Opinion writer

(AP Photo/John Minchillo)

THE MORNING PLUM:

Last night, snipers killed five police officers and wounded seven others at an otherwise peaceful rally protesting recent police shootings. Not much is known about the attackers, but at a presser this morning, the Dallas police chief said one attacker had indicated during a standoff that “he said he was upset about the recent police shootings,” and that “the suspect stated he wanted to kill white people, especially white officers.”

Today Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton canceled their events, but Trump issued a measured statement this morning expressing condolences for the victims, and adding these remarks:

We must restore law and order. We must restore the confidence of our people to be safe and secure in their homes and on the street.

The senseless, tragic deaths of two motorists in Louisiana and Minnesota reminds us how much more needs to be done….Our nation has become too divided. Too many Americans feel like they’ve lost hope. Crime is harming too many citizens. Racial tensions have gotten worse, not better. This isn’t the American Dream we all want for our children.

This is a time, perhaps more than ever, for strong leadership, love and compassion. We will pull through these tragedies.

It’s interesting that Trump alluded to the need to do something about the recent police shooting deaths in Louisiana and Minnesota — meaning the killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, both black men — particularly in the context of his suggestion that we must restore law and order via strong leadership.

The implication appears to be that the restoration of law and order and confidence in our safety also requires addressing the use of deadly force by police, which has disproportionately targeted black people, meaning the confidence of communities in the police must also be restored.

President Obama was a bit more explicit on this point. He condemned the killing of the officers as a “vicious, calculated, and despicable attack,” and then added:

“If communities are mistrustful of the police, that makes those law enforcement offers who are doing a great job, who are doing the right thing, that makes their lives harder,” Obama said, insisting that recognizing problems within law enforcement doesn’t equate to being anti-police.

“When people say ‘black lives matter,’ it doesn’t mean that blue lives don’t matter,” Obama said, referring to police officers. “But right now, the data shows that black folks are more vulnerable to these kinds of incidents. There is a particular burden that is being placed on a group of our fellow citizens.”

President Obama gave remarks on the Dallas shooting that has left at least five police officers dead, while at a summit in Warsaw, Poland, on July 8. (Reuters)

In other words, acknowledging the racial dimension to the problem of police overuse of lethal force is not anti-cop, and indeed, it is a necessary precursor to healing the divisions between communities and police, which will make the jobs of the vast majority of law enforcement professionals who are doing great work easier.

Trump appears to agree, at least to some degree. While he made no mention of the racial dimension to police killings, he today acknowledged that restoring confidence in public safety also requires doing “more” in response to this week’s police killing of two black men.

And that’s good. We’ll be hearing a lot more about this, too, since all of these horrific events will thrust the debate over police and criminal justice reform into the forefront of the presidential race.

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* FATAL POLICE SHOOTINGS ON THE RISE: The Post is keeping a running tally:

The number of fatal shootings by officers increased from 465 in the first six months of last year to 491 for the same period this year….This year has also seen more officers shot and killed in the line of duty and more officers prosecuted for questionable shootings….Blacks continued to be shot at 2.5 times the rate of whites.

One important difference: More and more of these shootings are getting captured on video, which could ultimately serve as an important impetus to action.

* HILLARY CLINTON LAYS LOW ON SHOOTINGS: Her first public comments:

Hopefully she’ll have a lot more to say soon.

 * A GOOD JOBS REPORT: The employment numbers for June are in:

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 287,000 in June, and the unemployment rate rose to 4.9 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today….Over the past three months, job gains have averaged 147,000 per month.

After last month’s bad jobs numbers, there was a lot of speculation that the recovery was losing steam in a big way, but that now looks like a premature judgement.

* CLINTON NARROWS VEEP LIST: CNN reports that Clinton has narrowed down her potential vice presidential picks to five: Senators Elizabeth Warren, Sherrod Brown, and Tim Kaine, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Labor Secretary Tom Perez.

The Warren and Brown floats are particularly interesting, suggesting that the Clinton camp may be mulling a campaign built on economic progressivism rather than moves to the center.

* WHY REPUBLICANS ENABLED RISE OF TRUMP: Paul Krugman argues that the longtime cynical GOP strategy of using race to get people to vote against their economic interests is partly responsible for the rise of Trump:

All Mr. Trump has done is to channel the racism that has always been a part of our political life…But there’s a reason these tendencies are sufficiently concentrated in the G.O.P….a cynical political strategy that the party’s establishment has pursued for decades…the modern Republican Party is in essence a machine designed to deliver high after-tax incomes to the 1 percent….But not many voters are interested in that goal. So the party has prospered politically by harnessing its fortunes to racial hostility, which it has not-so-discreetly encouraged for decades.

It’s worth reiterating that Trump has combined a vow to crush the dark hordes (to win over blue collar whites) with economic policies that are very much in sync with the elite corporate agenda (to mollify GOP-aligned elites, at least to the best extent possible).

* QUOTE OF THE DAY, TRUMP-WILL-MAKE-US-ALL-FILTHY-RICH EDITION: On Morning Joe today, GOP Rep. Pete Sessions offered this response to the question of how to quell the furor over police shootings:

“This is done not through America having a terrible unemployment problem. It’s done through having a vibrant, strong nation where people help each other. And I think Donald Trump will bring 10 million new jobs to America. And we desperately need GDP growth and jobs.”

So, unemployment has nothing to do with the problem, but Donald Trump will solve it by magically making us all obscenely rich again. Got it.

* BONUS QUOTE OF THE DAY, TRUMP-WILL-SMASH-CORRUPT-ELITES EDITION: Newt Gingrich explains Trump’s ongoing assault on the media:

“He has concluded that you guys in the media will kill him unless he destroys your credibility. Guaranteeing that the media is not believable is a significant building block of this campaign, as important as showing that Hillary Clinton is corrupt.”

Yes, it’s true: By accurately reporting on Trump’s quotes, views, and policy proposals, such as they are, the media very well may end up “killing” his candidacy.