President Donald Trump hosted a listening session at the White House for survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas school shooting where 17 people were murdered in another mass shooting in America. Family members of those killed attended as well and everyone’s emotions were palpable … except for Trump who appeared to need Cliffs Notes on how to appear like a functioning human capable of empathy. The Associated Press photos of the talking points Trump had are simply astonishing and deeply alarming.
Written in what does not appear to be Trump’s handwriting were the following:
1. What would you want me to know about your experience?
2. What can we do to help you feel safe?
3. Do you see some[words hidden] something … effective?
4. Resources? Ideas?
5. I hear you.
President Donald Trump holds notes during a White House listening session with students and parents affected by school shootings. (AP Photo by Carolyn Kaster) pic.twitter.com/Z0lZbSVaoF
— AP Politics (@AP_Politics) February 21, 2018
Let me first get it out of the way that I know many of us need notes to stay on task. Former presidents used notes and the teleprompter for many forums. I’ve run meetings; I’m not above some notes to keep me on task, either. But notes like these are Weekend At Bernie’s type stuff — they’re for the person who is dead inside and has no ability to empathize with the rest of the human race. Hell, Trump has to have the number 45 on his cuff to probably remind him of the job he is currently holding. The man is a total sham.
These notes were for Trump to feign empathy as parents spoke out about their children being gunned down at school. These notes were so the President of the United States doesn’t say something horrific to the kids who watched as their best friends were killed. Sure, he seemed to listen along with Betsy DeVos and Mike Pence. He even had a solution — to arm teachers and get rid of gun-free school zones. Maybe that’s what was on the other side of those notes — Stop gun violence with more guns! Trump also said, “We’re going to go very strong into age — age of purchase, and we’re also going to go very strong into the mental health aspect of what’s going on.” Those remarks, clearly, were off the cuff.
It also seems clear that the White House heard the criticism and fire from many kids demanding change and chose to ignore them. Outspoken activists from the most recent high school shooting (as of this writing), Cameron Kasky and Emma Gonzalez, were reportedly not invited to this listening session. This is quite suspect. Did Trump cherry pick his audience?
It’s hard to come to any other conclusion than Trump doesn’t want to hear what Kasky and Gonzalez have to say. He doesn’t want to hear about sensible gun laws. He doesn’t want to hear what the majority of Americans are demanding. Most of us — even Republicans — want stricter gun laws.
Trump is a vacant body, fueled by Diet Coke and lies. He needs notes to act human. He needs notes so he doesn’t go on a tangent using tired and laughable slogans like Make America Great Again. He needs notes so he doesn’t start campaigning at inappropriate times. He needs to be fed the line “I hear you” because everyone fucking knows he isn’t listening to anything anyone sensible is saying and it’s all a charade. He put on his “45” shirt just so he can playact at being president while our children are slaughtered.
We need a real president that understands our pain and gives a fuck, not a puppet reading a script so people will think he cares.