A Quick Take on Trump’s Pathetic Speech in the Wake of El Paso and Dayton

Trump airport

20 dead in El Paso.  9 dead in Dayton.  This weekend Trump was largely missing.  He gave a few comments on an airport tarmac.  He tweeted a few things.  But he did not address the American people in any substantial way.

Finally, this morning at 10:00am, he spoke to the American people from a teleprompter.  Trump needs the teleprompter because he does not possess the moral resources to be able to speak extemporaneously or off-the-cuff about shootings like this.  He needs others to give him the words of empathy, sympathy, compassion, righteous indignation–the stuff that comes from the soul of a virtuous man.

But even the people who write Trump speeches seem to have no clue.   Consider:

Trump talked about the “perils” of the Internet and social media.  Indeed, white supremacists use the Internet and social media to propagate hate.  But Trump seemed incapable of understanding that he does the same thing.  There was nothing in this speech about how Trump might be empowering these white supremacists through his own use of the Internet.

Trump calls for “bipartisan” efforts in solving gun control.   This is a nice idea on paper, but as long as Donald Trump is in office this will not happen.  Trump demonizes his political opponents.  He tells them to go back to their own countries.  He mocks the Democratic debates.  He calls the Democrats names.  He trashes people from Baltimore.

Trump says that video games glorify violence in America.  Whatever one thinks about the violence of video games, it is pathetic that Donald Trump is talking about glorifying violence.  Trump incites this violence at every rally.  He laughs when a white nationalist in his audience says that we should shoot immigrants in El Paso.

Trump talked about the “dignity of every human life.”  Seriously?  How does Trump’s commitment to the “dignity of every human life” inform his views on immigration, refugees, his political opponents, Muslims, people who are not white, etc…?

He also said that the shooting took place in Toledo.  How hard is it to get the right city in Ohio?  The shooting took place in Dayton.

This speech was a national embarrassment.  But hey–the economy is doing well.

ADDENDUM:  I used the term “pathetic” in the title of this post.  According to Merriam-Webster, the term “pathetic” has four definitions:

  1. “having a capacity to move one to either compassionate or contemptuous pity”
  2. “marked by sorrow or melancholy SAD”
  3. “pitifully inferior or inadequate”
  4.  “ABSURDLAUGHABLE”

Just to be clear, Trump’s speech was a mixture of definitions 3 and 4.

23 thoughts on “A Quick Take on Trump’s Pathetic Speech in the Wake of El Paso and Dayton

  1. Jeff,

    Well, I doubt that you wear a leather jacket, stomp along in motorcycle boots, comb your hair in a duck tail, roll a pack of Camels up in your T shirt sleeve, and frown at fellow trail walkers. Ha ha. There has to be another reason! And I suspect your dog is not a menacing pit bull but rather a friendly fellow.🐶

    I know Maryland fairly well. The D.C. suburbs and parts of Baltimore are not as friendly as the Eastern Shore or the regions extending westward.

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  2. Maybe it’s the way I look!
    Where I hike is pretty remote. I am often a few miles from any road and in deep woods.

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  3. Jeff,

    First of all, I see you as one of the few objective posters here who is not enamored with Trump, and I genuinely believe you are a compassionate person. Whether that stems from your Christian beliefs or is just simply part of your basic character, I can’t say.

    Compassion is a Biblical trait , but it also a simple human virtue. Strangely, even those who don’t particularly practice it still extol it. This high regard for compassion is attributable to Natural Law, in my opinion. Most atheists also esteem it.

    I cannot comment on the reactions of the women you encounter when you are hiking with your dog. I am only a few years older than you and have not had that experience with women or with people of other races. Perhaps the people in your area are simply more suspicious of strangers?

