Thankfully, no one has been hurt so far, due in large measure to the vigilance of the Secret Service and other law enforcement agencies. But danger persists — to individuals, and to American democracy as well. Mr. Trump seemed to understand as much when he first responded to the attempted bombings Wednesday. He denounced the crime and pledged to spare no effort in bringing those responsible to justice. “In these times, we have to unify,” he said. “We have to come together and send one very clear, strong and unmistakable message that acts or threats of political violence of any kind have no place in the United States of America.”
Sadly, the president quickly showed himself incapable of heeding his own advice. At a rally later that night in Wisconsin, he criticized the news media and Democrats, while accepting no responsibility himself. Early Thursday morning, he blasted out a tweet that not only blamed the media for “the Anger we see today in our society” but had an implied threat, too. “Mainstream Media must clean up its act, FAST!”
The blame for these acts of terrorism lies with their perpetrator. Whoever is so deluded or deranged as to think that violence is an acceptable means to an end must be apprehended — hopefully quickly — and held to account. But Mr. Trump was right about the need to unify. Anger has become a constant backdrop to today’s politics. Incivility has infected our public discourse. Some people now think it justifiable or even virtuous to harass politicians and their families. And yes, the media — social and mainstream — at times contribute to the distemper.
But so does the president. He demonizes opponents and gives license to those who would punish them. As a candidate, he talked about wanting to “beat the crap” out of protesters, offered to pay legal fees of supporters who did so and suggested a Second Amendment solution in the event his opponent, Ms. Clinton, took office. Even worse is the example he sets as president — reveling in chants to lock up his political opponents, depicting the media as “enemy of the American people,” and heaping praise on a member of Congress for body-slamming a reporter.
By blaming everyone but himself, Mr. Trump shows his unwillingness — or inability — to recognize the totality of the problem. That makes him part of the problem.