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Parkland shooting reveals Trump's deepest flaws

"I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose voters."When ...

Posted: Feb 25, 2018 3:21 PM
Updated: Feb 25, 2018 3:21 PM

"I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose voters."

When then-candidate Donald Trump raised his hand to imitate firing a pistol, he couldn't have known that a mass shooting at a Parkland, Florida, high school would turn his bravado into shame. Today his bragging performance -- something no thinking candidate would ever say and do -- is a haunting reminder of his failure as a politician, a president and a human being.

At other moments he stressed that he was so rich that he couldn't be bought by campaign donors, which meant that only he could act on the nation's behalf without yielding to special interest pressure.

Now, in the days after Parkland, when a response -- independent of special interest pressure -- is greatly needed, the President cannot deliver. Were he really the man he promised to be during the campaign, he would have been free to advocate any policy. However, during the campaign, he benefited from help by the NRA to the tune of $31 million - nearly $11.5 million to support Trump and almost $20 million against Hillary Clinton -- and voters who listen to the organization supported him. Thus, when he sat down with grieving survivors of Parkland and other shootings, he was burdened like any other politician who tries to make common cause with ties to a special interest group. With dry eyes, and little apparent emotion, Trump offered the idea of adding more guns to schools, by arming teachers.

Trump won a job that requires some of the virtues he advertised and many more, including the ability to set ego aside to unite a diverse and disparate people. At his first opportunity to do so -- his inaugural speech -- Trump showed he didn't possess this quality as he claimed to be taking office at a time of "American carnage" and appealed only to the loyalists who he thought would let him shoot someone on Fifth Avenue.

With his first serious order, which attempted to close America's borders to people coming from certain Muslim majority countries, Trump showed he would use his special powers -- independence and the strength of his base -- to pursue unpopular ends through means that many, including some federal judges, found questionable.

Time and again, Trump demonstrated that his do-it-my-way ego, and not some special gift for leadership, was driving his presidency.

- Faced with a planet-threatening environmental catastrophe, he pulled out of the agreement that binds every other nation on Earth to a plan to slow climate change.

- Confronted with the fact of Russia's effort to influence our election and degrade our democracy, he has cozied up to Vladimir Putin.

- Challenged by a troubled immigration system that has left many so-called Dreamers in limbo, he created a crisis by moving to end DACA and then failing to craft a real solution.

- Given the opportunity to bring America's infrastructure up to snuff, he hasn't been able to make any real progress.

With every challenge, Trump has had the opportunity to fulfill his promise to be the president he promised to be. Time and again, he either refused or failed to understand the actual power he possessed. In between the ceremonies where he signed documents with a flourish, Trump could have fashioned bipartisan majorities to enact policies most Americans favor. Nowhere is this more true than it is in the area of gun violence.

Repeated polls have found that a majority of Democrats and Republicans supports background checks for every gun purchase, barring people on the no-fly list from purchasing guns, a federal database to track all gun sales and a ban on assault-style rifles.

The 17 people killed at Parkland were shot by a gunman wielding the overwhelming power of an assault weapon. The same type of firearm was used in recent mass murders in Las Vegas, Sutherland Springs, Texas, Orlando, Florida, and San Bernardino, California. The same weapon was used in the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in 2012.

Sandy Hook, where 20 first graders and six adults were killed, was supposed to change everything, but it didn't. Politicians captured by the donations and voting power of the National Rifle Association blocked the kinds of laws most Americans favored and the killings continued.

The independence Trump claimed was supposed to make it possible for him to use common sense to solve serious problems. He was, as he told me once, "the people's billionaire" and this meant that he had a kind of superpower that would enable him to defend the nation, heal partisan divides, create coalitions, and generally Make America Great Again.

But by forming an alliance with the NRA, President Trump would have to rely on some other qualities to act with the kind of strength he claims to possess. Unfortunately, even he seems to know that he is deficient.

Study the notes written on a card the President held, which a photographer captured, and you see he wanted to remember to at least demonstrate that he cared. At the top of the list was, "What would you want me to know about your experience?" At the bottom is written, "I hear you."

