Sorry, Democrats, but Trump Didn't Cause the Tragedies in El Paso and Dayton | Opinion

President Donald Trump must feel himself a lonely man. In the aftermath of the mass killings in Texas and Ohio, his congressional colleagues have largely gone to ground, afraid responsibility for the carnage will somehow attach to them. The Democrats, meanwhile, have gone at him full force, implying he might as well have put the gun in the El Paso killer's hand.

This is unfair and untrue but strangely echoes former President Bill Clinton's attempt in the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing to place the blame for it on conservative talk radio and others whose anti-Clinton rhetoric helped drive the 1994 GOP takeover of the U.S. Congress.

Instead of cowering in the Rose Garden, as previous presidents contemplating re-election have done in times of crisis, Trump has risen to the occasion. His remarks Monday were a powerful denunciation of the societal changes that have made these kinds of events a regular, if still infrequent, part of life in America.

"The shooter in El Paso posted a manifesto online consumed by racist hate," Trump said. "In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy. These sinister ideologies must be defeated. Hate has no place in America. Hatred warps the mind, ravages the heart and devours the soul."

In these few words, he did what political liberals and punditcrats have demanded of him for some time: He denounced racism, white supremacy, bigotry and the climate they produce. Their response, typically, was it was not enough and too little, too late.

A single but momentary bright spot was a front-page New York Times piece headlined "Trump Urges Unity vs. Racism," which lasted until a battering from left-wing liberals over its being insufficiently anti-Trump and outside the approved narrative caused it to be changed.

Make no mistake, Trump's opponents are out for blood and won't stop until they get it. The reaction to the killings in El Paso is the latest in a line of attacks and distortions leading from Hillary Clinton's unexpected defeat straight through the entirety of the Trump presidency.

Proof of that, if that's what it can be called, is the way events in Dayton are being downplayed—perhaps because the alleged shooter there was a registered Democrat who voiced in his social media accounts (before they were defeated) support for the green agenda and the presidential candidacy of Elizabeth Warren. It's not that anyone's covering for Warren, even though her fundraising off these twin tragedies is rather tasteless; it's that a left-wing mass murder doesn't conveniently fit into the narrative that the Trump presidency has inaugurated a new era of hate in America.

Among sensible people, it's all hard to stomach. Trump's rhetoric is at times inflammatory and cuts clearly through issues in the way only a native New Yorker can. The possibility exists, however, that his impetus may not be racism but something else. Perhaps it's simply a natural reaction of an American sick and tired of recent immigrants to the United States or first- and second-generation descendants of people who came here seeking a better life ungratefully complaining about how awful the nation that took them in turned out to be without acknowledging what they left behind.

The negativity directed at Trump is extreme in a way unseen in decades. It's gotten so bad that if Trump decided to give free chocolate ice cream cones away to every person who visited the White House on tour, he'd be met with an angry attack over his refusal to make accommodations for those who prefer vanilla and neglecting of the needs of the lactose intolerant.

Trump Shootings Remarks
President Donald Trump, followed by Vice President Mike Pence, approaches the podium to deliver remarks in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House on August 5 in Washington, D.C. Trump addressed the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. Alex Wong/Getty

This madness might be amusing were it not for the way public attitudes are being shaped by inaccurate reporting. The United States is not, for example, the world leader in mass shooters—as The New York Times and other news outlets have falsely reported based on a study that the Crime Prevention Research Center has shown to be badly flawed. Likewise, the repetition of the phrase "mass shootings" instead of "mass murder" keeps the focus on gun control and the Democrats rather than the sickness inside the two alleged killers.

The president is facing the headwinds admirably, if mostly alone. That's one of the drawbacks of the office: When the going gets tough, folks, you've counted on get going. Nevertheless, the proposals he's laid on the table, particularly the need to determine why no one in a position to do anything about it has noticed the aberrant behavior of those who committed atrocities, going as far back as what happened in Columbine, Colorado. Can it be that we are afraid, to paraphrase Shakespeare, that the fault lies not in the stars but in ourselves?

Newsweek contributing editor Peter Roff has written extensively about politics and the American experience for U.S. News and World Report, United Press International and other publications. He can be reached by email at Follow him on Twitter @PeterRoff.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.