In times of crises throughout his young presidency, President Donald Trump has picked fights on Twitter, congratulated himself while others suffered, played a lot of golf and made it all about him.
Consoler-in-chief, he is not.
With that in mind, Trump’s aides had to be relieved Wednesday that the president kept his crass side at home when he visited victims of Sunday’s mass shooting in Las Vegas, as well as the police and rescue workers who rushed in to help.
Trump praised the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, saying he is now an even bigger fan of its cops. He and First Lady Melania tried to lift the spirits of victims at the hospital. It was a dramatically different demonstration of concern and empathy — not exactly Trump strengths — than he showed in Puerto Rico just the day before. And it was as welcomed as it was rare. Whether it came naturally or not, he took a stab at compassion for people on the ropes.
On Tuesday, Trump was flippant on his visit to Puerto Rico, where the entire island is struggling to recover and rebuild after Hurricane Maria left it in ruins last month. You might have hoped the president would show up with his head hanging, embarrassed by his offensive Twitter attacks just days before, when he whined that San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz and others “want everything to be done for them.”
Instead, he sang the same old song, “I, Me, Mine.”
He commended Gov. Ricardo Rossello for being complimentary of the Trump administration for its response in the wake of Hurricane Maria. Told there were 16 deaths on the island, Trump said thousands died during Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and he called Katrina a “real catastrophe.” (Later Tuesday, the governor said the death toll was up to 34.)
An attempt at a playful joke fell flat. “I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, but you’ve thrown our budget a little out of whack because we’ve spent a lot of money on Puerto Rico,” Trump said. “That’s fine. We’ve saved a lot of lives.”
Something as simple as distributing supplies turned into a carnival. He pretended he was shooting basketballs as he tossed rolls of paper towels to the crowd.
Trump’s public events have consistently dehumanized all involved.
This time, in Las Vegas, he behaved more appropriately.
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