During brief remarks to reporters on Tuesday morning, President Trump offered a very strange description of the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history. While clutching one of the $40 hats sold by his campaign, Trump told reporters that “what happened in Las Vegas is in many ways a miracle.”
President Trump, referring to first responders: "What happened in Las Vegas, is in many ways a miracle" https://t.co/2XlfM6NKdg
— NBC News (@NBCNews) October 3, 2017
“The police department has done such an incredible job, and we’ll be talking about gun laws as time goes by, but I do have to say — how quickly the police department was able to get in was really, very much of a miracle,” he added. “They’ve done an amazing job.”
According to police, the alleged perpetrator of the Las Vegas shooting — Stephen Paddock — killed himself in the hotel room from which he shot and killed 59 people and injured more than 500 others on Sunday night. On Monday, Newsweek reported that “Las Vegas police were in the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino within minutes on Sunday evening as gunfire rang out from a room on the 32nd floor — but they didn’t enter the room of shooter Stephen Paddock for more than an hour.”
Specifics of the police response aside, the use of this language to describe the deaths of dozens of people is jarring. But for Trump, it’s not unusual. In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria ravaging Puerto Rico, Trump said that “the loss of life, it’s always tragic. But it’s been incredible.” He added that “people can’t believe how successful [the administration’s response] has been, relatively speaking.” Meanwhile, the mayor of San Juan was sounding the alarm, pleading for more federal help.
During a news conference held after Hurricane Harvey hit the Houston area with unprecedented rainfall in August, Trump introduced Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Director William Brock Long as “a man who really has become very famous on television in the last couple of days” and then thanked Gov. Greg Abbott (R), saying, “We won’t say congratulations. We don’t want to do that. We don’t want to congratulate. We’ll congratulate each other when it’s all finished.” He didn’t once mention anyone killed or displaced by the storm.
The president’s propensity for off-key remarks following tragedies has prompted the media to dramatically lower the bar for him, praising him if he manages to read a prepared statement off a teleprompter without offending anyone. On Monday, numerous CNN staffers lauded Trump’s response to the Las Vegas shooting as “presidential” simply because Trump, to that point, hadn’t tweeted anything inappropriate about the incident.
The Washington Post described brief prepared remarks Trump made in which he expressed sympathy for the Las Vegas victims as representing “a new tone.”
“Trump somberly followed the practiced script of past presidents in times of crisis,” the Post’s reported. “Trump identified no clear villain. He issued no call to action. A president typically quick to make black-and-white declarations spoke instead in shades of gray.