Littwin: No tragedy is too horrible for Trump to exploit

The predictability of Donald Trump’s reaction to the horror in Orlando does not make it any less shocking.

As you must have heard, and probably still can’t quite absorb, the man who would be (and, yes, could be) president took the opportunity to make the deaths of 50 people somehow all about him. No tragedy, it appears, is too horrible for Trump to personally exploit.

The offending tweet — just one of many by Trump — showed up soon after the news of the terror attack in Orlando. The attack proved, he said, that he was “right” about something, although it’s still not clear what, and that he appreciated “the congrats” on his wisdom. It would have been just another day hammering away on Twitter except that Trump wrote this in the aftermath of the worst mass shooting in American history: the horrific attack on an LGBT nightclub.

Here’s the tweet in full: “Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism. I don’t want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!”

I’m not sure which is more troubling — the utter lack of empathy or the tone of self-congratulation as a nation mourned its dead. Or maybe it’s this: That in this moment of grief, we are forced to imagine a President Trump.

The shooter, Omar Mateen, was a New York-born son of Afghan immigrants. As Mateen began his night of terror, he called 911 to tell an operator that he was pledging his loyalty to ISIS. That, apparently, was all Trump had to hear. It’s unclear whether this was an ISIS operation or a so-called lone wolf operation or what exactly motivated Mateen, but the unclear parts didn’t seem to faze Trump. Nor did the fact that this was an assault aimed directly at the gay community. That gays were targeted, that ISIS has its own terrible record of homophobic atrocities, was clearly at the heart of this attack, which, as Barack Obama said, was an attack on American values.

In a short speech, Obama called the shootings an act of terror and an act of hate while lamenting, once again, a nation’s unwillingness to face up to the crisis of gun violence. We have seen this Obama before. We have seen it too many times. We have seen too many disturbed young men with easy access to assault-style guns and the carnage that follows.

And we have also seen this Trump before. He said that Obama’s unwillingness to say the words “radical Islam” meant he should resign and that a Hillary Clinton presidency would mean many “hundreds of thousands” of Middle Eastern migrants coming to our shores. He didn’t have to mention that these migrants/supposedly-would-be-terrorists could easily and legally arm themselves.

In a statement, Trump would explain: “If we do not get tough and smart real fast, we are not going to have a country anymore. Because our leaders are weak, I said this was going to happen — and it is only going to get worse. I am trying to save lives and prevent the next terrorist attack. We can’t afford to be politically correct anymore.”

Trump believes the tough, smart course is his proposal — or, as he sometimes calls it, his suggestion — to temporarily ban Muslims. As Trump noted in another tweet, “I called it and asked for the ban.”

Yes, he actually said he called it, as if he’d called that the next pitch was going to be a screwball. At the risk of being politically correct, I should note that a ban would have had exactly no impact on the Orlando attack since Mateen was born in America. As James Fallows points out in The Atlantic, in a series he calls the “Trump Time Capsule,” Trump’s ban could have worked only if it had retroactively banned Mateen’s parents from immigrating decades ago or if Trump meant to expel those American citizens who now happen to be Muslim.

You’d have thought universal Muslim bashing might be a harder sell in the days so soon after Muhammad Ali’s death, but, of course, this is the same Trump who has been reeling from his attack on a judge for being “Mexican,” even though the “Mexican” was born in Indiana. Faced with the “Indiana” problem, Trump said that wherever the judge was born, his “Mexican heritage” precluded him from judging Trump fairly.

Many Republican leaders were forced to concede that Trump’s attack on the judge was racist, even as they said they’d still vote for him. Many of those same leaders had previously hit Trump for his completely unenforceable, un-American, religious-test Muslim ban. What will they say now if Trump doubles down?

Whatever else we know about the terror in Orlando, we know that it changes the political narrative. We just don’t know how. Clinton followed Obama’s speech with a statement that also called the attack an act of terror and an act of hate. She told the LGBT community that they had “millions of allies” across America and that she was one of them. Trump, meanwhile, is scheduled to give a speech today that was originally previewed as an attack on all he finds wrong with the Clintons. But following the Orlando attacks, he now says he will also talk about national security, so the stakes for the speech could hardly be higher.

What Trump will say is anyone’s guess. But there can be little doubt that he will appreciate the congrats from the Trumpists after he says it.

Photo credit: Fibonacci Blue, Creative Commons, Flickr 


  1. Early last Sunday morning Omar Mateen called an Orlando, Florida 911 operator to pledge his allegiance to ISIS and then went to a local gay nightclub and committed the deadliest mass shooting in the history of the US, killing 49 people and wounding 53 others.

    Yet, amazingly, all Mr. Littwin seems willing to discuss is a tweet from Donald Trump. That’s right, a tweet.

    You can’t make this stuff up!

    Had Mr. Trump used Twitter to condone or celebrate the killings then, maybe, Mr. Littwin’s overwrought concern with this tweet would be justified but Mr. Trump did neither.

    This column goes far beyond simply demonstrating Mr. Littwin’s apparently incurable tone deafness, it goes far beyond his simply being a political hack, even far beyond a clumsy attempt to do exactly what he accuses Mr. Trump of: politically exploiting the tragic deaths of 49 people. It suggests a dangerous separation from reality.

    Despite Mr. Littwin’s best efforts to deflect attention from it this fact remains incontrovertible: The killer, Omar Mateen, “called 911 to tell an operator that he was pledging his allegiance to ISIS”.

