Today's News / Donald Trump’s ‘I hear you’ cue card at gun violence meeting fuels perception he is ‘insensitive’« Last post by News Bot on Today at 08:00:02 PM »
Is U.S. President Donald Trump really such an insensitive narcissist he needed a cue card to remind him to show compassion during his meeting with survivors of last week’s Florida school shooting?
Some of the online storm that’s followed photos captured of the president’s crib sheet would suggest so. The five-points note, on White House stationary, ended with No. 5, “I hear you.”
On Twitter many suggested it was “galling” Trump apparently needed speaking notes to act like a human being. “Oh dear God. Trump has to be reminded to say ‘I hear you.’ Look at his notes, who wrote them?, one woman tweeted. “The president has to be reminded to show empathy in a listening session on gun violence. Let that sink in,” read another.
Others wondered why on earth people are fussing over a single note card.
Communication experts and other commentators said it’s normal, even customary, for presidents or any elected official to carry speaking points from staff about how to proceed during such emotionally charged meetings — especially outside the sandbox the president usually plays in, and where anything off script is said under the glare of a vigilant media.
“I agree with the gist of several of the comments on the Twitter feed that suggest that a person should be entitled to put on their notes whatever idiotic prompts they need in order to remind them to stay on point, or to make some essential remarks they don’t want to forget under the stress of the meeting,” said Nick Morgan, an American communication theorist and author.
That said, it’s different when you’re president of the United States, “and of course those notes weren’t prepared by him, they were prepared by staff,” Morgan said. “The reason they’re interesting is that they show the staff thinking as to what he needed to be reminded about.”
According to the Washington Post, Trump never actually uttered the words, “I hear you,” and, by all accounts, he listened intently as he faced grieving students and families at the 70-minute “listening session” on gun violence at the White House on Wednesday.
Trumped needed to show sensitivity, and his staff was right to worry, Morgan said. But Trump was also entitled to ignore them. “He might have thought, ‘I know this stuff already. Why are you giving me this?'”
However, the “I hear you” cue is feeding the narrative that the president isn’t a particularly sensitive human being, that he’s “more concerned with himself than with others and needs to be reminded to show sensitivity,” Morgan said.
Either way, “Trump should be very afraid — and his staff should be very afraid — that people are responding the way they are because it suggests there is a pretty deep belief in the underlying narrative that President Trump is insensitive and uncaring,” Morgan said.
When such beliefs get lodged in the public’s consciousness, “they tend to stay there,” he added.
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Jennifer Mercieca, a historian of American political rhetoric, said the “I hear you” prompt reflects Trumps “heretofore failure” to enact the priestly role of the presidency.
“The president is supposed to provide not just moral leadership for the nation — during moments of crisis, the president is supposed to play a sort of fatherly role, to make us feel safe and help us understand a crisis in such a way that we can move forward as a nation,” said Mercieca, an associate professor at Texas A&M University.
Trump hasn’t been particularly good at that. “He tends towards division,” she said, perhaps most famously with his response to the violence last year in Charlottesville, where a driver rammed into a crowd of counter-protesters at a white supremacist rally, killing one woman and injuring 19 others. Democrats and many Republicans denounced Trump for later saying “many sides” were to blame for the death of Heather Heyer and for not calling out white supremacists and other hate groups.
Trump has been similarly attacked in the wake of the Florida shooting, which left 17 students and staff dead. The president has been accused of defending his base and representing the interests of the National Rifle Association.
U.S. President Donald Trump watches as Julia Cordover, Parkland student body president, speaks during a listening session on gun violence in the White House on Feb. 21, 2018.
The Florida shooting “was a crisis for him,” Mercieca said. “The students from Florida have the moral resonance with the nation at this moment — people are listening to them and they want something to be done about guns.
“I think Trump had no choice but to sit and listen. And I’m actually sort of impressed his staff was able to get him to do it.”
During his run for presidency, he shunned the face-to-face “retail politics” of coffee klatches and pizza dinners and handshaking during campaigning in the early primary states of New Hampshire and Iowa.
“Trump said, ‘not gonna do it, don’t need to. I’m famous. I’m rich. I’m going to support my campaign. Instead, I’m going to throw a party. I’m going to have these rallies’ …. He had a whole way of running for office that particularly excluded these kinds of listening sessions,” Mercieca said.
The stealth photos of the president’s speaking notes — prepared by staff — speak to a “typical unfair, gotcha moment for a president,” Morgan said.
“These kinds of things happen to presidents all the time. They get credit for things they don’t deserve, and they get blamed for things they don’t deserve.”
In the end, Trump didn’t appear to directly use any of the questions or phrases on the card, according to The Guardian.
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