Could there possibly be a president more unfit to soothe us after a school slaughter than a wholly owned subsidiary of the NRA?
I get why Trump waited roughly 24 hours to address the latest gun rampage. Talking candidly about the root cause of our home-grown epidemic is clearly not his forte. It’s hard to say anything of substance when you’ve been gelded by the gun lobby.
The NRA spent $30 million to boost Trump in 2016 — more than the group has ever lavished on a presidential candidate — and it has earned a rich return on its investment. Trump’s remarks yesterday were Exhibit A. He uttered one passing reference to “gunfire” from a “shooter,” but otherwise, not once in his 700 words did he say the words gun or rifle or assault weapon, and he certainly never singled out the AR-15 decimation machine.
He said, “To every parent, teacher, and child who is hurting so badly, we are here for you, whatever you need, whatever we can do, to ease your pain.” But that rote gesture of sympathy is rendered worthless by the fact that he’s politically incapable of doing whatever they need. And his assurance that Washington will do “whatever we can do” is rendered worthless by the fact that he and his Republican pals, starting with NRA investment Paul Ryan (the House’s top recipient in ’16), are politically barred from doing anything.
A real leader, as opposed to a weak pretender, would’ve said in his address, “The time has come to re-enact a federal ban on assault weapons so that kids can’t buy weapons of war.” We actually had such a ban for 10 years until George W. Bush and the Republican Congress let it lapse in 2004. There’s no way the NRA would ever sanction a new one, there’s no way the NRA will accept limits on ammo, and there’s no chance Trump and the other profiles in cowardice would ever buck their powerful investor.
Lacking any such courage, Trump’s Thursday words rang predictably hollow — and, at times, unintentionally hilarious, like his little homily about how “the bonds that sustain us are those of family,” given his extramarital bond-breaking with Stormy Daniels and the newly unearthed evidence of extramarital bond-breaking with a Playmate of the Year. All of which made it gagworthy to hear him quote “God’s word in Scripture.”
At one point he mouthed, “We must also work together to create a culture in our country that embraces the dignity of life,” but it’s hard to see how we can do that without limiting the availability of weapons that rob schoolkids of the right to life. Even his favorite tabloid, Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post, editorialized today, “We need sensible gun control to help stop the slaughter.”
But this line deserved the biggest laugh: “We are committed to working with state and local leaders to help secure our schools and tackle the difficult issue of mental health.” What a crock.
According to the best research, which would require Trump to read, mental illness is not a major cause of violent crime. Duke University professor Jeffrey Swanson, a psychiatric epidemiologist who tracks links between violence and mental illness, says that if we somehow cured schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression, violent crime in the America would drop by only 4 percent. And Michael Stone, a Columbia University shrink who tracks mass shooters, wrote in 2015 that only 22 percent of the killers in his database were mentally ill. He said, “The mentally ill should not bear the burden of being regarded as the ‘chief’ perpetrators of mass murder.”
And if Trump seriously believes that mental illness is the most important factor, he has done nothing to tackle it. Quite the contrary, he has been trying to undermine it.
By proposing to slash $1 trillion from Medicaid, he’s hurting the issue he purports to trumpet — because roughly 25 percent of non-elderly adults with severe mental illness get their medical coverage through Medicaid. And in his address yesterday, he somehow forgot to mention that, one year ago, he signed a resolution that makes it easier for people with a mental illness to obtain guns. President Obama, in one of his last acts, had stipulated that people receiving mental health benefits should be added to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System; Trump threw that out, and the White House refused to provide the press with a photo of Trump signing the resolution.
We shouldn’t assume, however, that Trump even remembers what he said or did a year ago. But some of us remember his Inaugural speech, when he declared that “this American carnage stops right here and stops right now.” He has stopped nothing. And the NRA bought him for the express purpose of doing nothing. The only cure is a blue tsunami that crests in 2020.
Meanwhile, in multiple votes yesterday, the Republican Senate refused to protect the undocumented immigrants who came to America as kids. Big surprise, right? Trump chose to support the most draconian Dreamer bill, the one that was pre-destined to fail. Then his regime attacked the most bipartisan bill, screaming via capitalization that it was “A MASS AMNESTY FOR OVER TEN MILLION ILLEGAL ALIENS, INCLUDING CRIMINALS.”
Well. It’s a darn good thing that Trump and the GOP are so bent on kicking alien “criminals” out of the country. Otherwise, I’d be fearing for the safety of our schoolkids.
I started blogging (oh so tentatively, in another locale) 12 years ago today. But there’s still lots of mileage on these tires.