The Syrian children are just as dead in the video showing a Sarin attack in 2013 as the Syrian children from the video showing the Sarin attack that prompted President Trump to take military action on Thursday.
“I saw it on television,” Trump said of the more recent video.
The exterminated kids from four years ago were also on TV. The horrific scenes from then and now are so similar that you have to check the dates to distinguish one from the other.
But the dead kids of 2013 prompted not even a shrug from Trump.
For Trump to have expressed outrage back then would have meant supporting President Obama.
And the one sure way that Trump had to get attention four years ago was to tap into the blind and reflexive opposition to all things Obama, be it by promoting birtherism or opposing retaliation against Syria for gassing youngsters.
“The President must get Congressional approval before attacking Syria -big mistake if he does not!” Trump tweeted in 2013.
Obama did move to secure congressional approval, arranging for intelligence officials to screen a total of 19 videos in the Capitol, only for House Republicans to refuse to allow the matter to even reach a vote. All the videos were subsequently aired on cable news, for Trump and other TV addicts to see.
Trump became only shriller in his opposition to action.
“AGAIN, TO OUR VERY FOOLISH LEADER, DO NOT ATTACK SYRIA—IF YOU DO MANY VERY BAD THINGS WILL HAPPEN & FROM THAT FIGHT THE U.S. GETS NOTHING!” Trump tweeted.
He followed that tweet with, “President Obama, do not attack Syria. There is no upside and tremendous downside. Save your ‘powder’ for another (and more important) day”.
That more important day came on Thursday. And it was not more important because the latest footage of the dead kids was any more horrible than the footage from 2013. It was because the president was no longer Obama but Trump.
That and because gassed kids who appear on cable news these days are appearing on what has essentially become Trump’s new reality show.
During the campaign, cable news was so filled with Trump, Trump, Trump that he would have been right to consider it his own program.
Trump went from starring in the Apprentice to starring in the Candidate, airing around the clock on all the news channels simultaneously.
Then came a season finale that surprised even the star himself. The Candidate became The President.
And, whenever the show threatened to cease being largely about Trump, he simply needed to go on Twitter.
One intelligence official has described to this reporter our new president tweeting and then timing just how long it takes for his message to appear as breaking news on cable TV. Trump remained his own most devoted fan.
Gassed Syrian kids were now HIS gassed Syrian kids.
And the star of The President could not just shrug as he had four years before.
What kind of episode would that be?
Do not forget Trump’s approval ratings have been slumping faster than the TV ratings for Celebrity Apprentice with Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Trump’s first impulse when these new videos were aired was to revert to bashing Obama for not taking action. Never mind that Obama was blocked by the Republicans. Never mind that Obama did manage to demonstrate the true Art of the Deal by enlisting the Russians in pressuring Bashar al-Assad to agree to give up his chemical weapons. There was at least an agreement for Assad to violate.
But if Obama bashing worked for The Candidate almost as well as Hillary trashing and immigrant slamming and Muslim banning, it was not enough for The President.
The star of The President had to do something presidential, especially when he was about to fly off to Mar-a-Lago for an historic meeting with the head of China.
In the reality that is his all-channel reality show, Trump declared himself to be horrified, just horrified by the gassing of kids in Syria.
And, he knew just what to do for a real ratings boost, something better than any Tweet.
Videos made of the retaliatory launching of more than 50 U.S. Navy cruise missiles served as a viewer-friendly answer to the most recent videos of gassed kids. Brian Williams was inspired to once again disgrace himself, this time by repeatedly calling the launchings “beautiful.”
The attack on the Syrian air base that is said to have launched the Sarin attack had an added advantage amidst the continuing investigation of Russian efforts to help The Candidate become The President.
“Syria Strike Puts U.S. and Russia at Odds,” read the headline in the New York Times.
The subhead read, “Putin Calls Attack ‘Significant Blow’ to Relationship.”
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