Meacham on MSNBC: Trump’s Post-Shooting Address Like ‘Hostage Video’

In the midst of President Trump visiting with victims of the mass shootings in Dayton and El Paso on Wednesday, on MSNBC, presidential historian and regular liberal pundit Jon Meacham bemoaned Trump’s response to the attacks and even derided his Monday White House address denouncing them as a “hostage video.”

“I was shocked, honestly, watching the speech the other morning....People made this comment, but it did feel like a hostage video, as if the establishment had come in and said, ‘You have to be a human being here, so get through this as quickly as possible,’” Meacham ranted to anchor Craig Melvin late in the 11:00 a.m. ET hour.

 

 

The exchange began with Melvin lamenting: “When you compare President Obama’s response to these horrible acts of violence, whether Charleston, whether in Sandy Hook, and then you compare this President’s response, Jon, is that this current president is incapable of it, or is it that he’s unwilling to do it?”

The host asked an identical question to Democratic Ohio Congressman and 2020 presidential candidate Tim Ryan earlier in the hour.

Meacham replied: “I don’t know, but he’s self-evidently not willing to do it. So capability becomes a second question. He just – it doesn’t interest him, I suppose.” He went on to complain: “And we’re just in – we’re on two different planets with Obama and Trump.”

Earlier in the discussion, Meacham hoped Democratic 2020 contenders would be “filling that vacuum” left by Trump:

I think you saw the real Donald Trump in what he tweeted this morning, attacking Congressman O’Rourke. Where we are right now is we have a president who has abdicated the genuine efficacy of the role of what Franklin Roosevelt called the presidency as a place preeminently of moral leadership. And I think what you’re seeing today, which is fascinating, is both Senator Booker and Vice President Biden filling that vacuum....And I think on all those scores – and this is not a partisan point – on all those scores this president has come up short again and again.

If only the media was interested in showing “moral leadership” by reining in their own vile rhetoric.

Here is a transcript of the August 7 segment:

11:54 AM ET

(...)

CRAIG MELVIN: Mr. Meacham, I start with you. We’ve talked a bit this hour, and in the past as well, about the role of the president as consoler-in-chief. The President is going to be trying to fill that role, play that role in two cities today. If the past is any indication, Jon Meacham, what do you suspect we will hear from the President?

JON MEACHAM: I suspect we’ll hear, at least out of his mouth, fairly wrote, fairly routine words of attempted comfort and reassurance. I think you saw the real Donald Trump in what he tweeted this morning, attacking Congressman O’Rourke. Where we are right now is we have a president who has abdicated the genuine efficacy of the role of what Franklin Roosevelt called the presidency as a place preeminently of moral leadership. And I think what you’re seeing today, which is fascinating, is both Senator Booker and Vice President Biden filling that vacuum. There is – people can argue that it’s, quote, “just symbolic.” As Flannery O’Connor once said, “You know, if the Eucharist is just symbolic, then to hell with it.” Symbols matter, moments like this matter, and the action you do on the policy front matters. And I think on all those scores – and this is not a partisan point – on all those scores this president has come up short again and again.

(...)

11:57 AM

MELVIN: Jon, I was in Charleston, South Carolina more than four years ago when President Obama spoke in the wake of that terrorist attack at Mother Emanuel Church. And I want to remind folks what President Obama said in the wake of that shooting. Here’s just part of it.

[CLIP OF OBAMA SINGING AMAZING GRACE]

MELVIN: There’s a man singing Amazing Grace to the country in the wake of a mass shooting. When you compare President Obama’s response to these horrible acts of violence, whether Charleston, whether in Sandy Hook, and then you compare this President’s response, Jon, is that this current president is incapable of it, or is it that he’s unwilling to do it?

MEACHAM: I don’t know, but he’s self-evidently not willing to do it. So capability becomes a second question. He just – it doesn’t interest him, I suppose. I was shocked, honestly, watching the speech the other morning with Vice President Pence. People made this comment, but it did feel like a hostage video, as if the establishment had come in and said, “You have to be a human being here, so get through this as quickly as possible.”

And we’re just in – we’re on two different planets with Obama and Trump. And it’s fascinating, isn’t it, that historically and culturally that Trump rose to his current political prominence by suggesting incorrectly and repeatedly that Barack Obama had not been born in the United States and was, therefore, an illegitimate president. So you have this racist theme that helped fuel the rise of this particular president.

That’s a fascinating connection, because we now see – and I know Senator Booker talked about it and I know Vice President Biden is going to talk about it – we have this argument sometimes, and you saw it in Charleston, that this is not who we are. Well, the hell it’s not who we are. Of course it is. It’s who we are on our worst day. The role of a president and the role of every citizen, of you and me and everybody else, is to try to heed those better angels that Lincoln talked about, and we’re not going to do it all the time, and bad things are gonna happen and no piece of legislation, with due respect to the Congressman, is going to solve that. We can’t let – ultimately, completely.

But we can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. And I think if we don’t take moments like this and try to advance the life of the country in the way President Obama did, in the way George Bush – both George Bushs did, in the way Bill Clinton did. Again, not partisan, they tried to push us forward out of tragedy. And that’s what we have to get back to.  

MELVIN: I think that’s a good spot to end this hour. Jon Meacham, thank you.

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