President Donald Trump is being unjustly criticized for the first time in his presidential career.
I’m referencing the recent revelation by the Associated Press showing Trump’s notes prior to his meeting with several survivors of the horrific mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where an expelled student brought a large capacity semi-automatic weapon onto the Douglas campus and killed 17 people Feb.14.
Politicians are often coached by aides or briefed by members of their staffs before public appearances, and it isn’t uncommon for public officials to rely on a teleprompter or pre-written statements when speaking in front of constituents. For example, Trump stuck to a pre-written speech during his first State of the Union address Jan. 30. Trump is well-known for speaking off the cuff and offering “alternative facts,” such as his statements made during the State of the Union referencing immigration, his proposed tax cuts and the U.S. unemployment rate which were written into his speech. But the criticism he’s faced in preparation for his meetings with the shooting survivors is unfounded.
I’m one of the first people in line to oppose Trump, but I consider this one of his most “presidential” actions since he took office more than a year ago. Trump isn’t a trained crisis counselor — he’s a regular person like the rest of us.
His background is in real estate and reality television, not discussing school shootings and gun control, as he’s been required to do in the wake of this horrendous tragedy. He’s no more prepared to meet with survivors of a traumatic event than the average American. A president is often required to be a leader in moments of crisis, so how does one criticize Trump for taking steps to appear as a leader?
For once, Trump has done something worthy of the office he holds. He listened to his advisors, and he approached a delicate situation differently than what he’s done in the past. During his 2016 campaign, he called himself his own primary advisor — someone who doesn’t have experience in a political office or in a position of public leadership. Yet, in this situation, he took the necessary steps, such as meeting with the survivors to assess and respond to the survivors’ concerns and listen to what they had to say on the subject of school shootings and the weapons which enable massacres such as these. He also met with members of Congress to seek solutions to the continuing issue of school shootings.
I’m not opposed to criticizing Trump. In fact, I am in favor of holding our president to a higher standard than the average citizen, but the criticism he has faced in reference to his prepared notes was targeting an action which fits the bill of how a president should act in the wake of a national tragedy.
Why not question Trump’s suggestion to ban “bump stocks?” A “bump stock” is a device that turns a semi-automatic weapon into a devastating fully automatic weapon. One such device was used to kill 58 people during the Oct. 1 Las Vegas shooting. Question Trump’s choice to propose this ban just over a week ago, rather than in the days following that atrocity. Why not question Trump’s suggestion to arm untrained school teachers with deadly weapons?
Don’t criticize Trump for acting like an actual president in a time of mourning. Instead, critique him for his highly questionable proposals in response to this tragedy. Criticize the National Rifle Association (NRA) for pushing a pro-gun agenda or Florida’s Republican Sen. Marco Rubio when he provided a non-answer about his NRA donations during a recent town hall discussion.
Targeting the low-hanging fruit is easy, but don’t go after fruit that isn’t rotten.