This past Saturday, as people in Hawaii were experiencing about 38 minutes of sheer terror over an official government-issued alert that a potentially deadly missile was headed toward the islands, President Trump was heading toward his golf date in Florida and could not be bothered to tweet that he knew in the first minutes that it was a false report.
The emergency alert was sent out to phones all over Hawaii and via other means around 1:09 p.m. EST, nearly half an hour before Trump was to play a round of golf on the Trump International Golf Course, according to reports by the White House press pool.
The President was briefed on the situation in Hawaii in person by National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and others, who determined it was a mistake by the state of Hawaii emergency agency.
Trump, for his part, did not say anything or tweet out that people in Hawaii were safe.
It took Hawaii officials as many as 40 minutes more to send out a tweet that went as wide as the first warning announcing that the report of a missile attack was false.
Hours after the incident, White House deputy press secretary Lindsay Walters confirmed in a statement that the president had been “briefed on the state of Hawaii’s emergency management exercise.”
Trump remained silent on the incident, not even bothering to criticize it.
When he finally got back to his hotel, Trump did tweet, but not about Hawaii. He sent out tweets complaining about Michael Wolff’s book “Fire and Fury” again.
Trump also took time to retweet alt-right conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiec, who was among those who during the 2016 election falsely claimed Secretary Hillary Clinton was involved with a child sex trafficking ring operating from a pizza store in Washington, D.C.
Trump also tweeted that he was not getting enough credit for the state of the economy and the rising stock market, and accused the Wall Street Journal of misquoting him.
Trump’s failure to alert Hawaiians on a timely basis did, however, draw criticism on Twitter.
For 38 minutes American citizens in Hawaii braced for a ballistic missile strike … and @realDonaldTrump continued his round of golf in Florida on his 120th taxpayer funded vacation day in less than a year. https://t.co/tSSSNiDLDk
— Col. Morris Davis (@ColMorrisDavis) January 13, 2018
A talk show host also had words about Trump.
— Montel Williams (@Montel_Williams) January 13, 2018
A former Congressman vented his anger at Trump.
As 1.5 million American citizens were told a ballistic missile was headed their way and to seek shelter immediately, @realDonaldTrump was somewhere on the back nine of his Florida golf course.
He went ahead and finished out 18.
— John Dingell (@JohnDingell) January 13, 2018
So did a former CNN commentator who lost his job after he criticized Trump.
Trump knew within minutes no missile was hurtling toward Hawaii. He was golfing. They told him. He did not tweet out that info. He kept golfing. People thought they & their families were going to die FOR 38 MINS. Then when the panic was over he tweeted how media is so mean to him
— Very Stable Genuis (@rezaaslan) January 14, 2018
The word that comes to mind for Trump is irresponsible. Instead of thinking about the American people – especially those who were forced to live in terror in Hawaii – Trump was thinking about his golf game, and later his usual list of enemies – the press, Democrats, etc.
Leadership is not just about standing at a podium and spewing words, or sitting at a desk and signing an executive order, or meeting with rich, powerful and influential people. It is about being a leader for all Americans.
With Trump, we don’t get that.