The deep rot of bad faith

Greg Sargent at the Post on Trump’s nonsense about the Texas slaughter:

(I know, I’m harping on it, but Trump’s disgusting cynical frivolity about this cries out for obsessive finger-pointing.)

It has become an Internet meme that Donald Trump favors extreme vetting for arriving immigrants, but not for would-be gun buyers, and today in South Korea, Trump was confronted by a question about this contrast. It produced a useful answer — one that once again illustrated the deep rot of bad faith at the core of his approach to difficult policy questions.

You can see that bad faith when he closes his eyes. He’s taking a second to think up a way to sell the lies.

It’s being widely reported that the Air Force failed to follow the proper policies that would have barred Devin Patrick Kelley, who killed 26 people in a Texas church, from buying firearms. Kelley was discharged from the Air Force after a conviction for domestic violence — including cracking his toddler stepson’s skull — but this information, which could have stopped him from buying the guns he obtained, was not properly transmitted to the FBI or entered into the federal background check database. The Air Force has launched an internal investigation.

So this morning the reporter asked her question and Trump blatted out his lies.

“If you did what you’re suggesting, there would have been no difference three days ago. And you might not have had that very brave person who happened to have a gun or a rifle in his truck go out and shoot him and hit him and neutralize him. If he didn’t have a gun, instead of having 26 dead, you would have had hundreds more dead.”

The claim that there would have been “no difference” if Kelley had undergone “extreme vetting” is another way of saying that an improved gun background check system would not have stopped this shooting. But Trump has no earthly way of knowing this one way or the other.

But he’s too thick to understand that he can’t know it, and too callous and frivolous to care.

Trump told us that his thinly veiled Muslim ban was necessary so that we could review our vetting procedures and see where they need to be improved. Applying his own logic to the gun debate should lead to a similar place: If our current system of background checks is inadequate, we should review it to see whether it needs to be improved, too.

Trump, of course, does not believe that the gun background check system should be improved. He is entitled to that view. But the notion that this shooting shows that improving the system wouldn’t make any difference is utter nonsense. What it really shows is that Trump views the flaws he sees in our system of vetting new arrivals as a threat worth addressing, but does not view the flaws in our gun background check system as a threat worth addressing.

My point is not that the Texas shooting itself makes the case for any particular set of background check improvements. It doesn’t, and again, seizing on isolated events isn’t how we should be debating policy. The Air Force’s review of its mistakes here is an appropriate response to this particular horror. Rather, my point is this: Either you believe, in a broad sense, that we should be trying to improve our background check system to make it harder for prohibited people to get guns, or you do not. Trump’s silly misdirection tells us that he does not believe this — and that he probably hasn’t thought seriously about the question for even a second.

Exactly, which is what I mean by callous and frivolous. He’s too frivolous to do the work and too callous to care that he’s not doing it. He’s fine with his own lazy ignorance and brutality.

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