President Trump’s penchant for barbed words and aggressive counterpunching got him elected. Often we find it refreshing or at least acceptable. These days, though, Trump should lay down his rhetorical arms.
Anybody blaming Trump for the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting or the mailing of pipe bombs to prominent Democrats is wrong. The complaint that Trump should beg off the campaign trail these days strikes us as cynical calls to unilaterally disarm — nobody is telling Joe Biden to stop campaigning for Democrats.
But it’s not only the Democrats, the CNN anchors, and the Still-Never-Trumpers wincing at Trump’s remarks in the hours and days following these terroristic actions. In such times, the president should try to be a healer.
Millions of Americans, not merely the victims and their families, feel rattled by the shooting. Certainly Jewish Americans do. Also, many Christians who were worshipping on Sunday were unnerved by these attacks on their spiritual older cousins.
You can’t be a healer if you’re going on the attack against some of your countrymen who may need healing. Blasting “The Fake News Media” as “the true Enemy of the People” repeatedly on Twitter in the 48 hours following the attacks is unseemly. Calling Democratic donors “crazed” in these days is also not fitting.
Trump as president could save his rhetorical attacks for the terrorists, the anti-Semites, and other evildoers, rather than for the media and the Democrats.
It’s not that the media and Democrats will take a break from going after Trump. But there’s a time for punching back and a time for not doing so. Simply, we hold the president, Republican or Democrat, to a higher standard than we hold the 2 p.m. anchor on CNN or some random congressman from Danville, Calif.
If decorum and respect for the dead doesn’t convince Trump not to throw political bombs after and on a tragedy, maybe politics will. Voters do not like cynical politicking in the wake of a tragedy. Democrats lost a Senate seat in 2002 when the party turned Paul Wellstone’s memorial service into a raucous and partisan political rally.
Voters elected Trump to throw punches, but not every day.