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Opinion Distinguished pol of the week: What leadership looks like

Dayton, Ohio, Mayor Nan Whaley speaks to the media on Tuesday after the mass shooting that occurred there Aug. 4. (John Minchillo/AP)

There were quite a few distinguished pols last week who, in the absence of a functional president of the United States, went above and beyond to exert moral leadership. In that category I’d put Beto O’Rourke, Joe Biden (whose Iowa speech was his best to date) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) (whose speech from Charleston, S.C., was both sobering and uplifting). However, there was one politician who seemed to be everywhere, managing President Trump, pushing her Republican governor to “do something!” and comforting her distraught city.

The New York Times recounted:

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"First, the Ku Klux Klan came to town. Two days later, tornadoes destroyed hundreds of homes and businesses and obliterated entire neighborhoods in and around the western Ohio city of Dayton.

“Then this past weekend, a gunman stormed onto a crowded sidewalk in the entertainment district — an area of town typically swarming with revelers who stay until the bars close in the early morning — and fired at least 41 shots into the crowd, killing nine people before he was shot dead by the authorities.”

But the city was also blessed with Mayor Nan Whaley. She has worked closely with Gov. Mike DeWine (R). (“They have effusively complimented each other at news conferences and tried to put on a bipartisan front for gun control proposals.”) She hit the president for his role in fanning hate, greeted him politely, told him that real gun-safety legislation was needed and gave him the back of her hand when he falsely said that she had mischaracterized his hospital visit. She also slyly dinged him for referring to Toledo, not Dayton, in his teleprompter speech from the White House on Monday.

She struck just the right tone — calm, commanding, empathetic and determined. Perhaps her counterpart from South Bend, Ind., Pete Buttigieg, is right when he says mayors are well suited to lead, because there is no one else to blame when things go wrong. The mayor has to fix things, to be there, to lead in the midst of tragedies, disasters and controversies. For doing all that, we can say, well done, Mayor Whaley. And God bless you, and the people of Dayton.