Donald Trump is running to be the person the American people look to in moments of great consequence. So his initial response to the most deadly shooting in U.S. history has been under scrutiny. “Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism,” he wrote. “I don't want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!” His critics think it’s weird that he made even a mass murder about himself and worry that his leadership style would be ineffective.
Yet looking back at the rhetoric of America’s most successful presidents, one sees striking parallels in the leadership that they offered in response to historical events.
“I am much obliged by your felicitations for being right about the subject of my debate with Stephen Douglas,” Abraham Lincoln declared on the battlefield at Gettysburg, “but I don’t want felicitations, I want the world to long remember that I dedicated, consecrated, and hallowed this ground, a final resting place of winners. Sad!”
In 1933, facing economic times as dire as any in the nation’s history, Franklin Delano Roosevelt delivered his first inaugural address, telling his countrymen, “Thanks for your well wishes on defeating Teetotaling Herbert, a loser, but I don’t want well wishes, I want you to understand that the only thing we have to fear is foreign labor, general strikes, uncooperative Supreme Court justices, and political correctness, among many other serious threats that only I can protect you from.”