Opinion writer

The president called the city Toledo.

The city where, in the wee hours of Sunday morning, a shooter with an assault-style rifle gunned down nine people before getting killed by police. Nine people, who seconds earlier were spending a Saturday night with friends and loved ones in Dayton, Ohio’s entertainment district, celebrating the end of one week and the beginning of a new one.

Yes, Dayton, Mr. President. Not Toledo.

Trump spoke Monday morning to address a nation traumatized by two mass shootings over the weekend. First, there was the horror in El Paso where a alleged white supremacist opened fire at a Walmart and killed 22. The victims included Jordan Anchondo, who died shielding her two-month old baby. Her husband Andre died too.

And then, hours later, came the mass murder in Dayton. “We are sickened by this monstrous evil,” said the president on Monday. We need, he said, to “find the courage to answer hatred with unity, devotion and love.”

Nice sentiments. Too bad Trump said them in a flat voice, like he was recording a hostage video. And then, on the final reference, he referred to the city where the second shooting occurred as Toledo. Nothing shows how much you care more than misstating the name of the city where nine people died in a mass shooting, especially after you read it right from the teleprompter only minutes earlier.

Trump is literally the last person who can bring comfort to the grieving, never mind solve the problem of gun violence in the United States. Our president is a failure as both a human being and a leader. We’ve seen it demonstrated time and time again.

Trump has spent the better part of a decade inciting anger and hate. He’s our bully in chief. He went from pushing racist birther theories about President Barack Obama to calling Mexican and other Hispanic immigrants “rapists” and “animals” and “thugs.” He referred to migration to the United States as an “infestation” and “invasion.”

At a rally in the Florida Panhandle in May, Trump asked the crowd, “How do you stop these people?” A man in the crowd answered, “Shoot them.” Trump didn’t miss a beat. “Only in the Panhandle can you get away with that statement.” The crowd cheered widely.


President Trump arrives to deliver remarks Monday about the shootings in El Paso and Dayton. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

This is hardly the behavior of a man concerned about the impact of his words. It’s certainly not the behavior of someone who should be taken seriously when he says “In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy” and “Hate has no place in America.”

If Trump was truly concerned about the violence his rhetoric unleashed, he would apologize, and then try to do what he could to make sure stuff like this doesn’t happen again. He would, for instance, call for expanded gun control. But no. The rest of the speech was the same warmed-over pablum we always hear from the right after a mass shooting. Trump was slightly more animated as he pushed the canard that mass shootings could be solved by doing “a better job of identifying and acting on early warning signs” and discussed “grisly video games” and called for a reform of “mental health laws to better identify mentally disturbed individuals who may commit acts of violence.”

Please. There are mentally ill individuals who play violent video games in other countries too — people who spend too much time on the Internet imbibing violent rhetoric. There is only one country where this stuff is potentially implicated in mass shootings. The reason for this is because our nation lacks effective gun control, and the man in charge inflames the situation with dehumanizing language. That is Donald Trump, who can’t even be bothered to remember what city a mass murder occurred in. There are no words he can say to make this go away. He owns it.

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