Think back to 9/11, back when thousands of New Jersey Muslims were not actually cheering the destruction of the World Trade Center, and try to imagine British Prime Minister Tony Blair criticizing Mayor Rudy Giuliani for his performance in that ultimate moment of terror-driven crisis.
I said to try to imagine it because you can’t. It’s not imaginable. It’s not conceivable. It could never have happened. It would never have happened. And not because there’s anything special about Tony Blair or about Rudy Giuliani, but because — as all-caps-prone Trump might tweet — IT’S NOT HOW PEOPLE ACT!
No one would do this. Except maybe Ann Coulter. And Donald Trump. I’d put it at approximately two people out of six billion.
That Trump has willfully caused a major distraction for our closest ally in this time of crisis — next: Trump criticizes Churchill’s we-shall-fight-on-the-beaches speech — is unforgivable. That the president of the United States has used a time of chaos and fear to sow more chaos and fear, is shocking even by Trumpian standards. The British are famous for their stiff-upper-lipped resilience against attacks from their enemies, but how about from their friends?
It’s shocking, but not surprising. It’s not surprising at all. It is what Trump does. He doesn’t like the London mayor, Shadiq Khan, a Muslim who has publicly repudiated Trump for some of his more provocative anti-Muslim statements, and so he takes something that Khan has said entirely out of context and then tweet-rips him for it.
Here’s the Trump tweet:
At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and Mayor of London says there is "no reason to be alarmed!"
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 4, 2017
Here’s what Khan actually said during a BBC interview in which he noted he was “appalled and furious that these cowardly terrorists would target” London and that “we will never let them win, nor will we allow them to cower our city.” He then added that “Londoners will see an increased police presence today and over the course of the next few days. No reason to be alarmed. One of the things the police, all of us, need to do is make sure we’re as safe as we possibly can be.”
This is not a close call. Trump twisted Khan’s words for his own twisted purposes. This is Trump at his ugliest, Trump at his most unfeeling and Trump basically unrebuked by most of his party (see: Gardner, Cory) for his actions.
Of course, if it had only been that, it would have been bad enough. But this was far worse. We keep looking for a Trump bottom. I thought we found it at the very beginning of the campaign with his Mexican rapist line and with his John McCain-not-a-hero line. If not those, it would surely be his mocking of the disabled reporter. And if not that, it would have to be his grab-’em-by-the-pussy audio.
But no, no, no and no. This has to be his lowest yet.
We need to recap because it’s not enough just to say that Trump made a series of inappropriate tweets, including a gratuitous attack on gun control. And it’s not enough to finally concede the absurdity of those who say we should ignore Trumpian tweets when they are, in fact, the preferred mode of communication for the most powerful man in the world.
Soon after the attack, Trump retweeted a Drudge Report story on it. Think of that. Trump has direct access to the greatest intelligence-gathering organizations in the world and he quotes an unconfirmed Drudge story. He does this even as the London authorities are treating the attack with the caution anyone (or anyone else, that is) would. Lives are at stake. Terrorists may be at large, but Trump wants to get out there first.
He didn’t stop there. He then blamed political correctness — yes, political correctness — for the eight minutes of terror on London Bridge without bothering to try to explain. Only then did he remember to tweet his support for the British people. Only then.
After making the obligatory we’re-with-you tweet — but no formal statement — he chose to blast his first attack on the courts for blocking the two versions of his travel ban. There would be more. By early Monday morning, Trump had written this:
People, the lawyers and the courts can call it whatever they want, but I am calling it what we need and what it is, a TRAVEL BAN!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 5, 2017
The Justice Dept. should have stayed with the original Travel Ban, not the watered down, politically correct version they submitted to S.C.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 5, 2017
You don’t have to be a lawyer to understand what Trump has done here. The argument his lawyers have made for his rejected revised travel ban is that it’s not really a travel ban stopping Muslims from entering America, but rather a cautious approach to ensuring that those who would come here from countries plagued by radical violence are properly vetted. The other argument the lawyers are making is that it’s unfair to use what Trump had said as a candidate to deconstruct his position as president.
You could say Trump has blown his cover. He rips his own Justice Department for a memo that he signed to replace the original that, if you remember, banned our allies from Iraq and banned those with green cards. Trump acts as if he had played no role in the revised ban, as if someone else had signed his name. And we now have it from his own cell phone that a ban is, in fact, a ban and that, if Trump had his way, it would be a far tougher ban.
The tweets were so unsupportably dumb that even George Conway — husband of Kellyanne Conway, last seen saying we shouldn’t pay attention to her boss’s tweets — took to twitter to say they had undermined Trump’s case. George Conway had recently taken himself out of the running for a key job in the Justice Department and calls himself a strong Trump supporter. And yet.
In Trump’s Rose Garden speech on the Paris accord, in which he basically walked away from America’s role as world leader in combating climate change, the president asked when the world would stop laughing at the United States. He had it all wrong, of course.
The world’s not laughing at us. The world is laughing at him. Or, I should say, the world would be laughing at him if not for one thing — as ridiculous as the mad tweeter can be, he is just that much more frightening.
Photo by David Holt, via Flickr: Creative Commons