Today the Democratic midterms campaign moves to Pittsburgh, not to grieve the 11 innocent victims of a demented nut, but to see if one among the mourners, President Donald Trump, says or does anything that could be construed as racist, insensitive, anti-Semitic, anti-globalist or critical of identity politicians in general, that could prove helpful to the party’s ambitions at the polls next Tuesday. If they are really lucky the President will have one of his shoelaces undone when he greets the chief Rabbi, or his plane will arrive 10 minutes late into Pittsburgh airport, just like Hitler’s once did at a different airport in the 1930s.
These are things to be hoped for, since the ‘blue wave’ campaign – never much concerned with policy discussion – is now exhausted of ideas and entirely dependent upon negative reaction to the President to swing voters in its favour. Has anyone conducted a poll on the effect of Cesar Sayoc’s distribution of unexploding powder among leading Democrats on the electorate last week? If so I haven’t seen it. Democrats may have banked on a mini-surge in their favour because Sayoc was a Trump supporter and Trump put inverted commas around the word ‘bomb’ in one of his tweets. On the other hand, they may have lost a vote or two by fatuously claiming that the President incited Sayoc to his dastardly deeds through ‘rhetoric’. So, at a guess: no loss, no gain on that one.
Pittsburgh is an altogether different affair and even the most skilful among the blue-wave propagandists will be finding the catastrophe at the Tree of Life Synagogue a little harder to exploit, for this time round real people have been killed, the alleged assassin is anti-Trump, the President is an acknowledged friend to the Jewish people, and the great yellow-haired showman, forever master of the unpredictable, has gone and done the most unpredictable thing yet – he has responded exactly as a normal politician always responds to a disaster of this kind on his watch. Yes, Trump’s reaction to Pittsburgh is identical to Obama’s reaction to the Orlando massacre two years ago. Both men posted a dignified tweet, followed by a scripted announcement, followed by attention to unrelated business, followed by a visit to the crime scene to mourn the victims and console their families. He even used the textbook cliché of all politicians everywhere ‘my heart goes out to….’
If Democrats are worrying that attempts to lay the blame on Trump’s ‘rhetoric’ are backfiring at the polls, they will be relieved to learn that the award for the silliest headline goes to an English newspaper, The Guardian, which ran a piece entitled: ‘Donald Trump’s rhetoric has stoked anti-Semitism and hatred, experts warn’, an assertion that would cost the Democrats at least 83 votes if it were ever spotted in America. Loose-cannon Democratic hopeful, Michael Avenatti, who dreams of being President one day, has tweeted that Trump is ‘complicit’, ‘must be accountable’ and ‘encourages this behaviour’ – minus 124 votes for the Democrats I should have thought – not as bad as the 3.5 million black votes he lost for his party last week by stating that only a white male should stand for President in 2020. A far-left Jewish sub-group from Pittsburgh that sent a pompous letter signed by 11 progressives saying that Trump is not welcome in their city. They will have added 421 votes (mainly Jewish) to the Republican total, while the newspapers that described these non-entities as ‘Jewish leaders’ will have handed the Republicans another 16 votes.
So how are things going to pan out in Pittsburgh today? The President is said to lack empathy. He is above all a businessman whose happiest interactions are when he is winning on contracts in the boardroom. There is no deal to be made in Pittsburgh and nothing financial to gain, so he may find himself a little out of depth among the grieving. But that is no bad thing. Of course if he shows emotion – a croaky voice, a tearful eye – the media will say he is feeble and constitutionally unsuited to his leadership role. If he fails to collapse to the floor in a prostrate heap of inconsolable blubberings, he will be accused of callous disregard for Jewish life, an anti-Semite, a barbarian etc.
As anyone who has been involved in serious trauma will confirm, it is often to the un-empathetic, to the psychopath, that a victim turns for greatest support in a crisis. Those who lack empathy have some advantages in life. Without naming names I can say that I have found these weirdly cool types indispensible at funerals where their emotional detachment consoles, perhaps a little less than the eulogy or the music, but much more than the sermon, the collect, and any amount of personal declamation at the wake. I am guessing that President Trump will do splendidly in Pittsburgh today and by his un-empathetic actions succeed inadvertently in depriving the Democrats of another 32 votes in the midterms.