass shooting in Las Vegas and a hurricane in Texas: leaning on praise of the responders — casting their response in hyperbolic terms — while making quick and choreographed stops that do not draw protesters or detractors or large crowds.
In Texas, he heaped praise on emergency workers in a Corpus Christi firehouse before visiting a sheriff’s office, where he sat around a large conference room table — as he did in Florida — and praised those rescuing the victims.
This method allows him to put a smiling face and a “thumb’s up” on national tragedies — The responders did good! Three cheers for the responders! — rather than having to confront the actual horrible thing that happened, and the people’s lives who have been shattered. Whether it’s because he actually doesn’t have the emotional capacity to address that, or because he feels he can’t address it without leading people to go “Hey! This is really bad! It seems like this horrible thing could be prevented if we passed a few gun control laws,” I don’t know. It’s probably both.
As great as first responders are, and as much credit as they deserve, it’s the victims and their families who should be the focus right after a tragedy.
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