by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Those who called President Trump a hypocrite for blaming Tuesday’s Manhattan terror attack on Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer weren’t wrong. Trump was doing the same thing that he had condemned only a few weeks earlier, when he chided liberals for using the Las Vegas shooting as an excuse to resurrect a stale debate about gun control before the blood was even cleaned off the streets.
The problem here is that while most people instinctually understand that political grandstanding in the wake of a tragedy is appalling no matter which side does it, both sides persist in doing it. The Left never hesitates to use each and every instance of mass gun violence to talk up gun-control laws. Republicans invariably reply that the aftermath of such events should be taken up with grieving for those killed and their families. Yet after instances of Islamic terror, the parties switch sides in the debate.
Trump’s cheap shot at Schumer was particularly crass as well as inept. Schumer helped to create the Diversity Visa Lottery, which the attacker used to enter the United States — but the bill had bipartisan support and was signed by President George H. W. Bush. Moreover, Schumer supported the lottery’s abolition in 2013 as part of a comprehensive immigration bill that was stopped by House Republicans.
But the real offense was Trump’s refusal to let the investigation unfold before assigning blame. Trump simply doesn’t understand that the best thing he can do at such moments is to play the role of a president seeking to unite the country, not that of a partisan Twitter attack dog.