Cowardice and Insanity

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)
‘Cowardice and insanity’ were the words used by the father of a student who was killed in the Parkland shooting, referring to respectively Congress and the White House.  And Trump thought that the week started so well for him.  He embraced Robert Mueller’s indictment of 13 Russians, because the Special Counsel declared that nobody from the Trump campaign had ‘wittingly’ been in touch with them.  For Trump, who conveniently ignored that the indictment covers only a small part of the Russian activity, it was proof that there had been no collusion, and while he was at it he also stated that the outcome of the election had not been affected, blaming H.R. McMaster for not making the same unfounded claim at a conference in Munich. Watching the news shows, however, it gradually dawned on Trump that the indictment rebutted his characterization of Russian interference as a ‘hoax’ and at best made him look criminally naive, so he started lashing out via Twitter.  His most disingenuous tweet blamed the FBI for having spent too much time on the Russia investigation and therefore missing the warning signals regarding the Parkland shooter.

The shooting would dominate the news during the rest of the week.  On Wednesday, after a ‘listening session’ with victims of multiple school shootings, Trump showed willingness to have the age limit to buy an AR-15 raised to 21 years, next to banning bump stocks, investing in mental health care and improving background checks.  He never mentioned banning assault weapons or closing the gun show loophole that undermines background checks, but his comments still went too far for the NRA, which had supported Trump’s presidential campaign with $30 million, of which the bulk was spent on attacking Hillary Clinton.  After having been corrected by the ‘patriots’ of the NRA the next day Trump was singing off their sheet, blaming Hollywood and video games for the shooting and arguing that there should be more guns in schools to protect students and teachers.  After another night’s sleep he had refined his thinking and fulminated against gun free zones around schools, calling them an invitation for shooters, and settled on the idea to ‘harden’ schools by arming teachers, something that even the NRA had not fully endorsed.

That idea was not well received by experts, who argued that police officers fail to hit their target more often than not and that teachers would do considerably worse, making it inevitable that at some point a teacher would shoot a student.  Both national teachers unions spoke out against it, and many teachers said that they would rather quit than carry a gun.  But Trump doubled down, claiming that between 10% and 40% of teachers are ex-military and adept at handling guns.

Trump didn’t provide a source for those numbers, and his eventual position shows that he’s only willing to make small, marginal changes, next to pursuing a ‘solution’ that will never work.  That message was received by the teenagers of the ‘never again’ movement, who now know that Trump is a pinball that eventually always bounces into the wrong slot, and will act accordingly.

Meanwhile Mueller is on a steady course.  Today Paul Manafort’s former partner and former Trump campaign official Rick Gates pleaded guilty and started cooperating with the investigation.  It will put tremendous pressure on Manafort and soon bring Trump in Mueller’s sight.

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