Cooper: Trump spoke quite hypocritically

CNN's Anderson Cooper speaks out after bombs were sent to CNN's New York office, President Obama and the Clintons.

Posted: Oct 26, 2018 4:38 AM
Updated: Oct 26, 2018 5:01 AM

Don't expect Donald Trump to repent for heating America's politics to a bitter boiling point, despite a day that could have turned into a tragedy after an unknown suspect mailed bombs to the President's favorite targets.

Trump did just about the bare minimum expected after the attempted attacks using improvised explosives on two of his predecessors, several other prominent political critics and the New York offices of CNN.

He called for national unity, promised to bring those responsible to justice and warned that political violence was an "attack on our democracy itself."

But he gave no sign that he understood there may be consequences to the nation's most conspiratorial rhetoric and demagoguery -- which has sprung from his own lips -- in a midterm election campaign rooted in fear.

And there was no public acknowledgment that there can be consequences to the nation's most conspiratorial rhetoric and demagoguery -- violent, dehumanizing language he himself has spread as he lashes out at his opponents and whips up his supporters.

Characteristically, he undermined his scripted invocations of unity with fresh attacks of his own, implicitly blaming people who criticize him, the media and Democrats for the nation's dangerous political divides.

In effect, the President chose not to rise above the tumult or even console or counsel those who opposed him.

He did not mention the victims by name. Or give any indication that he is concerned that some people might see his flaming rhetoric as a spur to violence.

Trump's response to Wednesday's events was a reminder of the gap between presidential expectations and performance that has often been evident in his response to grave national moments, crises and natural disasters.

His defenders will argue that it is absurd that attacks against public figures and the media by an isolated "crazy person" could be blamed on a President -- who clearly had nothing to do with orchestrating the specific act.

They will also point out that Republicans can also come under fire: Republican Rep. Steve Scalise was severely injured in a shooting spree by a gunman who posted anti-Trump rhetoric on social media and supported Bernie Sanders, a Democratic presidential contender.

But it was perhaps not surprising that the President should not even reflect on how the fearsome political climate plays into such behavior -- even though the man in the Oval Office is often looked upon to set a moral example.

Presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin told Don Lemon that Trump had missed a chance to show leadership. She said he could have styled the attempted attack on Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama as an attack on all presidents, and the bomb sent to CNN as an attack on the free media.

"Everybody is hungering for that real unification," she said.

However, Trump's political method has often been based upon portraying opponents as a threat to America, eviscerating their characters and tearing at the nation's most painful political, social and racial divides.

RELATED: Eight unforgettable ways 1968 made history

People with long political memories are becoming increasingly worried. Half a century on from a year of blood and torment, 1968, which saw the political assassinations of Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. there are again fears that sooner or later, a seething national mood will produce a tragedy that will haunt America for decades.

Trump only goes so far

Trump opened a rally in Wisconsin by condemning violence. But he then went on to lay blame elsewhere -- against some of the targets who were in the sights of the unknown bomb maker.

"We should not mob people in public spaces or destroy public property," Trump said, in a reference to liberal protests against GOP politicians.

In order to bridge political divides, he said, "the media also has a responsibility to set a civil tone and to stop the endless hostility and constant negative and oftentimes false attacks and stories."

The President also openly mocked calls for him to tone down his fiery style at Wednesday's event, a somewhat more subdued rally in which he eschewed some of his recent, and most extreme attacks.

"I'm trying to be nice," he quipped. "Do you see how nice I'm behaving tonight?"

But Trump could not even bring himself to utter the names of former 2016 rival Hillary Clinton or former Presidents Clinton and Obama, after what were in essence assassination attempts and an attack on the presidency itself -- an institution that he now holds in trust.

White House sources told CNN that Trump had made no attempt to reach out to the former commanders-in-chief.

It was not the first time that critics had faulted Trump for not doing enough to cool political tensions. Last year, in Charlottesville, Virginia, he saw blame for "both sides" in violence that claimed the life of a young female anti-racism protester at a white supremacist rally.

His remarks in Wisconsin were a clear sign that though the White House sees a duty to track down the bomb maker and prevent future attacks, it also believes there is no link between them and Trump's rhetoric.

But had even one of Wednesday's devices, which authorities said were rudimentary but still threatening, exploded, America could have been mourning victims of a political debate that is raging out of control.

For many observers, Wednesday's drama was a sign that overheated political arguments have reached a perilous point.

"These attempted bombings are a clear sign that our civil discourse is so off track that it is becoming a national security threat," said Dr. Carolyn Lukensmeyer, executive director of the National Institute for Civil Discourse.

"There could be no stronger evidence that our words matter and have consequences," she said in a statement.

All blame is not equally shared

The President's insistence that all sides were to blame for the political climate also ignores his own prominent role in dragging public life into the gutter that is so unconventional that it undermines critiques that all politicians are equally to blame.

There is only one President who indulges his angry crowds when they shout "lock her up, lock her up," about Hillary Clinton -- in a call for a political opponent to be thrown in jail.

There is only one President who has called the press "the enemy of the people" and who grins as his crowds berate reporters.

There is only one President who has praised a fellow Republican lawmaker for assaulting a reporter, as he did on the campaign trail last week.

