Donald Trump’s tweets on London Terror attacks proves why is never going to be ‘presidential’


Soon after word of two terror attacks in London broke late Saturday, Donald Trump began to offer his thoughts.

Did he release a statement offering condolences to the victims? Did he grant an interview with a TV network to insist that the US remains resolute in our fight against terror even in the wake of these latest attacks? Nope! He tweeted! Five times, to be exact.

On Saturday night, Trump kicked off his tweetstorm with this: “We need to be smart, vigilant and tough. We need the courts to give us back our rights. We need the Travel Ban as an extra level of safety!”

Then he offered this tweet: “Whatever the United States can do to help out in London and the U. K., we will be there – WE ARE WITH YOU. GOD BLESS!”

After a night’s sleep, Trump woke up Sunday morning and, around 8 a.m., fired off three more tweets.

“We must stop being politically correct and get down to the business of security for our people. If we don’t get smart it will only get worse,” Trump started.

“At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and Mayor of London says there is “no reason to be alarmed!,” he continued.

“Do you notice we are not having a gun debate right now? That’s because they used knives and a truck!,” he ended.

President Trump and his team renewed a trans-Atlantic feud with the mayor of London on Sunday, portraying him as soft on terrorism a day after seven people were killed and dozens more wounded in the latest attack in the British capital.

Mr. Trump assailed Mayor Sadiq Khan by mischaracterizing his comments following the attack. After condemning the “cowardly terrorists,” Mr. Khan told Londoners not “to be alarmed” by seeing more police officers on the streets. Mr. Trump presented it as if Mr. Khan had meant they should not be alarmed by terrorism. The mayor’s office fired back, calling Mr. Trump “ill informed.”

The friction has been especially acute for more than a year between Mr. Trump and Mr. Khan, the first Muslim to serve as mayor of a major Western European capital. During last year’s presidential contest, Mr. Khan criticized Mr. Trump’s proposal to temporarily ban all Muslims from entering the United States and endorsed Hillary Clinton, prompting an exchange with Mr. Trump’s campaign. Mr. Trump’s son Donald Jr. criticized Mr. Khan as recently as March.

The president’s initial reaction to the Saturday night attack in London was to offer traditional messages of support and solidarity. By Sunday morning, however, he trained his scorn on Mr. Khan.

Of those five, one is the sort of thing you can imagine a president not named Donald Trump saying in the wake of a major terrorism event like the one in London; that’s the second one Saurday night in which he pledges to help London in whatever way they need it and insists America stands with them.

The other four tweets are pure Trump — and the exact opposite of what we have long considered “presidential.”
In one — the first he sends out — he uses the just-breaking terror attacks as a way to make the case for his travel ban, which continues to be hung up in the courts.

In another, he suggests political correctness is responsible for the attack, a common Trump refrain during the campaign.

In a third, he takes on those pushing gun control — noting that they are silent because these attacks didn’t involve guns.

And, finally and most Trumpian, he attacks the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, for allegedly insisting that the people of London have “no reason to be alarmed.”

As is often the case with Trump, he has taken that comment from Khan heavily out of context. In a statement, Khan said: “Londoners will see an increased police presence today and over the course of the next few days. There’s no reason to be alarmed. One of the things the police and all of us need to do is ensure that we’re as safe as we possibly can be.” Khan is clearly referring not to the threat from terrorists but to the increased police presence when he uses the words “no reason to be alarmed.” Trump chooses to misunderstand him for political purposes.

Mr. Khan’s office later dismissed the president’s post, saying the mayor was too busy to reply. “He has more important things to do than respond to Donald Trump’s ill-informed tweet that deliberately takes out of context his remarks urging Londoners not to be alarmed when they saw more police — including armed officers — on the streets,” a spokesman for the mayor said in a statement.

Critics of Mr. Trump in Britain and the United States faulted him for his acrimonious response to the Saturday assault. “I don’t think that a major terrorist attack like this is the time to be divisive and to criticize a mayor who’s trying to organize his city’s response to this attack,” former Vice President Al Gore said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday.

But the White House showed no signs of backing down, and a top aide to Mr. Trump amplified the attack shortly afterward. Dan Scavino, the president’s director of social media, posted a message referring to Mr. Khan’s criticism of Mr. Trump a year ago for his “ignorant view of Muslims.”

Trump’s responses are the latest example of how he is radically altering the idea of what it means to be “presidential.” During the 2016 campaign, Trump’s attacks on John McCain’s war hero status, his savaging of a Gold Star family, his wild exaggerations about his wealth and his seeming disinterest in the truth were all taken, at one point or another, as signs that he simply wasn’t “presidential” enough to actually win anything. That, while voters liked his unorthodox style, they would eventually tire of him as they looked for the sort of statesman who had traditionally held the nation’s top political job.

It didn’t happen. And Trump has never stopped. His quintet of tweets on London are not only something that no previous American president would ever have said, they’re also statements that it’s hard to imagine any other leader in any other democracy around the world saying.

They are more the statements of a conservative talk radio show host than they are of what we have come to think of as a president — bombastic, over the top and out of context. They are, by traditional standards, anti-presidential.

Which, come to think of it, is a good way to describe Trump. He is sort of an anti-president — at least in terms of how we have always defined those terms. Trump’s attitude and approach in office is closer to Jerry Springer than to Gerald Ford. He’s more Limbaugh than Lincoln.

What we know: Trump isn’t going to stop Trumping. The only question now is whether voters want an anti-president as their president.

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