Former President Ronald Reagan’s daughter Patti Davis has written an Op-Ed in The Washington Post, urging the country to look for its leadership somewhere other than the Oval Office.
Entitled ‘Let’s stop asking Trump for comfort after tragedies,” the piece tackles the issue in exactly the manner the title suggests, with Davis dissecting what is now a habitual failing by the president to serve as a unifying force during moments of national darkness.
Davis writes bout ahout her father’s ability to comfort the United States, specifically in the aftermath of the Challenger disaster and his decision to be a “shoulder big enough for us to cry on.” She goes on to point out how compassionately presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama responded in the wake of the Columbine shooting, 9/11, and the Sandy Hook shooting respectively.
“Each spoke eloquently, with somber compassion and with reverence for the pain of the victims and the shock of a saddened country. Our grief was reflected in their eyes. We didn’t doubt that their hearts were breaking along with ours,” Davis writes.
Davis contrasts these examples with Trump’s behavior in the wake of the MAGAbomber scare and now the synagogue shooting. Whereas his predecessor showed the aforementioned empathy and strength, Trump showed once again what a callous man he truly is.
“Trump’s response? He joked that he almost canceled an event because, after having to speak to reporters about the shooting in the rain, he was having ‘a bad hair day.’ Yes, I know, he first read what was scripted for him and called the act “evil.” But he has also called Democrats, others who oppose him and the news media evil. The word doesn’t hold much meaning coming from him,” Davis writes.
From there, Davis moves on to the heart of her piece, which is the search for moral and emotional leadership outside the White House. Her answer is a powerful one, as she suggests that everyday Americans will have to fill the role that the president once did. All of us have a responsibility to comfort and care for each other, all of us have are called to lead in our own lives and to serve as examples in our communities.
“This president will never offer comfort, compassion or empathy to a grieving nation. It’s not in him. When questioned after a tragedy, he will always be glib and inappropriate. So I have a wild suggestion: Let’s stop asking him. His words are only salt in our wounds,” Davis writes.
While it’s sad that we have come to this, that there is zero chance that our president will one day suddenly wake up with the ability to lead, there is some comfort to be had in the suggestion that we can still rely on one another as Americans. Trump will eventually disappear from public life, and it’s up to all of us to ensure there’s a country remaining when he does.