Many Americans were uninspired by the fact that President Donald Trump needed cliff notes when he met with shooting victims, their family members, and community members of Parkland, Florida, earlier this week. But many of the victims themselves were similarly dismayed by the president’s private interactions with them also.
One young woman in particular described her meeting with Trump in less-than-glowing terms.
“He said he heard that I was a big fan of his, and then he said ‘I’m a big fan of yours too,’” Samantha Fuentes told The New York Times. “I'm pretty sure he made that up. Talking to the president, I've never been so unimpressed by a person in my life. He didn't make me feel better in the slightest.”
Fuentes’ description of the president visiting with her contradicts the narrative of the president being sympathetic to these children and their families. Indeed, many photos that the White House released in the days after the school shooting that took place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14 show Trump smiling and giving “thumbs up” hand gestures in what many considered a solemn and doleful situation.
Despite what many may see as a questionable choice, Trump used the picture of him giving a thumbs up — again, just days after a mass shooting that left 17 individuals dead and dozens injured — as his current banner picture on his Twitter profile.
Trump just changed his Twitter banner to him grinning and giving a thumbs up while meeting with people who just responded to a deadly school shooting pic.twitter.com/hNQnIJhfbu— Robert Maguire (@RobertMaguire_) February 17, 2018
Another student said he was similarly perturbed by Trump’s private interaction with him.
“Everything I said was directly from the heart, and he had to write down ‘I hear you,’” 18-year-old student Samuel Zeif said. “Half the time during that meeting his arms were crossed — I kept wanting to say, ‘Mr. President, uncross your arms.’ To me, that is the international sign for closedmindedness; it's really just a big ‘no.’”
It wouldn’t be the first time that Trump showed a lack of compassion to friends and family members of Americans who had been killed. In October 2017, Trump purportedly justified the death of a Green Beret soldier to a grieving widow by saying that her husband “knew what he signed up for” — and then suggested that the widow was a liar by denying he said that, even though several others were privy to the conversation they had and corroborated her side of the story.
It’s natural for some people to give the president the benefit of the doubt in these private conversations that aren't public record. But his behavior in public (specifically his Twitter tantrums) lend credence to the idea that he’s just not a sympathetic individual.
Americans deserve to have a president who can lead them, but also one who can console them during times of national tragedy. Trump proves time and again he’s not emotionally equipped to carry out those types of duties.