Trump’s Speech On the El Paso and Dayton Shootings Was MeaninglessPhoto courtesy of Getty Politics Features El Paso Shooting
Monday morning, Donald Trump delivered a speech from the oval office in response to the mass shootings in El Paso, TX and Dayton, OH. You can read the transcript here and watch the full video below (Trump starts at the 37:55 mark):
More than a few Internet commenters are pointing to the fact that Trump mistakenly referred to the “Toledo” shootings at the end of his speech (which, for what it’s worth, isn’t as egregious as Joe Biden’s error), but the more important point is just how useless the entire spectacle was.
“We are outraged and sickened by this monstrous evil, the cruelty, the hatred, the malice, the bloodshed, and the terror,” Trump said, but no, the fact is that “we” are not. Most of us are inured to it at this point, saddened and a little more disheartened each time we hear of some new atrocity, but fundamentally unable to dredge up true outrage each time lest we spend our entire lives in that state. As for Trump, many people have already drawn the line between his rhetoric (and the rhetoric of conservative commentators) and the El Paso shooter. But as Jake Weindling noted earlier on Monday, this kind of white supremacist violence is so ingrained in our system that the promotion of it might as well be intentional.
Which is what makes commentary like this so laughable:
Usually we see Trump unscripted, bashing his opponents/critics.
This was a sober, serious Trump, reading from teleprompter. Seemed to get a bit emotional at the end as he talked about the victims and their families.
— Scott Wong (@scottwongDC) August 5, 2019
This is what happens when you have a mainstream media obsessed with optics, and it’s probably unfair to pick on Wong—you’re going to see this exact same kind of commentary all over the place, and you’ve already seen some of it on TV. But, as we’ve seen time and time again, optics don’t matter. It doesn’t even matter that Trump called for gun control (or, more absurdly, the death penalty, as if that’s going to deter anyone). Even if gun control were to pass, which it almost certainly will not, the current composition of the Senate ensures that it will be the most tepid, extend-the-waiting-period-by-a-few-days kind of “reform.”
And Trump knows that! He knows he can call on Congress to do literally whatever, and nobody’s going to hold him, or Congress itself, to the words. To be impressed by his tone is to be a dupe.
PICTURED: savvy Beltway journalist noting Trump’s change in tone this time pic.twitter.com/ZiD1DEj20k
— Patrick Monahan (@pattymo) August 5, 2019
There’s exactly one way to change things, and that’s to wrench control from Republicans in Congress and the oval office. (Seriously, look what Moscow Mitch was tweeting after the shootings.) As those branches are currently constituted, the people that matter won’t take any action. They will spout empty rhetoric, and they will count on us to forget. And the cycle will repeat, just as it has over and over, until the next shooting. For that—unlike the prospect of gun control in America—you won’t have to wait long.