BY SUSAN ESTRICH
The shooting came first: a horrifying massacre in Florida that left 17 dead and a community cut down. Then young people began finding their voices, as exemplified in a town hall in which students who survived the shooting demanded answers from politicians – making hollow political-speak sound like what it is. Marco Rubio stammered. Why does he take money from the National Rifle Association? Why won’t he stop? He couldn’t answer basic questions from high school kids. The smooth-talking senator had nothing to say.
Make way for President Donald Trump, who’s doing his best to cover that bald spot on his head, while it’s the empty spot inside his head that I worry about. Trump is now floating the idea of having teachers come to school armed and dangerous. They can collect bonuses for doing so, assuming they don’t get shot, or shot at, or have their gun stolen, or used against them, or used against others in the classroom. And yet we still can’t take any legislative measures to ensure guns don’t fall into the wrong hands, because Marco Rubio’s friends at the NRA would rather give felons weapons of mass destruction than – may the skies fall down – allow a real background check.
I have never understood why reasonable, responsible gun owners aren’t even more determined than I am to see that guns are available only to those who have registered and obtained licenses – through a process overseen with at least as much attention to detail as we give to the registration of a car. A car has many purposes. A gun has only one.
The only armed deputy that day at Stoneman Douglas High School was apparently frozen at the scene. But that would never happen to a teacher: They’d leap into action, right? But of course it would. It just would. We teachers are trained to teach our kids, not shoot to kill to defend them. I would like to think I could do that, but I have always thought my classroom was safer without guns.
So Trump wants to arm the teachers, even as he criticizes the deputy who didn’t act. The deputy and teachers didn’t act like Navy SEALs because they aren’t Navy SEALs.
If you were still wondering what kind of man Trump is, whether he cares about people like you, whether he cares about families and the struggles that unite us, you have your answer this week. How else in the world can you possibly explain the president’s decision to again mock – yes, mock – Sen. John McCain for returning from brain-cancer treatments to vote against the punitive and incomplete Republican health care plan? Trump was mad, fair enough. But you don’t mock a man who has served his country in many ways; you don’t call him or his vote against the bill a “mess.” It’s democracy, which is sometimes messy. Of course, it was also Trump who earlier questioned why John McCain, the longtime prisoner of war held by the North Vietnamese, should be honored. “I like people who weren’t captured,” Trump said. [No, he is not smarter than a fifth-grader, because even a fifth-grader would know better than to say that.]
Meanwhile, the Mueller train steams ahead, seemingly unaffected by the weather around it. Nothing is sweeter to a prosecutor than turning someone most people haven’t heard of [Rick Gates] to get someone most people have heard of [Paul Manafort]. Manafort is someone who has lots of people he’s trying to protect: There’s nothing a prosecutor likes more. Because as everyone knows, there really is only one way to protect a lot of people – and that is by giving up a single person who is more important than all of them. This is how the prosecution builds its case.
Not a very good week for Trump.
– Susan Estrich’s columns appear regularly in The Oklahoma Observer