    But even that apparently doesn’t provide enough clarity for Mr. Littwin who incredibly claims it’s unclear “what exactly motivated Mateen”.

    Really? Because one sentence later Mr. Littwin admits “That gays were targeted, that ISIS has its own terrible record of homophobic atrocities, was clearly at the heart of this attack.”

    So what exactly remains to be clarified? It would appear his motivation was either ISIS or homophobia and he didn’t call 911 to tell an operator he hated homosexuals. What part of “allegiance to ISIS” does Mr. Littwin not understand?

    What sort of clarity/proof is Mr. Littwin looking for, a 2016 Gold Card ISIS membership with Omar Mateen’s name on it?

    In this column, ostensibly written about the deadliest mass shooting in the history of the US, Mr. Littwin mentions Mr. Trump’s name twenty-two (22) times while mentioning Omar Mateen, the killer of 49 people, only five (5) times and ISIS, the terrorist organization that either inspired or directed Mateen’s actions (as if that really makes a difference), only three (3) times.

    You can’t make this stuff up, either!

    Mr. Littwin wasn’t nearly as concerned about clarity last November when three people were killed at a Planned Parenthood Clinic in Colorado Springs. The day after this horrific tragedy—-that’s right, the day after—Mr. Littwin wrote a column titled : “On Republican rhetoric and the Planned Parenthood shooting”. Less than 24 hours after this terrible shooting and absent any proof Mr. Littwin was already suggesting that admitted killer Robert Dear was motivated by Republican rhetoric!

    So, to recap: In Orlando Mr. Littwin says he’s unclear about the killer’s motivation despite the killer’s call to 911 pledging his allegiance to ISIS but yet one day after the tragic shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs Mr. Littwin had total clarity and suggested the killer was motivated by Republican rhetoric despite having absolutely no proof.

    Former Representative Barney Frank has already achieved clarity on the Orlando tragedy: “(The Orlando attack) reflects the virulence of the hatred in this sector of Islam.”

    So has the New York Times: “This is the second mass shooting in the United States linked to sympathizers of the Islamic State since December, when a married couple killed 14 people in a rampage in San Bernardino, Calif.”.

    It would appear Mr. Littwin is on the wrong side of history.


    Thousands of Americans participated in that most benign of civic rituals in San Jose, California, on Thursday night: seeing a presidential candidate speak. Of course, that candidate was Donald Trump, so as these engaged citizens streamed out of the arena, they were subjected to astonishing levels of violence. An angry mob pelted eggs, tomatoes, and bottles at the spectators—as well as the police, who tried (and failed) to maintain some semblance of order. Other Trump supporters were set upon and punched. One was left with blood streaming down his face. (See representative video below.)

    The mayor of San Jose, Democrat Sam Liccardo, reacted angrily to the events. Not that he was particularly upset at the violent mob that attacked innocent Americans, of course. No, his ire was directed at Mr. Trump. “At some point Donald Trump needs to take responsibility for the irresponsible behavior of his campaign,” the mayor said. Apparently it was downright “irresponsible” of Trump to even set foot in California’s third largest city. – The Weekly Standard

    “Some Trump protesters (in San Jose)surrounded the car of a presumed Trump supporter as the vehicle was leaving the convention center’s garage. Protesters were shaking the car and smashed its taillight. Protesters also surrounded and banged on police cars.” –

    “Donald Trump supporters leaving the presumptive GOP nominee’s rally in San Jose on Thursday were pounced by protesters, some of whom threw punches and eggs.

    The protesters chased and taunted Trump’s supporters outside the San Jose Convention Center. They surrounded one woman and threw eggs and bottles at her.” –

    “Another young man was chased down like prey. He ran until finding some police officers who stopped his attackers.” –

    “Protesters waved Mexican flags and one could be seen burning an American flag, with another burning Trump’s “Make America Great Hat.” Some chanted “F— Donald Trump” and “Donald Trump has got to go” outside the San Jose Convention Center, where Trump held his rally.” – CNN

    “Hillary Clinton’s folks billed her San Diego speech Thursday as a big deal. And it certainly was a prime opportunity to lay out her views on foreign policy and America’s role in the world.

    But what she delivered was a 45-minute rant against Donald Trump — with nary a clue about her plans for leading America on the international stage.
    Worse, her string of dump-on-Trump quips might’ve worked better if she had substituted her name for his, starting with her attack on Trump’s “series of rants” — a perfect description of her own speech.

    Clinton called Trump “temperamentally unfit” to be commander-in-chief. But how would you describe an ex-top official who continually lies to the public and holds herself above the law? – NY Post

    On Friday, inventor of the Dean Scream and Hillary Clinton supporter Howard Dean said the Democratic ticket for president needs some youth to prevent it from being too old.

    The former Vermont governor made the comments when asked about who should be the party’s vice presidential nominee.

    “I strongly believe that we ought to have someone under 50 on the ticket. I think the baby boomers have run this country for too long,” Dean told MSNBC. “We stepped away from that with Barack Obama. We don’t normally go back a generation.” . – The Weekly Standard

    “’Cause I don’t have no use
    For what you loosely call the truth” – Tina Turner

    Greenlight a Vet
    Folds of Honor
    Special Operations Warriors Foundation
    Veterans Day – November 11, 2016

  2. Donald Trump:
    “Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don’t want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!”

    Now you see why reporters aren’t quoting Trump and have to hope you won’t read the speech for yourself.

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