Which cable news network would win the “Trump sure sounds presidential” sweepstakes in the wake of the horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas? Apparently, CNN decided it wanted the trophy in the Everyone Besides Fox News division.
First, it was John King with this bit just before the president addressed the nation:
“The president has just issued a tweet earlier today expressing his condolences. He's been very low-key about this one, very presidential...”
This was the tweet, which, “warmest condolences?” Whatever:
My warmest condolences and sympathies to the victims and families of the terrible Las Vegas shooting. God bless you!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 2, 2017
Then after the president's speech, we got a peek at how low the bar is for Trump after the nine months of chaos that have marked his administration:
JOHN BERMAN: Back with us John King, our chief national correspondent. John, in some ways, some of the most important words the president said were the first three, "My fellow Americans," bringing the country, trying to with his words bringing the country together. [...]
JOHN KING: Look, pitch-perfect from the president right there. Again, I'm sure already, there are some people out there because of the polarized environment we live in who won't like something they heard or won't trust something they heard or won't find truthfulness or credibility in something their president just said. I would hope that they would take a breath and let the president have his piece here in the sense he came out, he said he wanted to unify the country. [...] But as someone who covered the White House for 10 years through two different presidents, who's been in town for almost 30 years now, that was pitch-perfect.
POPPY HARLOW: Yeah. This is the time to bring the country together. That is exactly, John King, what the president did with those remarks. This is not a time for politics nor did he inject them at all into those remarks. And as John so beautifully said, “To my fellow Americans.”
Donald Trump, in the wake of a national tragedy, opened a speech with the words, “My fellow Americans,” and CNN is praising him for it. If the bar was buried any lower, it would be popping out of the ground on the other side of the planet.
As for the idea that the president's remarks brought “the country together,” where exactly is Harlow's evidence for that? There are plenty of people who are angry, who have lived through these mass shootings before in Orlando, Newtown, Charleston, San Bernardino, Aurora, and numerous other places. Presidents always get credit for “bringing the country together,” but if they try to do anything else — suggest gun control laws or providing mental health treatment could possibly prevent such tragedies, for example — they are immediately branded as divisive and told they are abdicating their roles as the Consoler in Chief.
Maybe some politics would be good in these situations every once in a while. Maybe some people in this country would like the president to do more than just lower the flag to half-staff and fly to the shooting site for a photo op, as Trump announced this morning he will do.
Besides, does anyone who has sat through Donald Trump's presidency or the campaign that preceded it really think that bringing the country together is something he is capable of doing, even if we had a measurable yardstick for doing so? Does anyone really think that the Trump we saw in this stilted speech this morning is the real Donald Trump and not the unhinged ranter who tweets insults at world leaders and starts feuds with football players who protest racial injustice?
Saying this statement was “pitch-perfect” is the most Beltway description possible. But maybe the pitch Americans want to hear has some politics in it.
Watch the president's full statement below.
Please note: This is a commentary piece. The views and opinions expressed within it are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the editorial opinion of IJR.