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  4. Hi James.
    One thing I am wondering about is compassion. I would like to think a degree of my stance on some issues is compassion. So I feel compassionate towards victims and families. I feel it for people of color in our country. I don’t think it’s quite smooth sailing for them. I feel compassion for women. I hike a lot with my dog and when out in a park I frequently come across lone women walking or jogging. I catch a look in their eyes of sizing me up as a potential threat and sometimes changing direction. And I am a benign 65 year old pop pop. Anyway what a way to live for women. Same kinds of things to deal with in the workplace.
    If I am going to err I would rather it be because of compassion than some kind of convoluted principle I can’t seem to find in my bible.

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  5. Jim in STL,

    You are right that President Obama had certain areas where he was less radical, but he was still essentially an empty suit intellectual. His handlers would wind him up and send him out with the message of the day.

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  6. John,

    We could also term Tony’s polished prose as Fitzgeraldesque (as in F. Scott) political commentary. I only wish I had his skill.

    James

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  7. John,
    Oh no! Tell me it ain’t so. I shall stand disappointedly by for the rehash of the DNC talking points.

    James

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  8. “So he just PREFERRED to write his speeches in advance and read them off the teleprompter?”

    Yes, he preferred to write as much as he could as well as working with speech writers. The teleprompter is no more than a set of notes but doesn’t require staring down to read them.

    Contrary to what a lot of people are willing to acknowledge, Obama was/is a fairly conservative guy and actually respected the office and constitutional institutions as well as the republican principles of the founders.

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  9. To his great credit he did not play the simplistic and trite gun control song which quickly rolled from the lips of several 2020 DEM presidential hopefuls.

    As morning drive-time radio put it today, the bullets had barely stopped flying before “the whole thing got Politicized”.

    Wasn’t Everything being “A POLITICAL Matter” one of the reasons Soviet-era Russians were really into the Vodka? No room to live a life, only “Be POLITICAL”?

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  10. Tony – President Obama wrote much of his own speeches. He also could speak extemporaneously very well and often did.

    So he just PREFERRED to write his speeches in advance and read them off the teleprompter?

    At the very least, it’s a difference in style (Obama always did come across as more formal in public), and I can understand a preference for a pre-polished speech and delivery. Not only “his style”, but he WAS “setting precedent” as “the first BLACK president” and wouldn’t want to mess up and possibly set a bad example.

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  11. Here is where we differ Tony. You presuppose some kind of equivalency between Trump and all other politicians. This is why you are constantly saying “Well, what about Obama?” (And this is why I consistently reject this whataboutism). You believe that Trump and Obama (or any other recent president) are playing on the same moral field and thus must be evaluated in the same way. I do not Trump has sacrificed the moral integrity necessary to deliver a speech like he did today. I agree with Jeff from Maryland when he says: “Trump could recite the Gettysburg Address” and I would not believe him. So Tony–at what point does a person lose all credibility in your mind? At what point does a persons actions damage his or her attempts to deliver moral rhetoric to a public audience? I admit that different people will come to different conclusions about when a public figure has reached this level, but I find it hard to believe that it would not happen at some point. I have reached my point of no return with Trump. You, apparently, have not.

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  12. He obviously used a teleprompter to avoid another Charlottesville slip. What I’m left wondering is if it was President Trump’s idea or if Mick Mulvaney is a better handler than General Kelly.

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  13. I could be wrong but I think what makes many of Trump’s words about a need for bipartisan action, decrying bigotry etc is Trump’s past words and actions.
    So yeah, Trump could recite the Gettysburg address and if he claimed to understand and mean it, I would laugh.

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  14. Very insightful and eloquent, Tony! You are a master of English prose.

    When the recent tragedies occurred, I fully expected to see a vehement release of venom by the haters of Trump. I will, however, say one positive peripheral thing about John’s diatribe. To his great credit he did not play the simplistic and trite gun control song which quickly rolled from the lips of several 2020 DEM presidential hopefuls. Several of them are almost like an old juke box. Just push B-15 and A-12 whenever an act of gun violence occurs. There is no real desire to examine the deeper roots of violence.

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  15. I should also point out the ironic twist in pointing out that Trump used a teleprompter since, that was one of his many critiques of Obama and that he’d said that he would never rely on one.

