When Americans look back on September 11, 2001, and the horrific terrorist attacks from that day that killed thousands, many of us recall the leadership of then New York Mayor, Rudy Giuliani. Among other things, we remember Giuliani’s numerous television appearances where he communicated information, mourned with the country, and urged calmness from its citizens.
Imagine if, in response to one of those briefings, then U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair (a close ally of ours) inexplicably latched onto a fragment of something Giuliani said, removed it from its correct context, and began publicly heckling the mayor over it. How angry would that have made you, as an American citizen, to hear one of our leaders mocked by a foreign dignitary (especially the leader of a country) over an effort to comfort citizens following a terrorist attack?
Now, imagine that there was a terrorist attack in London, resulting in multiple deaths and nearly 50 wounded. Imagine the city’s mayor, soon after, going on television and making the following statement to his constituents and the rest of his countrymen:
“There can be no justification for the acts of these terrorists and I am quite clear that we will never let them win. My message to Londoners and visitors to our great city is to be calm and vigilant today. You will see an increased police presence today, including armed officers and uniformed officers. There is no reason to be alarmed by this. We are the safest global city in the world. You saw last night as a consequence of our planning, our preparation, the rehearsals that take place, the swift response from the emergency services tackling the terrorists and also helping the injured.”
If you were a citizen of the United Kingdom (or merely a person of moral conscience), how would you feel if the President of the United States cherry-picked the phrase “no reason to be alarmed” from those remarks, falsely portrayed it as referencing the attack itself (instead of police activity), and then publicly and repeatedly heckled the mayor for not recognizing the gravity of the situation?
Amazingly, that’s exactly what’s been going for the past few days between President Trump and London mayor, Sadiq Khan, whose city is still reeling from Islamic terrorists having murdered seven people (and wounding 48) there last Saturday night. It was the third terrorist attack in the U.K. this year.
“At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and Mayor of London says there is ‘no reason to be alarmed!'” President Trump condescendingly tweeted on Sunday.
The remark, which needlessly strains our relationship with a key ally, earned Trump quick condemnation not only from leaders in the U.K., but also American leaders from both sides of the political aisle.
But the president wasn’t done. This morning, Trump doubled-down, tweeting, “Pathetic excuse by London Mayor Sadiq Khan who had to think fast on his ‘no reason to be alarmed’ statement. MSM is working hard to sell it!”
Again, Khan’s statement was perfectly appropriate in its proper context. There’s nothing for the MSM (mainstream media) to “sell.” The same cannot be said, however, for the Trump faithful (including the White House), who’ve once again been put in a position where they’re inclined to try and rationalize their guy’s disturbing, embarrassing, and self-sabotaging behavior.
But they’ll do their best, no matter how ridiculous it makes them look. They always do.
Why has Trump decided to pick this fight? If you know anything about our president, you’ve probably already concluded that it has nothing to do with the terrorist attack, or anything Khan said when addressing it. Sadly, it seems to be about a personal grudge.
I wish I were joking.
As Dan Scavino Jr., Trump’s social media director, made sure to point out last night, Kahn harshly criticized then Candidate Trump a little over a year ago on Twitter.
“Trump’s ignorant view of Islam could make both our countries less safe. It risks alienating mainstream Muslims. London has proved him wrong,” Kahn tweeted on May 10, 2016, in the final days of the Republican presidential primary.
Is Trump really so petty that he would use a terrorist attack on a critic’s city as the perfect opportunity to deliver one of his coveted political counter-punches? I wish I could think of a more sane explanation — one less characteristic of our president — but I can’t.