Thursday, February 14, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He forgot his talking points on school shootings.

Today was the anniversary of the mass murder at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Fourteen students and three school employees were killed when a gunman, a former student, opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle. Trump's most memorable most memorable contribution to the ensuing grief and debate was to claim that he'd have been braver than the police who responded.
Plus, you know, I got to watch some deputy sheriffs performing this week. And they weren’t exactly Medal of Honor winners. All right? The way they performed was, frankly, disgusting. They were listening to what was going on. The one in particular, he was then — he was early. And then you had three others that probably a similar deal a little bit later, but a similar kind of a thing. You know, I really believe — you don’t know until you test it — but I really believe I’d run in there, even if I didn’t had a weapon.
In a written statement today, Trump offered his thoughts and prayers to all communities affected by "gun violence."

But as the Washington Post noticed, when he tweeted about the statement later, he pointedly misquoted himself, changing the reference to "school violence."

This was presumably to avoid offending the gun manufacturing lobby. The NRA spent nearly three times as much money on Trump's 2016 campaign than it had on Mitt Romney's in 2012, in spite of the fact that Romney—unlike Trump—actually came into office agreeing with their position on gun control. Prior to his career in politics, Trump favored a ban on weapons like the one the Parkland shooter used, and during his presidency he has frequently expressed support for gun control measures, only to quickly reverse himself.

Maria Butina, a Russian citizen posing as a pro-gun activist, has pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges related to her association with the NRA. The NRA is suspected of having financed its campaign on behalf of Trump with money illegally funneled from Russian sources.

Why should I care about this?

  • Reasonable people can disagree on what the right gun control policy is, but the president really has to be able to remember what his is from day to day.
  • It's bad if a president is this exquisitely sensitive to lobbyists.
  • One way for a man of Trump's age to prove his physical bravery in the face of assault rifles would have been to not avoid the Vietnam draft.