As it happens, I tend to agree with Donald Trump on this point, but probably for different reasons. Some at Fox News express some skepticism about Barack Obama’s tears during yesterday’s presser, including Andrea Tantaros. She accused Obama of using “a raw onion” or other agent to stage his reaction. And by the way, Meghan McCain wasn’t buying it either:
“I would check that podium for like a raw onion or some no-more-tears,” Andrea Tantaros said when discussing Obama’s address earlier Tuesday about gun control. “I mean, it’s not really believable.” …
“If he really cared about an issue especially like Chicago and his hometown and it was plausible, he’d be doing something very different than he’s doing, and he would have spoken out a long time ago,” Tantaros said.
“He’s almost at the end of his term and you haven’t heard him go to Chicago and really speak out about this issue, and he’s uniquely poised to do so really. But everything he’s doing won’t solve the problem.”
When you’ve lost Meghan McCain …
Trump has a different take, however, on both the tears and the presser. “I think he means well,” Trump says of Obama’s efforts, but “you cannot tamper with the Second Amendment,” he told Fox and Friends this morning:
“I actually think he was sincere. I’ll probably go down about 5 points in the polls by saying that,” the Republican presidential front-runner joked. “But I think he was sincere.” …
But Trump, who has vowed to reverse Obama’s executive action, nevertheless said the president most likely “means well.”
“I think he’s incorrect about it. They’re just taking chunks and chunks out of the Second Amendment,” he said. “But I think he probably means well.”
Trump went on to say that mass shootings were the result of a “huge mental-health problem,” not a lack of gun-control measures.
I don’t think the president “means well” in his proposals, which are sold dishonestly and are a political bait-and-switch from his threats over the last three months — at least, so far. Obama impugns the motives of those who own firearms and want to defend their constitutional rights while falling back onto appeals of authority — his own as a “constitutional scholar” — while offering false arguments on mythical gun-show loopholes and Internet free-for-alls. The proposals themselves turned out to be minimal, but signal an intent to use ambiguity to intimidate hobbyists into abandoning their markets, which isn’t a nothingburger.
However, I think the tears were real, probably more from frustration at being on the losing end of this argument and seeing that clearly. That also explains the yelling and other demagoguery in the presser. More to the point, there isn’t much gained in trying to litigate the opposite, especially for prospective presidential nominees. Trump takes the best political tack — allowing for legitimate motivation while opposing the policies and the ideology behind it. That’s smart politics, especially when dealing with an opposition figure whose job approval may be low but whose personal ratings remain mostly positive. What makes this most interesting is how often Trump has been unwilling to extend the same courtesy to other Republicans and conservative media figures who have criticized him in the past.
Update: Edited the first paragraph for better clarity.