Henderson: Trump Needs To Shut Up

What We Need From A Leader Is Quiet Compassion

There are plenty of times I wish Donald Trump would just shut the hell up. This is one of them.

Has he no shame? I think we already know the answer to that, and if he were anyone besides the Republican presumptive nominee for president we could immediately dismiss him as a Twitter troll who uses 140 characters to demean and debase from the safety of his mother’s garage.

Alas, we have to pay attention.

Trump predictably was at his bullying worst in the hours after Sunday’s mass murder in Orlando. He couldn’t bring himself to just offer sympathy for the victims, could he? Nope. He couldn’t let a horrified city catch its breath and wobble back to its feet.


It had to be the blame game. If someone’s Twitter posts are a look into their souls, here’s the view.

In a statement Trump put out through his campaign: “If Hillary Clinton, after this attack, still cannot say the two words ‘Radical Islam’ she should get out of this race for the Presidency.”

Last week was the 62nd anniversary of one of the great oratorical moments in American history. On June 9, 1954, Joseph Nye Welch, chief counsel of the U.S. Army, was being grilled mercilessly by U.S. Sen. Joseph McCarthy before the U.S. Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.

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McCarthy was trying to draw a link between communism and one of the junior attorneys in Welch’s office. McCarthy repeatedly interrupted as Welch tried to answer his questions, badgering him in a blindly zealous attempt to draw a tenuous conclusion that the attorney, and therefore Welch, and by extension the Army, were communist sympathizers.

Exasperated, Welch finally told McCarthy, “Let us not assassinate this lad further, Senator. You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir?”

I think we can ask the same thing now of Donald J. Trump.

He should at least have had the sense of decency to wait until we knew how many had died before turning it into a bash session on Obama/Hillary.


Listen, folks, Trump could no more have stopped what happened in Orlando than anyone else. The shooter, Omar Mateen, was a U.S. citizen. Yes, he was a follower of radical Islam. He was on the FBI’s radar, but there is no evidence he involved anyone else in his murderous plot.

What Trump appears to advocate is using that radar as a weapon. Anyone can look suspicious. Would a President Trump make it national policy to round-up of anyone suspected of having nefarious thoughts?

If so, you know what’s next. Your grumpy next-door neighbor will authorities you’re a terrorist when the real problem is he doesn’t like the way you trim your hedges, and you will have to prove you are not.

Days like Sunday call for respect, restraint and judgment – not brazen power grabs and incendiary rhetoric. A leader knows when to charge ahead, and when to shut up and wrap his or her arms around a city in pain. Sunday called for decency, but Donald Trump can’t give what he doesn’t have.


After nearly 42 years as both a sports and news columnist, along with a variety of other roles, at the Tampa Tribune, Joe Henderson brings his slant on politics and sports to NewsTalkFlorida.com and SportsTalkFlorida.com. Originally from the small town of Lebanon, Ohio, Joe resides outside of Tampa with Elaine, his wife of more than 35 years. Their two grown sons stop by when there is time, and their faithful Watch Cat, Sassy is always on guard.