Ten Observations On The Trump Assassination Attempt

Huey Long assassination

Perhaps you missed it? Someone tried to shoot Donald Trump. From the Associated Press:

“A British man arrested at a weekend Donald Trump rally in Las Vegas tried to grab a police officer’s gun so he could kill the presidential candidate after planning an assassination for about a year, according to authorities. U.S. Secret Service agents said Michael Steven Sandford approached a Las Vegas police officer at the campaign stop to say he wanted Trump’s autograph, but that he then tried to take the weapon.”


1. Wow. Talk about being incompetent at your chosen avocation! This guy has been “planning an assassination for about a year” and the big plan was “try to get a police officer’s gun”?

Assassins, like everything else, just aren’t what they used to be.

2. Remember, however, that the only difference between a failed assassination attempt and a successful one is moral luck.

3. The Washington Post asks why the incident didn’t provoke more news coverage. Isn’t that a strange question to come from one of the news organizations responsible for the lack of coverage? Why doesn’t Callum Borchers just ask his own editors at the Post?

The answer seems clear to me: the news media doesn’t want any public sympathy going Trump’s way, or to give him what would amount to positive publicity. This is the double standard we are being told that we need to get used to. Does anyone want to make the case that an assassination attempt on Hillary’s life would be a multi-day story, with a repeat of the U.S. Representative Rep. Gabrielle Giffords shooting mass accusation, now holding  that Republican “hate speech” and anti-Hillary rhetoric nearly resulted in a tragedy?  Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin were being fingered as the reason why a deranged man went on a killing spree in Tucson. Why not blame a Trump assassination attempt on Paul Krugman or Elizabeth Warren? Or me?

4.  The Post article justifies the non-coverage by noting that Trump hasn’t mentioned the incident. Three guesses why that is. (The first two don’t count.)

5. Some conservative pundits, like Instapundit’s Glenn Reynolds, are suggesting that the media hate toward Trump sparked the attempt. Considering how vehemently they condemned the same accusation when it was leveled at them in the Giffords shooting, this is classic hypocrisy.

6. Should the news media and punditry cool its attacks on Trump to avoid seeding anti-Trump hysteria? No, of course not.

A dangerous, unqualified, unstable and unfit scam artist is dangerously close to becoming President following a  failed Presidency that will leave the nation with an unstable economy, an unaddressed terrorist threat, a crumbling educational system, an government-led erosion of civil rights, hyper=partisanship, dysfunctional journalism, a horrific international situation, unprotected borders and the most divided society since the Civil War, with a public that no longer trusts its democratic institution or those who lead them. What could go wrong? The news media needs to be truthful and direct, and being truthful and direct means scaring the hell out of the public about the prospect of a Donald Trump in the White House.

7. However, they news media is also obligated to scare the hell out of people about the prospect of President Hillary Clinton too….truthfully, of course. I doubt that it is capable or inclined to do that.

8. The future of the United States would look much brighter if Donald Trump would just disappear, like the unwanted and unloved little boy  in the DirecTV commercial. (And that kid was just defacing a wall, while Trump is defacing an entire culture.) Of course, as civilized, law-abiding, ethical people, we do not advocate violent, illegal solutions to problems, even existential ones.

There are still ways to stop Trump and send him back to reality TV and running fake universities, if the Republican Party would get smart and responsible, and do its duty. See, I got through that sentence without giggling.

9. Is assassination ever ethically defensible as a last resort? I don’t think anyone who watched Tom Cruise as failed Hitler assassin  Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg in the film “Valkyrie” thought he was the villain.

In another thread, I expressed satisfaction that Huey Long, the most dangerous populist con man U.S. history has ever produced, was stopped as he bid to become a national leader and probable dictator. He was shot. One can ethically deplore the means of a dangerous individual’s demise while being glad that he’s dead. It’s a difficult moral tight-rope to walk though.

10. Would I have been sorry if Donald Trump had been assassinated? 




17 thoughts on “Ten Observations On The Trump Assassination Attempt

  1. Not that I am advocating assassination, but in regard to Huey Long I am reminded of this quote:
    “I have never killed any one, but I have read some obituary notices with great satisfaction.” – Clarence Darrow

  2. “10. Would I have been sorry if Donald Trump had been assassinated? No.”

    I think that a person has to retain some hope and allow for the possibility that people (including him or herself) will change and improve.

  3. I think number 10 is a little harsh. I don’t like Trump, I won’t vote for him. But to not be sorry if he was to be murdered, I can’t go there.

      • OK, that clarification makes me feel better. I was having some serious problems with that statement and was trying to think of what to write, but this takes care of it.

      • I don’t know Jack, I think you messed this one up. You usually take the high road and that’s what I like about you. But in your original statement here you didn’t.

        • He’s a threat to the culture, the ideals of the nation and the United States. I assume there are good, legal and fair ways to save the country from him. I don’t advocate assassination or illegal solutions to threats. I care about my nation, my community, and the importance of a vital and focused America. What he has done is to treat the Presidency like a PR stunt and a lark, putting his own amusement and promotion above the human lives his stunt will adversely affect. Murderers do less damage than Trump has done, and will do. There are, as I have written many times, exceptions to all ethical principles, in unique circumstances. The best thing that could happen to the country going forward is for Trump to be eliminated as a threat to the nation. It’s ridiculous and hypocritical to argue that because of the method whereby he is removed, I would regret the result, which is a benefit to everyone alive. I do not want him to be assassinated or harmed. But if Trump’s candidacy were ended, I would not be sorry, no matter what was the reason.