The empathy Trump's notecard stressed that he practice has come naturally to most presidents. In similar times of crisis, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and others have instinctively shared in the grief of victims and been moved to act. The fact that Trump needed a written reminder to show sensitivity, curiosity, kindness, compassion, courage and conviction is a pathetic and ultimately unsettling sign that even after a year he can't quite do his job.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 764448

Reported Deaths: 13965
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1049701803
Lake567981029
Allen42685698
St. Joseph37253568
Hamilton37131426
Elkhart29699470
Tippecanoe23347230
Vanderburgh23106404
Porter19538327
Johnson18755391
Hendricks18012321
Madison13463345
Clark13450198
Vigo12789255
LaPorte12533224
Monroe12494178
Delaware11100198
Howard10612237
Kosciusko9736123
Hancock8707149
Bartholomew8235157
Warrick8031157
Floyd7975181
Grant7337181
Wayne7222201
Boone7145105
Morgan6886142
Marshall6323116
Dubois6267118
Cass6083111
Dearborn598578
Noble595790
Henry5939111
Jackson514677
Shelby509097
Lawrence4901127
Gibson460696
Montgomery454492
Clinton453555
DeKalb451585
Harrison450576
Whitley414745
Huntington411781
Steuben409560
Miami404073
Jasper399455
Knox387091
Putnam383762
Wabash367383
Adams351656
Ripley350471
Jefferson340486
White338954
Daviess3084100
Wells302281
Greene292285
Decatur291493
Fayette285864
Posey280435
Scott278058
LaGrange276972
Clay273048
Washington252437
Randolph247083
Jennings238149
Spencer237531
Fountain233750
Starke229859
Owen221059
Sullivan219043
Fulton207645
Jay202832
Carroll196522
Orange190556
Perry189139
Vermillion179644
Rush177027
Franklin171635
Tipton171547
Parke153616
Pike141234
Blackford137832
Pulaski122948
Newton122436
Benton109215
Brown105743
Crawford105116
Martin92515
Warren87615
Switzerland8308
Union73510
Ohio58211
Unassigned0428

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1120922

Reported Deaths: 20467
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1300711493
Cuyahoga1169882259
Hamilton822191259
Montgomery533351059
Summit487911014
Lucas43688832
Butler39879614
Stark33752937
Lorain25937509
Warren24850312
Mahoning22663612
Lake21429396
Clermont20338260
Delaware19088138
Licking16820227
Trumbull16744491
Fairfield16735207
Medina15800276
Greene15468254
Clark14325308
Portage13391218
Wood13327201
Allen12026245
Richland11707213
Miami10976228
Wayne9238227
Columbiana9182236
Muskingum9114137
Pickaway8729123
Tuscarawas8706254
Marion8691140
Erie8109166
Ashtabula7264179
Hancock7039134
Ross7004165
Geauga6939153
Scioto6636108
Belmont6203179
Lawrence5905104
Union590049
Jefferson5718162
Huron5622122
Sandusky5467130
Darke5436130
Seneca5373128
Washington5352111
Athens526260
Auglaize506787
Mercer490285
Shelby480497
Knox4603112
Madison446966
Ashland441898
Defiance438099
Fulton435275
Putnam4349104
Crawford4103111
Brown408862
Preble3940107
Logan391479
Clinton387966
Ottawa374981
Highland364668
Williams355478
Champaign347560
Guernsey329554
Jackson321154
Perry298050
Morrow294543
Fayette287950
Hardin278865
Henry276967
Holmes2725102
Coshocton272461
Van Wert251465
Gallia248450
Adams247758
Pike244537
Wyandot235257
Hocking221763
Carroll200349
Paulding179342
Meigs150740
Noble137639
Monroe137445
Harrison115038
Morgan111524
Vinton87117
Unassigned03
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Showers and storms are possible early Sunday morning, but we'll be dry by sunrise. Partly sunny skies and hot conditions are expected for the second half of the weekend.
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