When I was a pup columnist at Bloomberg News, my editor would always say “Show, don’t tell!” That mantra is all I can think of as I watch and listen to President Trump mouth words in response to the tragic eloquence of the survivors of the Valentine’s Day mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
“We are going to do something about this horrible situation that is going on,” Trump said during an extraordinary listening session at the White House on Wednesday with victims and survivors of gun violence. “I want to listen, and then after I listen, we are going to get things done.” He later said, “We don’t want others to go through the kind of pain you have gone through. It wouldn’t be right.”
Trump’s words are those of a man desperately trying to fire up some empathy, just like a smoker incessantly flicks an empty lighter to fire up a cigarette. More important, the president might be saying some reasonable things (for him) right now, but I don’t believe him and I have no faith that he will actually follow through.
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A Los Angeles Times article on Trump’s varied and changing positions on matters of gun safety had the perfect headline: “Trump ‘supportive’ of tougher gun law, but his record suggests that may not mean much.”
By nature, I’m not this cynical. But Trump has given me plenty of reason to be, the primary example being his empty words on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which he nonsensically rescinded last year. An action Attorney General Jeff Sessions was practically giddy announcing.
In a January meeting with congressional leaders, Trump said he wanted a “bill of love” on DACA that would also include border security. Two days after his televised concern for undocumented immigrants brought here illegally as children, we learned that the president of the United States derided immigration from “shithole countries.” By last week, The Post reported in detail how the president’s administration unleashed an “extraordinary 11th-hour strategy to sabotage the bill” making its way through the Senate. DACA officially expires on March 5.
Given that history alone, I don’t believe the president will be a man of his word. Besides, any man who has to be reminded to say “I hear you” in response to the pain and suffering unfolding before him is not a man to be trusted to do anything.