          That IS the high road.

          • 10. Would I have been sorry if Donald Trump had been assassinated?

            That’s what you said, you’re using the same twisting of words we get from political candidates. Sorry, but you lost me on this one. You’re a bit too extreme for my tastes. I won’t vote for Trump or Clinton, but you are trying to rationalize a distasteful comment.

            • If you don’t want to pay attention to what I write because your mind is closed, go ahead. I stand by those words. If I learned Trump was out of the way, dead, missing, taken to Mars—I don’t care how , it is a good thing for everyone but Trump. The post was about an assassination attempt, thus the narrow statement about assassination. You’re applying absolutist standards in the worst and most inept way imaginable. There’s nothing extreme about not regretting the demise of a person who will do a great deal of harm. What’s extreme is the silly proposition that every life no matter how dangerous should be mourned.

              And distasteful is just the “ick factor,” not ethics. Sometimes truth is unpleasant. That doesn’t make it wrong, and neither is this. I’ve got news for you: either Trump or Clinton us going to be the President. Ducking tough and distasteful choices isn’t ethical, it’s just cowardly and irresponsible.

  4. I said a while back that this election was going to make people do things they wouldn’t normally do and was going to be the kind of election that breaks friendships and causes enemies to fight. The mention of the assassination of ANY candidate is something that no one should do lightly. I think it’s in a separate category from internet bluster where folks who don’t know each other and don’t know where to find each other threaten each other, especially now in light of the fact that some idiot actually tried to go through with it.

    #9 is dangerously close to the line. No, no one thinks that Count Stauffenberg was wrong to try to take Hitler out, that’s a VERY easy call…in retrospect. I also don’t think anyone thinks Stalin’s lieutenants didn’t do the world a favor by withholding medical treatment JUST long enough to guarantee he would go toes up, or that the Praetorian Guard didn’t do the right thing by Rome and the world by turning Caligula into a human knife block, or that the two of the “Three Pashas” who got bullets to the head for their roles in the Armenian Genocide deserved it…again in retrospect. These are the “low-hanging fruits” when it comes to the question of the extrajudicial selective taking of life as a tool to effect political change.

    However, history is replete with many more examples of assassinations that are not such easy moral questions: the assassination of both the king and crown prince of Portugal in one day in 1908, which created a republic but turned life in that nation upside down and ruined or took many lives; the IRA’s reign of terror from 1916 to 1922 which ended with the assassination of Michael Collins, which we’re still feeling the repercussions of now, and the string of Mexican presidential assassinations pre-WWI that made you wonder why anyone there would want the job and made getting down to the business of governing impossible. It’s also replete with examples of assassinations gone VERY wrong, as justified as the assassin might have felt: Julius Caesar, with whom died any chance for a restoration of the Roman Republic, Abraham Lincoln, whose assassination would probably had even greater consequences for this nation if the radical Republicans hadn’t overreached by attacking his successor, Franz Ferdinand, whose murder was the match that lit the fuse that set off the historical bomb that was WWI, and (in a side note to give a peaceful martyr) Jean Jaures, French politician who was murdered by a nationalist for trying to STOP the sparks from that explosion from igniting all of Europe.

    Trump may be a lot of things. He may be a loudmouth. He may be a bully. He may be a political amateur. He may even be a populist fraud a la the now-deceased Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. What he isn’t is a mass murderer (like the Pashas) or a racial supremacist (like Hitler) or someone completely motivated by cruel whims (like Caligula, who was arguably also mentally ill). He is not at the point where a political assassination, with all the damage it would do to American society, can be justified, or should even be talked about. America is at a crossroads, and the two political parties need to take a good long look at themselves, ask what the hell they were thinking this time out, and go back to nominating statesmen, if they can find them, but they don’t need to turn this nation into Colombia or pre-1914 Mexico.

    BTW, the last person whose death it was morally all right to rejoice at was probably bin Laden. I admit I did, and even told the joke about the bin Laden cocktail (two shots and a splash). However, some of my more peaceful or Biblically-inclined friends reminded me that hey, bin Laden was human too, and making the deliberate killing of any human into a punch line isn’t right. I scoffed at the time, and said bin Laden was the exception to that rule. Do you really believe Trump is so bad he is an exception? For that matter, was Huey Long, populist fraud though he was, an exception?

    • There’s a difference in not being sad someone is no longer and celebrating his death. I couldn’t rejoice that bin Laden was dead, because it’s not in my nature. But I wasn’t sorry or truly saddened by it, either. I don’t really think Jack’s liable to turn cartwheels, but there would certainly be no kleenex request.

  5. Jack,

    “Sandford had arrived in Las Vegas last Friday, when he went to a local shooting range and reportedly learned how to use a gun for the first time. The Trump rally at the Treasure Island Casino was held the following day.”

    It does make one wonder what he spent “almost a year” planning for if basic gun use and possession were last on his list.

    Some years back, I was robbed at gunpoint and I remember thinking the gun looked suspect and likewise the guy held it as though his only formal training was watching old b-movies. That said, I also remember thinking “If he’s willing to potentially wager his life and freedom on a hoax, who’s to say what he’ll do if I try and test my theory.” The means are just that, a way of getting somewhere. If you’re hell bent enough on a certain end, the way you achieve it, by definition, takes a back seat.

    Also, not that they’re related, but this is what concerns me the most in the ongoing gun debate: even if you could vanish all the world’s munitions, what’s to stop us from going back to stones?

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