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  16. “…was wedded to his teleprompter.”

    Tony – President Obama wrote much of his own speeches. He also could speak extemporaneously very well and often did. This should come as no surprise since he graduated with a JD degree magna cum laude from Harvard in 1991 after which he taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School for twelve years, and as a Lecturer for four years (1992–1996), and then as Senior Lecturer for eight years (1996–2004). He served as IL Sate Senator from 1997 to 2004 and US Senator from IL from 2005 to 2008. He was an accomplished thinker and writer and speaker.

    And yes, given the importance of clearly and unequivocally transmitting information, Obama did organize his prepared statements using a teleprompter rather than speak or tweet in rambling stream of consciousness mode.

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  17. This is an amazing critique — let’s accept, solely for the sake of argument, that it is true — given that the guy who preceded Trump, and about whom John had nary a negative word to say, and who John deems infinitely more virtuous in every way — was wedded to his teleprompter.

    My take on that is that both Bush 43 and Obama 44 had the same problem when speaking spontaneously off-the-cuff. (Remember “Bushisms”?) And they responded to this in different ways:
    1) Bush just kept speaking off-the-cuff and let the Bushisms fall where they may.
    2) Obama made sure he wouldn’t malaprop by always going with prepared speeches; he always struck me as being more concerned with the dignity of the office.

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  18. “Trump needs the teleprompter because he does not possess the moral resources to be able to speak extemporaneously or off-the-cuff about shootings like this. He needs others to give him the words of empathy, sympathy, compassion, righteous indignation–the stuff that comes from the soul of a virtuous man.”

    This is an amazing critique — let’s accept, solely for the sake of argument, that it is true — given that the guy who preceded Trump, and about whom John had nary a negative word to say, and who John deems infinitely more virtuous in every way — was wedded to his teleprompter. The most carefully scripted president we have ever had. In good times and bad. But that was then, when habitual, almost comical reliance upon other people’s words (and he sure could deliver them) told us nothing about one’s soul, and this is now, when it signifies a sucking moral vacuum.

    The selectivity of the dudgeon is its most noteworthy characteristic.

    And let’s be clear: John’s objection is not really to the “pathetic” speech. It’s to Trump himself. Meaning: Churchill could pen the oratory, and John would still object, because Trump is unworthy to deliver it. This is precisely what John is attacking when he dismisses Trump’s appeal to bipartisanship and his comments about human dignity. Those would be acceptable words from anyone else, but not from Trump, because his malevolent character renders them clanging gongs and clashing cymbals. The argument is: no matter how worthy or aspirational the sentiment, the words are empty coming from this man, and must be rejected.

    Fair enough. But then let’s stop pretending that there is anything — literally, anything (other than: “I am a wicked, orange man, and I resign.”) — Trump could say which would satisfy John. So why even the pretense of evaluating what has been said? Simpler to write: “Trump gave a speech. I did not listen to it, for there was no need. It was by definition awful, noxious, gormless and without any redeeming quality, because Trump uttered the words.”

    John has become the mirror image of those who found every spoken word, every mannerism, every single thing about Obama — including his heinous lack of lapel flag pins — teeth-grindingly intolerable. Yes, yes, I get it: their loathing was based on vile –Isms and without basis, whereas the all-pervading, Manichean Trump animus is entirely justified.

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  19. Just to be clear, Trump’s speech was a mixture of definitions 3 and 4.

    In any case, it has now become Inerrant SCRIPTURE to four out of five Evangelicals.

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  20. I think Trump has a strong capacity to compartmentalize.
    So he can speak one way in a speech about the evils of hate and white supremacy, and rail in tweets and in his rallies against the “problem” of non whites in our country. He had no problem with hate and fear mongering to his base and playing a somewhat different character when he is trying his best to be “presidential”. Though despite what he says, he can’t even make believe that right.

    Am I wrong or did he start off saying more than 80 were killed rather than shot?

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