Monday, February 26, 2018

What did Donald Trump do today?

He bragged that he’d have rushed the Parkland mass murderer without a gun.

At a meeting of state governors at the White House this morning, Trump once again brought up the fact that the lightly armed sheriff’s deputy assigned as a resource officer to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School did not confront the attacker during a crucial four-minute period. Trump called this “frankly disgusting” and “a disgrace.” Response from actual law enforcement officers has been mixed, though police psychologists have said that a "freezing response" is common in such situations even among trained officers. The deputy has since resigned.

Trump then pivoted to a favorite topic: himself. He declared, "I think, I really believe I’d run in there even if I didn’t have a weapon.”

The evidence for Trump’s physical courage isn’t compelling. By his own admission, he is squeamish around blood, which is why he says he refused to help an elderly man who fell in one of his ballrooms. He actively avoided service in Vietnam, pleading for a draft deferment on the grounds that he had a bone spur in one foot. More recently, he has recoiled in obvious fear from an angry protestor and an annoyed bald eagle. (Trump called the bird "seriously dangerous.") These are fairly normal reactions to apparent physical threats, but they don't do much to support his belief in his great personal bravery.

Trump's claim doesn't leave much room for interpretation, but at the afternoon briefing, Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that what Trump really meant was that, in such a situation, he would be "a leader" because he "would have wanted to have played a role."

So what?

  • A need to be seen as a hero even when you’ve done nothing heroic is not a good sign of mental health. 
  • It’s bad if the President of the United States talks like an Internet Tough Guy meme. 
  • If anything counts as politicizing tragedy, this does.