Newly emerging facts keep turning President Donald Trump’s public responses to the Parkland massacre moot.
Nearly two weeks ago, in the immediate wake of the Florida nightmare, Trump sent the nation a message along the lines of “If you see something, say something.”
“Neighbors and classmates knew” that the troubled shooter “was a big problem,” Trump tweeted. “Must always report such instances to authorities, again and again!”
Then it turned out there had been multiple reports to authorities about the accused Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School killer, Nikolas Cruz.
Cruz commented last year on YouTube about being a “professional school shooter,” which prompted another user of the website to alert authorities, the FBI confirmed.
Further, a math teacher at the Stoneman Douglas High School told the Miami Herald that school officials had emailed teachers about Cruz’s conduct.
“We were told last year that he wasn’t allowed on campus with a backpack on him,” the teacher, identified as Jim Gard, said.
Trump’s “say something” message seemed redundant.
Two days after the violence, Trump visited and posed for photos with responders. He characterized the emergency response as record-setting and heroic.
“Incredible job, and everybody is talking about it,” Trump said, with dozens of officers flanking a large circular conference room table on the fifth floor of the Broward County sheriff’s office.
Several days later it came out that an armed officer, Broward Sheriff’s Deputy Scot Peterson, failed to go inside the building during the carnage. He was forced to resign.
Trump quickly joined that chorus of vilification. Soon after that, Coral Springs police sources were quoted as saying at least three sheriff’s deputies held back from entering.
So now the “incredible job” that “everyone” was “talking about” had become marred by cowardice, according to Trump’s revision — plus a boast of his own hypothetical bravery.
If a president has any relevance at scenes like these, it would be in the area of policies and resources.
The latest carnage, of course, revived the gun-control debate.
Last week, a day before appearing at the conservative CPAC conference, Trump called the National Rifle Association’s leader and chief lobbyist “great people and great American patriots.”
“They love our Country and will do the right thing,” Trump tweeted.
Trump has said he believes the right measures include raising the age for gun buyers to 21 and banning so-called bump stocks.
But the NRA over the weekend indicated it would resist both steps. Spokeswoman Dana Loesch said the group’s opposition is “incredibly clear” and Trump hasn’t formally endorsed the idea.
“These are just things that he’s discussing right now,” she said. Perhaps the stage is set, however, for the president to conspicuously persuade the organization to bend on such stances.
It was recalibration time again when Trump met Monday with state governors.
“Don’t worry about the NRA, they’re on our side,” he insisted. “They are doing what they think is right. But sometimes we’re going to have to be very tough, and we’re going to have to fight them.”
As for his case for arming teachers, Trump now says such action will be left to the states. When it comes to substance, his actual influence on the statehouses, like his policy impact on Congress, remains unclear at best.