As if any of us needed another reminder of just how unsuited Donald Trump is to hold the presidency, he gave us one on Monday as a fire was ripping through the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.
In response to the devastating blaze, Trump didn’t offer words of sympathy or grief. Instead, he appointed himself fire expert and lectured French first responders.
“Perhaps flying water tankers could be used to put it out,” the president said in a tweet, as if he just discovered that water is used to put out fires. “Must act quickly!”
So horrible to watch the massive fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Perhaps flying water tankers could be used to put it out. Must act quickly!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 15, 2019
While the world has become accustomed to Trump’s harebrained responses to major international events, it’s still important to repeatedly point out just how bizarrely inappropriate they are.
It may no longer be surprising that Trump behaves this way on a day-to-day basis, but we should never stop acknowledging just how abnormal and unpresidential it is.
Meanwhile, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton stepped up
Even though the pundit president in the Oval Office left much to be desired in his initial reaction to the tragic blaze in Paris, former President Barack Obama and should-be-President Hillary Clinton stepped up to the plate to fill the leadership vacuum.
In his response, Obama shared a picture of one of his visits to Notre Dame, and said, “[W]e’re thinking of the people of France in your time of grief.”
Notre Dame is one of the world’s great treasures, and we’re thinking of the people of France in your time of grief. It’s in our nature to mourn when we see history lost – but it’s also in our nature to rebuild for tomorrow, as strong as we can. pic.twitter.com/SpMEvv1BzB
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) April 15, 2019
Striking a similarly presidential tone, Hillary Clinton said her “heart goes out to Paris,” adding that the cathedral is a “symbol of our ability as human beings to unite for a higher purpose—to build breathtaking spaces for worship that no one person could have built on their own.”
My heart goes out to Paris. Notre Dame is a symbol of our ability as human beings to unite for a higher purpose—to build breathtaking spaces for worship that no one person could have built on their own. I wish France strength and shared purpose as they grieve and rebuild.
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) April 15, 2019
What happened in Paris on Monday is devastating not just for the people of France but for the entire world.
While the current U.S. president is unwilling and unable to rise to such occasions and deliver an appropriate message of unity and empathy and grief, it was reassuring that his predecessor and Democratic opponent in 2016 – the woman who won the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes – were able to fill the void.
Sean Colarossi currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was an organizing fellow for both of President Obama’s presidential campaigns. He also worked with Planned Parenthood as an Affordable Care Act Outreach Organizer in 2014, helping northeast Ohio residents obtain health insurance coverage.