Gary Horton | The President Who Said Way Too Much

“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!”

So tweeted our empathy-impaired, ham-fisted president to the French during their national tragedy.

“Somebody get this guy a hard hat and a hose, stat! He’ll solve this thing! Fireman Trump to the rescue!” quipped a blogger.

While the entire rest of the civilized world deeply and sincerely expressed pain, anguish, sorrowfulness, sadness and empathy – our president knew just what to do. He’d advise the French and the entire world on his best suggestion for putting that nasty fire out. “Perhaps flying water tankers could be used to put it out. Must act quickly!” Once again, he knew better than the professionals.

As if the French were just biding their time with the fire. As if they were at a loss for ideas and needed the advice from an amateur fireman tweeter. Who knew Trump was a bona-fide fireman before a reality show host?

No, no, no, Mr. Trump. The French were insulted with your tweet, and their emergency response leader fired back, “All means are being used – except for water-bombing aircrafts which, if used, could lead to the collapse of the entire structure of the cathedral.”

Can you imagine water bombing hitting the sides of an unbuttressed 800-year-old cathedral at water velocities of over 200 mph! Water bombers on an unstable building? Can you imagine a miss, hitting the Louvre, and saturating the Mona Lisa, on top of everything else?

It’s always got to be about Donald. The man who forever says too much. About everything. 

Donald says the Finnish should be raking up their forests to prevent their fires. He says Californians don’t know anything and forests and fires and we’re mismanaging our entire ecosystem. There’s no crisis too gut-churning for Donald not to inject his ill-informed opinions. And what’s this attraction with Trump and fires?

But Notre Dame takes the cake for tone-deafness. To presume to know better than they? By comparison, our soon-to-be 2020 U.S. President Pete Buttigieg spoke to the French in French (Pete speaks seven languages fluently), saying, “To the people of France, I would like to say that Notre Dame Cathedral was like a gift to the human race. We share in the pain but we also thank you for this gift to civilization.”

Now, that’s a bit more of an empathetic response, and far more presidential sounding – at least from back when presidents sounded presidential.

Trump would be more accepted as president if he simply said less. Just tweet, speak and inject opinions, less. Less gaffes. Less insults. Less lies. Less needless ruffling of feathers. Less in the spotlight and more behind closed doors. More “keep it to yourself.” But Trump, more than anything, is a self-promoter. His name is his brand and deep in his bones he’s helplessly programmed to inject himself personally into just about anything he sees on TV – for self-promotion. 

Yes, Trump would achieve far greater appeal if he’d stop the self-inflicted wounds. There was no need to lie about Stormy Daniels – he told the whole world he didn’t know her and there was no affair. No need to insult John McCain and all of America. No need to forever run off with the insults of women bleeding and fat pigs and all the rest. No need to semi-embrace neo-Nazis.

More than anything, Donald Trump is the man who speaks too much.

For most people, knowing when to speak and when not, when to inject and when to be still, is a skill. Knowing when and not to speak is a true skill often developed through mistakes made and lessons learned. To the parent of a child ran over by a car, we would never say, “He should have been looking both ways.” 

To a grieving widow of a husband died from cancer, we’d never say, “Too bad he smoked so much.” 

Or to the French, “Use water-bombers – fast!”

 You get the drill. To everything there is a season to talk and a season to refrain from talking.

I have a friend whose wife died of cancer. A faith leader to the family visited my friend while the wife was in the other room, just days away from passing. His Trumpian comment, “You know, if you had greater faith you could heal her cancer.” 

My friend had dedicated his entire life and most of his fortune to his church. You can imagine how he felt. What an insult too many words can be.

Perhaps in our society we need to be more still, more silent. More hugs, less words. More empathy and less opinion. 

My mom used to say, “If you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say it.” Boy, was she right. 

And mom would surely give that same advice to Trump: “Hold those tweets if you don’t have anything good to say!” 

Mr. President, the last thing the French needed to hear while rescuing their most important public monument was a loud-mouth amateur firefighter tweeting his ignorance to the entire world. 

Once more, a presidential tweet insult. Once more, our nation is made to be international buffoons.

Please, please President Trump: Just stop saying so much.

Gary Horton’s “Full Speed to Port!” has appeared in The Signal since 2006.

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