A few hours after news of Tuesday’s deadly school shooting in Kentucky broke, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted that he had spoken with Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin and said that Canada’s “hearts go out” to all those affected by the tragedy.
Yet it took President Donald Trump nearly a day and a half before he publicly commented about the event. Trump tweeted on Wednesday that he’d spoken earlier in the day with Gov. Bevin:
Earlier today, I spoke with @GovMattBevin of Kentucky regarding yesterday’s shooting at Marshall County High School. My thoughts and prayers are with Bailey Holt, Preston Cope, their families, and all of the wounded victims who are in recovery. We are with you!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 24, 2018
Before that tweet, the only thing Americans had heard from their president in the wake of this tragedy was an assurance from the White House press secretary that Trump had been briefed on the situation.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with victims’ families,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters at the daily White House press briefing Tuesday afternoon. “And we offer our sincerest appreciation to the heroic Marshall County deputies who apprehended the shooter.”
All of which raises a troubling question: Why was the Canadian prime minister able to reach out directly to Kentucky’s governor and offer his public condolences a full day before the United States president was?
It turns out that Trump seems to have had other things on his mind that he evidently felt were more important to talk about on Twitter.
Here's what Trump has been tweeting about instead of talking about the school shooting
The Kentucky school shooting took place at Marshall County High School on Tuesday morning. At least two people were killed in the shooting, and 18 were injured. A 15-year-old male student was taken into custody by local law enforcement, but his identity is currently unknown to the public.
Late Tuesday night, many hours after news of the Kentucky school shooting, Trump mocked Schumer on Twitter for his “humiliating defeat” in the recent showdown between Democrats and Republicans over funding for the border wall and the status of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration policy that led to a brief government shutdown:
Cryin’ Chuck Schumer fully understands, especially after his humiliating defeat, that if there is no Wall, there is no DACA. We must have safety and security, together with a strong Military, for our great people!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 24, 2018
Trump also tweeted about the lost text messages of two FBI agents. The story of the missing texts between Lisa Page and Peter Strzok — who was formerly part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation — has gained steam over the past few days as conservative media outlets have used it to suggest a supposed plot to undermine Trump’s presidency.
Where are the 50,000 important text messages between FBI lovers Lisa Page and Peter Strzok? Blaming Samsung!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 24, 2018
And Wednesday morning, Trump praised investments being made by American companies and said that tax reform and "Massive Regulation Reduction" is making America a "powerhouse" once again.
Tremendous investment by companies from all over the world being made in America. There has never been anything like it. Now Disney, J.P. Morgan Chase and many others. Massive Regulation Reduction and Tax Cuts are making us a powerhouse again. Long way to go! Jobs, Jobs, Jobs!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 24, 2018
In the past, Trump has been criticized for his inconsistent reactions to violent events over social media.
For example, he was criticized by both the media and politicians for his failure to explicitly condemn white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, last August, while waiting mere hours after a November terror attack in New York City to tweet that the suspect — an Uzbek immigrant — was a “sick and deranged person.”
After the mass shooting in Las Vegas in October, Trump was quick to respond. At 4 am the day after the shooting, Trump gave his condolences to the victims and families of the shooting on Twitter:
My warmest condolences and sympathies to the victims and families of the terrible Las Vegas shooting. God bless you!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 2, 2017
Trudeau’s quick and direct response to Tuesday’s shooting shows a level of compassion and leadership toward the American people that took the US president over 24 hours to match.