Tuesday, October 30, 2018

What did Donald Trump do today?

He crashed funerals.

Trump spent three hours in Pittsburgh today, supposedly to visit police officers wounded while responding to the murder of eleven worshippers at the Tree of Life Synagogue. But he did so against the wishes of those most directly affected.

The mayor of Pittsburgh, a rabbi at Tree of Life, victims' families, and other members of the city's Jewish community alternately asked, begged, and demanded that Trump stay away. 

Trump had also reached out to the mayor and other prominent Pennsylvania politicians to join him at a "rally" in the city. All refused. According to reporter Howard Fineman, Trump also tried to entice Democratic leaders Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Chuck Schumer into appearing with him by (falsely) claiming to each that the other had already agreed.

In fact, no elected politician of either party—including the state's Republican senator, Pat Toomey—was willing to join Trump in Pittsburgh.

The attempt to show sympathy for the victims is an about-face for Trump, who had to be cajoled into condemning anti-Semitic violence by his daughter and son-in-law, who are Jewish. Trump's first reaction to the murders was to blame the synagogue for not having armed guards present. (Four police officers, all armed, were also shot.)

It's not the first time that Trump, who struggles to even feign empathy, has been barred from other people's mourning. The families of former First Lady Barbara Bush and Sen. John McCain, both of whom died in the past year, warned Trump that he would not be welcome at their funerals.

Why does this matter?

  • Intruding on grief for political gain is just about as sleazy as politics gets.
  • Past a certain point, jumping into the spotlight is pathological.