On Monday, Donald Trump exhorted the nation to “act as one people” and warned that “open wounds cannot heal if we are divided.” His visits to Dayton and El Paso, the scenes of horrific mass shootings, intend to put that premise into action. First, however, Trump warmed up with a little Twitter diversion overnight by attacking Robert “Beto” O’Rourke over his nickname and telling him to pipe down:
Beto (phony name to indicate Hispanic heritage) O’Rourke, who is embarrassed by my last visit to the Great State of Texas, where I trounced him, and is now even more embarrassed by polling at 1% in the Democrat Primary, should respect the victims & law enforcement – & be quiet!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 7, 2019
To be fair, Trump didn’t start this, but he also doesn’t seem to be very concerned about letting it slide either. O’Rourke kicked off this manhood-measuring contest by declaring that El Paso wasn’t big enough for the both of them, and so the president of the United States should consider himself persona non grata. That was a dumb thing to say at any time, but especially in a moment when healing and governance really should be the order of the day rather than just another campaign-potshot opportunity.
O’Rourke responded in kind a little over an hour later:
22 people in my hometown are dead after an act of terror inspired by your racism. El Paso will not be quiet and neither will I. https://t.co/dakFPKj0vJ
— Beto O'Rourke (@BetoORourke) August 7, 2019
No one asked El Paso to be quiet. It’s also quite an accusation to claim that a politician is responsible for the actions of a lunatic. Does that apply in Dayton too, where an Antifa-cheering nutcase supporting a couple of Beto’s Democratic opponents slaughtered nine people? Or how about the nutcase who shot several of Beto’s former House colleagues, including Steve Scalise? The answer to that is no, because lunatics latch onto extreme politics as an excuse rather than a motivator, a point which one would think a responsible political leader would make.
Anyway, Trump will have to deal with more hostile receptions in both cities today, the Washington Post reports. There may be plenty of opportunities for Trump to tell people be quiet, but perhaps he’ll think better of it:
The grief and sorrow in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso have begun to give way to anger and frustration in advance of President Trump’s planned visits Wednesday, with local leaders and residents increasingly vocal in their assertions that presidential condolences, thoughts and prayers will not be enough.
People are signing petitions, planning protests and, in Dayton, organizing a demonstration featuring an inflated “Baby Trump” to express their discontent with a president whose anti-immigrant rhetoric was echoed by a gunman who killed 22 people in El Paso. And while the motive of the man who killed nine people in Dayton remains unclear, Trump’s silence on the issue of guns has been criticized by local officials who want action to prevent future massacres.
The “motive” of both perps was lunacy and irrational hatred, and the politics of the Dayton shooter are now well-known. If politics was a motivator for one, it’s a motivator for both — or, better yet, for neither. If someone takes a shot at Trump, should we blame the “Baby Trump” balloon or its holder? Eh, some would on our side, I suppose, but it would still be wrong to do so.
Finally, this Twitter slapfight might end up being a boost for Beto. His campaign was going nowhere on its own and hadn’t drawn much national attention in weeks. By becoming Trump’s main target, O’Rourke might become a rallying point for La Resistance again and perhaps even get enough polling support to slip onto the debate stage in September. Nothing else seems to be working for O’Rourke.