It is not clear that the President could cool the rhetoric if he wanted to. What critics see as a wild and dangerous style is viewed by Trump loyalists as the golden key to his crusade against political correctness.

Trump's willingness to break the conventions of decorum and decency with demolishing attacks on his rivals, and a disregard for civility, are inseparable from his political appeal to the base on which he has built his political career.

But Wednesday's incidents are a reminder that in such a climate, somebody could get seriously hurt or even killed.

"The President and his allies, they need to dial down the political rhetoric," said Carrie Cordero, an adjunct professor at Georgetown Law, who is also a CNN analyst. "They are making people less safe, they are making journalists less safe, they are making law enforcement officials less safe."

Terre Haute
Few Clouds
79° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 80°
Robinson
Clear
78° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 79°
Indianapolis
Broken Clouds
75° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 75°
Rockville
Few Clouds
79° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 80°
Casey
Clear
79° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 81°
Brazil
Few Clouds
79° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 80°
Marshall
Few Clouds
79° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 80°
Rain showers expected overnight
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

Latest Video

Image

Sunday Morning Forecast Update

Image

Saturday Evening Forecast

Image

Saturday Morning Forecast Update

Image

Barr-Reeve vs Loogootee 9-25-20 ITZ

Image

Harrison vs Vin Lin ITZ 9-25-20

Image

West Washington vs North Central ITZ 9-25-20

Image

Riverton Parke vs Cloverdale ITZ 9-25-20

Image

Linton vs North Daviess ITZ 9-25-20

Image

Indy Lutheran vs Northview ITZ 9-25-20

Image

OV vs Sullivan ITZ 9-25-20

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Confirmed Cases: 288773

Reported Deaths: 8832
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Cook1430845203
DuPage17393560
Lake16794487
Will13917378
Kane13065326
St. Clair6574190
Winnebago5848149
Madison5666136
Champaign464520
McHenry4567118
Peoria345949
McLean326023
Rock Island297176
Kankakee273177
Unassigned2538244
Sangamon240145
Kendall199725
Tazewell174923
LaSalle170157
DeKalb156738
Macon150344
Coles145030
Williamson139045
Jackson125924
Clinton115320
Boone111323
Adams111210
Randolph93711
Effingham8653
Vermilion7454
Whiteside73820
Ogle6956
Monroe67315
Grundy6675
Henry6645
Morgan65523
Knox6483
Bureau63711
Jefferson60038
Marion5480
Macoupin5407
Christian53711
Franklin5303
Stephenson5176
Union51424
McDonough48015
Logan4611
Crawford4403
Woodford4206
Fayette4063
Cass39511
Jersey39015
Livingston3886
Shelby3854
Montgomery37113
Lee3681
Iroquois36419
Perry34715
Saline3344
Warren3302
Bond3225
Douglas3087
Wayne2785
Jo Daviess2592
Lawrence2542
Carroll2274
Greene22611
Cumberland2155
Hancock2153
Moultrie2143
Jasper2119
Washington2101
Richland2055
Fulton1740
Pulaski1741
Clark1722
White1670
Johnson1530
Clay1510
Wabash1513
Mason1451
Mercer1375
Piatt1370
Pike1271
Menard1251
De Witt1161
Edgar1138
Massac1092
Ford1045
Marshall1010
Alexander801
Scott780
Gallatin722
Hamilton681
Henderson660
Edwards630
Brown590
Calhoun590
Putnam570
Stark552
Schuyler490
Hardin390
Pope291
Out of IL30

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Confirmed Cases: 116549

Reported Deaths: 3577
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion21322766
Lake10566323
Elkhart6623111
St. Joseph6488109
Allen6244203
Hamilton4893109
Vanderburgh365231
Hendricks2741123
Monroe259836
Tippecanoe248313
Johnson2328124
Clark222757
Porter215447
Delaware196062
Cass19509
Vigo183527
Madison167075
LaPorte144440
Floyd137063
Warrick133039
Howard131363
Kosciusko121817
Bartholomew117057
Marshall100724
Boone98146
Dubois97919
Hancock93043
Grant92534
Noble91532
Henry80326
Wayne76114
Jackson7589
Morgan72438
Shelby67429
Daviess67228
Dearborn66428
LaGrange63811
Clinton60214
Harrison58224
Putnam57912
Gibson5225
Knox5179
Lawrence51229
Montgomery51121
White48614
DeKalb48311
Decatur45839
Miami4363
Greene42635
Fayette42213
Jasper3962
Steuben3857
Scott37711
Sullivan33712
Posey3350
Jennings31412
Franklin30925
Clay3015
Ripley2988
Orange28824
Whitley2766
Carroll27513
Wabash2688
Adams2663
Washington2661
Starke2647
Wells2634
Jefferson2483
Spencer2463
Fulton2412
Huntington2363
Tipton22722
Perry21913
Randolph2167
Jay1850
Newton17311
Owen1691
Martin1660
Rush1554
Pike1511
Vermillion1300
Fountain1272
Blackford1193
Pulaski1131
Crawford1070
Brown1043
Parke1002
Benton870
Union790
Ohio787
Switzerland690
Warren401
Unassigned0226