Donald Trump doesn’t care about school shootings. When the press and public demand that the president address issues that he clearly doesn’t care about, it only makes the problem worse—like a teacher squeezing an insincere apology out of a bully who’s just going to hit you again the moment she leaves the room.
Trump spoke Thursday about the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. It was a warm, caring and very emotional speech that we know wasn’t heartfelt because he expressed his true feelings on Twitter around 4 this morning:
Translation: It’s the students’ and teachers’ fault that the shooting occurred, and they should have screamed about this dangerous kid more. But the fact is, the FBI was warned last year about how Nikolas Cruz posted that he wanted to be a professional school shooter!
When the president spoke Thursday around 11:30 a.m. EST, he took all of six-and-a-half-minutes to address the tragedy. That’s less time than he took to rant about NFL players kneeling; that’s less time than he took to praise alleged wife beater and former White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter; that’s barely more time than it takes for Doug E. Fresh to go on.
Trump didn’t name any of the victims; nor did he praise the brave students or teachers. He spent most of his limited time giving an “after-school special” lecture about how you never need to be alone in high school—and if you’re sad, there is someone you should reach out to. It was a speech seemingly intended to touch the heart of the next shooter out there who apparently just needs a hug in order to not murder his classmates.
Mind you, if this wasn’t the most divisive president in the history of presidents, then maybe his entreaties for peace and love would make a difference, but he is who he is, so his pleas don’t hold weight and they won’t change anything.
The most glaring part of the speech came at the end, when the president pledged that America must “tackle the difficult issue of mental health.” He didn’t say “guns” once in his speech. Trump took pains to make no mention of guns. If Tim Gunn had jumped in front of him, ripped off his well-tailored sleeves, flexed and screamed, “What do you think of these??” Trump would still have found a way to say, “How’s that mental health going?”
Mental health has become the ultimate red herrng for Republicans who don’t want to talk about guns no matter who gets shot, or how bloody or egregious and avoidable the crime may have been. The country is full of people with “mental health problems,” and they aren’t shooting up schools every week. You know who is shooting up schools and nightclubs and office buildings every week? People who are legally allowed to buy AR-15s. Fix that problem and maybe we can stop with the disingenuous chorus of tweets citing “thoughts and prayers” every 60 hours.
Alas, we know that Trump won’t do anything; nor will Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell or House Speaker Paul Ryan. When Republicans can get shot up at their own baseball game and still refuse to pass meaningful gun legislation, there’s no reason to think that another shooting of innocent kids will spur them to action.
But as student survivor David Hogg just told CNN, somebody has to act like adults.
Since Trump isn’t an adult, and neither are the Republicans in Congress, it’s time for the public to act like adults and vote these gun-fetishizing incompetents out of office this fall—and then demand some real change.