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Trump exploits pipe-bomb scare, deepens divisions, ratchets up toxic incivility

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Though upstaged in horror and in carnage by the massacre of 11 Jewish worshipers at a Pittsburgh synagogue over the weekend, the recent series of at least 14 pipe bombs sent to leading critics of President Donald J. Trump rises as yet another disturbing example of the out-of-control incivility ripping apart the very fabric of our nation.

As of Tuesday, the pipe-bomb packages had been sent to perceived enemies of Trump such as Hillary and Bill Clinton, Barack and Michelle Obama, former Vice President Joe Biden, U.S. Reps. Corey Baker and Maxine Waters, Democrat donor George Soros, CNN addressees and others. In fact, Cesar Sayoc, the suspect in the case, had a list of about 100 intended targets, the Associated Press reported Tuesday.

Fortunately, this would-be mass assassination plot so far has fizzled out completely, thanks in large part to the professional and detailed work of postal inspectors, bomb squads, police canine units and many other cooperating local, state and federal authorities.

All of the pipe-bomb packages were confiscated before they were delivered, and none of the intended targets were injured or killed. What’s more, those same sleuthing skills also succeeded in the capture of a prime suspect within days of the bombs’ discovery.

Authorities have built a strong case against Sayoc with compelling evidence. As a result, we hope prosecutors tackle this case as aggressively as possible, starting with a denial of bond at his next hearing in Miami on Friday.

We also sincerely hope the feds got their man and that he acted alone so that the spate of bomb attempts can come to an end.

One additional package, similar to 13 others before it, however, was confiscated Monday in Atlanta before reaching CNN, a favorite of the critics of “fake news.” Authorities do warn that other pipe-bomb packages could still be lurking in the nation’s gigantic postal network.

If they are, we’re confident the same mature investigative skills will kick in to intercept the crude explosives long before they reach any additional addressees.

Let there be no doubt, however, that their explosive impact could have been devastating. As New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo pointed out late last week, “They are bombs capable of detonation. That has been established.”

They are not, as some right-wing conspiracy theorists would have you believe, so-called “false flags” planned for the final days of this year’s divisive midterm election campaigns and designed to portray conservatives as a ragtag gang of violent bloodthirsty radicals.

Rather, they are yet one of the latest chilling manifestations of incivility gone wild that have polluted the national bloodstream, most notably in its toxic political discourse.


And, once again, those who would look to President Trump, the so-called leader of the Western world for hope and comfort, find themselves patently disappointed and discouraged.

Once again, Trump has failed in the consoler-in-chief role that all other modern-era chief executives have embraced. He has chosen to amplify discord and maximize divisions at a time of crisis.

At a rally in Charlotte, N.C., on Friday shortly after Sayoc’s arrest, the billionaire real-estate developer from New York City told his largely adoring and pumped-up audience: “We have seen an effort by the media in recent hours to use the sinister acts of one individual to score political points against me and the Republican party.”

Instead of reaching out to offer comfort to any of the bomb targets or invoking a national resolve to trimph over the insidious evil of the bomb plot, Trump predictably stuck to his same old script of vitriolic attacks and venomous hate.

And once again as well, Republican leaders in Congress and elsewhere have failed their nation by refusing to call out the president’s acidic tones and tumultuous rhetoric. As long as those and other apologists for Trump look the other way, the president will only become more emboldened.

Sadly, that translates into additional anguishing delays before a much-needed national healing can commence.