Armed and dangerous.

Photographer: Gerardo Mora/Getty Images

Trump Is Not a Loose Cannon

Francis Wilkinson writes editorials on politics and U.S. domestic policy for Bloomberg View. He was executive editor of the Week. He was previously a national affairs writer for Rolling Stone, a communications consultant and a political media strategist.
Read More.
a | A

In the brief span since the nation awoke Sunday to news of the largest gun massacre in U.S. history, Donald Trump has tweeted that the killings are evidence of his own wisdom, and has called on President Barack Obama to resign for his failure to use the preferred Republican rhetoric -- "radical Islam" -- in describing the attack. Trump then went on news shows on Monday morning to insinuate that Obama is a fellow traveler of Islamic terrorists, essentially a mole inside the White House.

The presumptive Republican nominee moves from offense to offense so rapidly that a new shock eclipses the first before it can be mentally processed. Tweets and oral speech are Trump's natural media. Many Republicans are still seeking rationales to help them overlook the threat carried by these casual messages. They hope that Trump will somehow prove more responsible, and less toxic, if he has a political party or a White House staff or some other mediating institution to constrain his worst impulses.

But Trump's worst impulses are his truest. His campaign Sunday issued an official statement -- written and vetted -- on the Orlando attack. It confirms what his apologists are desperate to ignore: that Trump operates with malice aforethought.

Likewise, Trump's speech today on terrorism, delivered in New Hampshire, was written in advance and reprised some of the same themes.  

Sunday's statement is a valuable document -- only 338 words, but chock full of purpose. The document has three basic elements serving three goals.

The first is to establish that the deaths of 49 innocents in a land of 320 million is proof of an existential threat to the nation.

"If we do not get tough and smart real fast, we are not going to have a country anymore," it stated. This is what justifies any Trump policy. "We have no choice," he said in New Hampshire.

The second point is that we have been betrayed by our leaders. "Because our leaders are weak, I said this was going to happen -- and it is only going to get worse."

Trump, the superman among us, saw it coming. But as he said in New Hampshire, Obama is not merely ineffective. He is traitorous. He has "held back" U.S. intelligence agents, preventing them from protecting Americans. Clinton, meanwhile, wants to disarm Americans so that they are sitting ducks for terrorists. Clinton will bring radical immigrants into the nation who will destroy it from within. His statement reads:

Hillary Clinton wants to dramatically increase admissions from the Middle East, bringing in many hundreds of thousands during a first term – and we will have no way to screen them, pay for them, or prevent the second generation from radicalizing.

The betrayal has left us vulnerable to devastation. It has also humiliated us, causing the rest of the world to "laugh" at us.  

The Muslim minority in the U.S. will be allowed to function, Trump said today, if Muslims turn in the evil people among them. Because American Muslims know who the terrorists are; they're just protecting them.  

"Since 9/11, hundreds of migrants and their children have been implicated in terrorism in the United States," the statement claims. Obviously, something's going to have to be done about this group. "We can't afford to be politically correct anymore," Trump said.

These are not the thoughtless, off-the-cuff remarks of a blowhard. They are written and vetted by his staff. So if you want to know what Trump will do, don't go looking for expressions of responsibility or contrition or vague hints that he might prove willing to be constrained by democratic political norms. Trump has published his road map. It goes to a destination many will find familiar.

We are under existential threat. Our leaders have betrayed us. Everyone is laughing at us. With my superior wisdom and unbending will, I'll resolve the Islamic question and save the nation.

There is no ambiguity about this campaign.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

To contact the author of this story:
Francis Wilkinson at fwilkinson1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Katy Roberts at kroberts29@bloomberg.net