The firm and defiant yet calm and reasoned response of British leaders to Saturday night's terrorist attack on London Bridge, which involved three men who steered a rented van into pedestrians and then got out and began stabbing people, was pitch perfect. The response by Donald Trump, on the other hand, has surely set a new low in statesmanship (or perhaps anti-statesmanship) by an American president as he lashed out at London's mayor, used the death of seven Brits to promote his travel ban and generally embraced his customary hysteria and hyperbole after any attack he can connect to Muslims.
Americans may have grown accustomed to President Donald Trump's embarrassing Twitter forays, but how awful to mock London's mayor for attempting to keep his city calm after the attack and telling people not to be alarmed by the increased presence of police. "Londoners will see an increased police presence today and over the course of the next few days. There's no reason to be alarmed. One of the things the police and all of us need to do is ensure that we're as safe as we possibly can be," Mayor Sadiq Khan said in a released statement.
Here's how the president responded to the mayor's words: "We must stop being politically correct and get down to the business of security for our people. If we don't get smart it will only get worse," Trump tweeted. "At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and Mayor of London says there is 'no reason to be alarmed!'"
But that was only the beginning. Trump threw his own administration under the bus (and presumably himself) by tweeting Monday that his travel ban (and yes, he's now calling what Sean Spicer once insisted was "not a travel ban" a travel ban) should not have been the "watered down, politically correct version" now under review by the Supreme Court. So much for only needing a 90-day "temporary pause" in travel to the United States from certain majority-Muslim countries while the administration could formulate an "extreme vetting" process. As Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., quickly pointed out to reporters, the president sabotaged his own court case, once again making it clear he seeks to discriminate based on religion.
Scaring people is not leadership. Making the London attack all about your own political interests and criticizing London's mayor on misleading grounds isn't presidential either. Why not stand by our allies? Why not express support for the victims? Why not take this moment to show compassion or offer hope? It appears in Trump's world view, it's always about him alone having the solution, when, in fact, he has no broad, consistent or functional counter-terrorism policy to offer whatsoever.
The British know adversity. In 1939, the best-selling song was the rousing "There'll Always Be An England," which makes no mention of Germans or bombs or the coming war. It was an uplifting celebration of a country's fierce pride and determination. "Never, never, never give in," said Winston Churchill. Nearly 80 years later, Prime Minister Theresa May said "Enough is enough" referring not only to Saturday's attack but to the May 22 suicide bombing at Manchester Arena that killed the attacker and 22 concert-goers, injuring at least 119.
And what is Trump doing? He doubled down on his criticism of Mayor Khan, tweeting Monday that the mayor had to "think fast" to come up with a "pathetic excuse" to explain his earlier statement. What is truly pathetic is choosing such a moment, hours after a terrorist attack, to criticize an ally before the city can even bury its dead.
Such childishness is the opposite of what's already evident in the United Kingdom, a return to the "keep calm and carry on" mantra of World War II. In London, some of the post-attack ire was directed at American press accounts that suggested the city was "reeling," meaning "staggered" or "swaying" -- a Class A insult in the land of stiff upper lips and stoic resolve. Instead, one of the most popular images shared from the United Kingdom was that of a gentleman leaving the scene (perhaps "fleeing," but even that description is in dispute on social media) with a mostly-full pint of ale in his hand.
That doesn't make Londoners weak, that suggests they are capable of keeping their balance in more ways than one -- and retaining a bit of humor while doing so. "It's called 'leadership,' Donald," was how Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling responded to President Trump's criticism of London's mayor on Twitter, " if we need an alarmist blowhard, we'll call."
-- The Baltimore Sun
trump is a silly man. What we're going through would make for a very funny absurdist novel if it weren't real. If only...