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The Glaring Lack Of Empathy And Leadership From Donald Trump In Times Of Crisis

October 29, 2018

We have always had a president in our nation who was able to show empathy and use his office and words to bring a nation together during times of crisis.  That quality of a president has never, perhaps, been understood more clearly than now when we view its glaring absence.

I was on-air at WDOR the night President Reagan spoke to the nation following the horrific explosion of Space Shuttle Challenger. In my lifetime there is perhaps no other speech which so clearly demonstrates the role of a president at times of national crisis, or the heights of rhetorical balm that can come with the office.  I sat in the broadcast studio and was moved to tears.  Contrast national moments such as that one to the current occupant in the White House who continually stokes the anger and resentments of people for partisan advantage.

Two episodes ring out that show how Trump’s lack of empathy are most obvious, and troubling.  During the campaign he made fun of a disabled journalist.  It was a truly pathetic display. During his time in office he made one of the most gut-wrenching displays when he showed poor behavior toward the widow of Army Sgt. La David Johnson, who was killed in Niger.  Trump failed to offer comforting words and then petulantly defended himself on Twitter.  It was almost unbearable to watch play out on the national stage.  The lack of his empathy allowed for some of his followers to bring down a withering barrage of abuse on the grieving widow during what we all know will be the worst moment of her life

Those two examples demonstrate that Trump is not able to either resist being mean or fails to grasp the need, and the ability of his office to lift others up when they need the nation’s support.

The episodes one can mention in this regard are all too numerous and well-known.   The one veterans will never forget was when Trump showed smallness when at first he refused to keep the White House flag at half-mast to honor the late Senator John McCain.  It was only belatedly that he allowed his staff to put out a mildly laudatory statement in his name and allow the flag to be lowered.

Character matters.  We say those words often but also take the concept for granted.  When the lack of character is so obvious, and smacks at us daily, it becomes a reminder of how much this nation lost when Trump secured the votes of the Electoral College.

One Comment
  1. tom permalink
    October 29, 2018 11:38 AM

    Let’s be honest. The left ( or large segments thereof ) have indicated that “thoughts and prayers” are not acceptable, so it is unreasonable to expect any from President Trump (whom I personally despise). The president, like many of the public, are confused, watching facebook to determine in expressions of sympathy or empathy are acceptable. This is not to be confused with the fact that had any expressions of sympathy or empathy offered by the president would almost immediately be dismissed and strongly criticized in most forums. I know it is an easy cheap post, but your criticism is misguided.

    Secondly, these sad events are certainly not unique. They happened during the Bush, Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations as well. What leadership did they show? None, really. If they had, perhaps we would not have to discuss this situation. This president and his administration are, perhaps, the least likely to be able develop a response to whatever problem this represents. Don’t encourage them to try, please.

    I believe that Trump is a crap president, but that does not mean our criticism should be irrational.

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