TRUMPadelphia: What it means to be president

US NEWS LASVEGAS-SHOOTING 17 ABA
President Trump makes a statement on the mass shooting at an outdoor concert in Las Vegas in the diplomatic room of the White House.

Hello, friends. Your usual guide through the jungles of Trumpland, my colleague Aubrey Whelan, is in Las Vegas reporting the aftermath of one of the most deadly mass shootings in U.S. history. She jumped off the plane Monday evening, catching up with a Bucks County couple who had a window on the killing field. The horror touched Philly and Pennsylvania.

This newsletter covers President Trump and how he affects greater Philadelphia. You can sign up here to get it in your inbox, for free, every week. Send suggestions/complaints/questions my way by email or on Twitter, and if you like this newsletter, please forward it to a friend.

– Thomas Fitzgerald


Today, let’s talk about presidenting.

President Trump addressing the nation about the Las Vegas violence from the White House. (J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press)

It is a measure of how far he’s lowered the bar that President Trump was hailed for a “pitch perfect” response to the Las Vegas massacre on Monday, when he managed to follow the basic script of past presidents: a quote from Scripture, praise for first responders, a plea for national unity.

“I know we are searching for meaning in chaos, some kind of light in the darkness,” Trump said. “The answers don’t come easy.”

What he didn’t do: Jump to conclusions, or rail against Islamic terrorism while speaking/tweeting in bellicose terms to convey his toughness. During the campaign last year, Trump once even congratulated himself for “being right” in guessing that the Orlando Pulse nightclub mass shooter Omar Mateen would turn out to have been inspired by ISIS. Of course, a 64-year-old white guy who is a professional gambler doesn’t fit the usual profile POTUS reaches for in these cases.

The local angle

Trump’s calm tones followed a weekend-long tweet storm about the “politically motivated ingrates” in Puerto Rico who did not express proper thanks for the “great job” the administration has been doing to help the island recover from the devastation of Hurricane Maria. The president was holed up at his luxury New Jersey golf club at the time. He reserved special contempt for San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz, who on Friday accused the administration “killing us with the inefficiency” after the storm. She begged the president to “make sure somebody is in charge that is up to the task of saving lives,” and appealed for help “to save us from dying.”

The plight of Puerto Rico, home to 3.5 million U.S. citizens, has resonated deeply in the Philadelphia area, with nearly 160,000 boricuas living in Philadelphia and Camden, N.J. alone. Much of the island has no electric power or clean drinking water , and food is scarce, two weeks after the storm hit with winds in excess of 150 m.p.h.

What’s ahead

President Trump landed in Puerto Rico a short while ago, on a trip to survey the damage for himself. Before he left, he defended the job his government is doing there. And after he visits the Caribbean commonwealth, Trump is scheduled to travel to Las Vegas to meet with families of those killed in the shooting and survivors.


What they’re saying

Camera icon Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times
San Juan mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz.

“The mayor of San Juan, who was very complimentary only a few days ago, has now been told by the Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump.” – President Trump, on Twitter, ripping Carmen Yulin Cruz.

“What is your death count as of this morning, 17?” President Trump, to Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello as he visited the island Tuesday, adding that the governor should be “proud” it wasn’t as bad as Katrina.


In other news…


What I’m reading

  • Buzzfeed rounds up all the fake news spreading in the wake of the Las Vegas shooting.The Atlantic unloads on Google and Facebook for allowing it to spread, mostly unchecked, in the hours after the shooting: “These companies are the most powerful information gatekeepers that the world has ever known, and yet they refuse to take responsibility for their active role in damaging the quality of information reaching the public.”
  • Speaking of fake news: The New York Times Magazine, on how exaggerated reports of a juvenile sex crime involving Syrian refugees upended an Idaho town during the 2016 election.
  • The U.S. Supreme Court is taking up a case in which it could decide just how much partisan gerrymandering in legislative districts is too much. The case is being closely watched in Pennsylvania, which has by some measures the most gerrymandered congressional districts of all.

Tiffany Wright with her husband Michael and son Noel. (Family photo, via Washington Post)

A non-political palate cleanser

This is a purely uplifting story, of how Tiffany Wright, a woman from Washington, D.C. whose father was shot on his doorstep during the crack epidemic became a Supreme Court clerk, pretty much the equivalent, for lawyers, of being drafted into the NBA.