One of the president’s roles is that of comforter-in-chief. Days after back-to-back mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, President Trump visited the areas to meet with survivors and families of victims. His actions throughout the visits once again showed he is incapable of acting presidential.
What do you think of when you hear the term, “president of the United States?” Power, prestige and history are probably the first things to come to mind. Beyond those, however, are more important qualities the leader of the free world should possess.
Trump is not just the leader of America. He is our representative on the world stage and a symbol of the whole nation throughout the country. The president should be diplomatic, mature, empathetic, highly self-aware, and a good listener. Trump is none of these things.
In times of national tragedy, whether they be natural or man-made, the president’s job is to comfort. They must reassure communities that they are safe and all of America will support them as they rebuild their homes and their lives.
In his statement following the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting, former President Barack Obama visibly teared up. He displayed the shock and grief every American felt that day. His compassion in that moment showed his natural, presidential demeanor.
Even after leaving office, past presidents embody and uphold the presidential manner with which they led the nation. In 2017, former presidents George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, and Obama joined forces. They came together to raise money to help rebuild Texas following Hurricane Harvey. All five men knew that their kindness and volunteerism would set an example for the rest of America.
When America is overcome with grief, it is the job of the president to comfort. They must remind hurting communities from California to Delaware that the country is behind them, ready to help with whatever they need.
When comforting others, you should not bring the attention back to yourself. Unless you have had a similar experience, it is distasteful to bring up your own issues. The feelings and needs of the hurt always come first.
Trump is incapable of acting presidential and performing his duty as comforter-in-chief. His deep need for attention means he pushes the feelings of others aside. He is incapable of understanding how hurtful his words and actions are.
Trump and El Paso
Trump’s relationship with El Paso, Texas is understandably cold. Despite winning the state, the president lost the county by a huge margin in 2016. The city, which lies right on the southern border, was 83 percent Hispanic or Latino in 2018.
History helps us understand why a city with such large Mexican, Hispanic and Latino communities would not like Trump. We should never forget how he started his presidential campaign in 2015.
“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best…they’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists…it’s coming from more than Mexico. It’s coming from all over South and Latin America and probably, probably from the Middle East,” he said.
The disgusting racism and immaturity with which he kicked off his run never left his image. It has grown to define his administration and the ease with which people have brushed it off is disheartening. It emboldened a young man to enter a Texas Walmart and kill 22 people.
The 21-year-old shooter, now viewed as a domestic terrorist, is a white nationalist. His manifesto detailed his belief that a “Hispanic invasion of Texas” was happening. The acceptance of Trump’s casual racism allowed hate to fester and grow in our country. And it all started with that June 2015 campaign announcement.
No Time to Comfort, But Time to Brag
Trump is not presidential because he never stops to think about how his actions affect others. Although presidents traditionally visit sites of mass shootings, they are not required to do so. El Paso did not want Trump to come and offer his condolences. Many knew his sympathy was false. His tweets calling for unity are interspersed with ongoing, immature name-calling of his critics and rivals.
Trump lacks maturity and empathy. His August 7 tweet showing him meeting victims did not actually show any victims. Instead of filming him visiting survivors, the video was set to triumphant music, meant to highlight how amazing and wonderful the president is.
A presidential president would share stories of terrible loss and great strength in times of tragedy. They would not use a hospital visit as a time to take selfies. Every time Trump is forced to appear as a uniting leader, he fails because he is a bad actor.
When he should have been comforting El Paso survivors, he was instead bragging about size. According to Trump, his massive rally in the city months earlier outshined a similar rally for current Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke, who is the former U.S. representative of El Paso.
His words and actions are tasteless and immature. He is incapable of self-reflection and sympathy, qualities our country needs in a leader. America is starting to recognize that, with him, a presidential visit is unlikely to offer any reassurance and comfort.
Trump needs to stop acting presidential. His supporters seem to like that he is brash and crude. Others look at his offers of sympathy and see them for the fake statements they are. He should stop trying to be something he is not. He may be the president, but he certainly does not act like it.