Trump tweeted today about the violence in Chicago:
If Chicago doesn't fix the horrible "carnage" going on, 228 shootings in 2017 with 42 killings (up 24% from 2016), I will send in the Feds!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 25, 2017
Let’s ignore for the moment that the numbers he used were wrong. Leave aside for the moment the fact that Chicago’s homicide rate, while bad, is far from the worst in the country (Chicago ranks 18th in the nation among cities 250,000 or above). Set aside the fact that “violence in Chicago” is conservative code for “black liberal violence we can point to so people won’t pay attention to police killing unarmed black men.”
Let’s even set aside the childish notion that somehow Chicago has not been trying to fix the problem, or that all you have to do is “send in the feds,” and the problem gets solved.
No, let’s instead think for a moment about where this came from.
Was it the result of a great deal of study and deliberation? Not quite. Was it at least a half-assed plan that Trump chatted up with his staff for a half hour before making public announcements? Nope.
This came—literally—from Fox News. Specifically, Bill O’Reilly. O’Reilly broadcast a segment titled “Violence in Chicago continues to escalate” in which he cited the exact numbers Trump later used (the numbers were wrong, by the way), suggested Trump send in federal agents to deal with the problem, which he referred to as “carnage.”
Minutes later, Trump tweeted, If Chicago doesn’t fix the horrible “carnage” going on, 228 shootings in 2017 with 42 killings (up 24% from 2016), I will send in the Feds!
There was no time for meetings, or even more than the most fleeting considerations—certainly not enough time to do the barest of fact checks. Bill O’Reilly spurts it out on Fox News, and moments later the President of the United States announces that it’s policy.
The implications of this are staggering. The president is so impulsive, has so little patience and self-control, that without the barest flicker of thought, he sends the country caroming off in whatever direction the latest Fox News screed sent him off to.
If this does not frighten you to the core, then you’re not thinking. But then again, you’d be rather presidential in that regard.