Now, closer to the election, what framework will be imposed? Something was learned from the politics around San Bernardino and the primary season is over, so I suspect that Democrats will not choose to emphasize gun control (unless this turns out to have been a lone mentally ill person). The Democrats may try to use the idea of an attack on a gay club to criticize Donald Trump for creating a divisive atmosphere of hate, even though none of his alleged hate-mongering has been about gay people. As for what Trump and his proxies will say, it depends on who the murderer turns out to be.
I'm going to watch all the Sunday morning talk shows, and I will update this post as I hear various statements. The previous post is for comments about the terrible incident itself. Forgive me for being so brutal as to go immediately to the effect on presidential politics, but please keep the comments here to this topic, which I think is important because — like the San Bernardino massacre (and even more than it) — this event is a skewing point in electoral politics, and everyone speaking for the campaigns knows it. Sympathy will be expressed, along with warnings to wait to hear the facts, but the politics are underway, and I'm going to tell you about what everyone does on the TV shows this morning.
1. "State of the Union" with Jake Tapper devoted nearly the entire show to news coverage of the event. In the final 5-minute segment. Tapper displayed the tweets from Donald Trump — "Really bad shooting in Orlando. Police investigating possible terrorism. Many people dead and wounded." — and Hillary Clinton — "Woke up to hear the devastating news from FL. As we wait for more information, my thoughts are with those affected by this horrific act. -H" Tapper noted that the "H" at the end of a tweet on Hillary Clinton's account indicates that "she herself wrote that tweet." After that the guest is the Republican Congressman Peter King, who knows the name of the shooter but won't say it and knows of indications of "Islamist leanings," but the discussion was focused on the facts of the incident.
2. "Fox News Sunday" with Bret Baier went straight to politics, with Senator Jeff Sessions as the Trump proxy and Senator Amy Klobuchar as the Clinton proxy. Sessions, asked about the Orlando incident, said it "certainly looks like... Islamic extremism" and stressed the need to "openly and directly" confront the extremist element within Islam, including restricting immigration. Baier prompted him to connect the incident to guns and to Clinton's support for gun control, and Sessions slotted in his talking point about the Supreme Court and the supposed precariousness of the Second Amendment individual right to bear arms. Klobuchar emphasized waiting for more information and the importance of not seeming to accuse all Muslims (and she credited Sessions for having said the same thing). She brought up guns only when Baier asked her, and then only to blandly reference common-sense limits that wouldn't infringe the gun rights that she assured us Clinton believes in.
3. "Meet the Press" began with news and news analysis, and that analysis went heavily into the subject of guns, how much damage one person could do in a crowded place with the kind of guns this murderer had. The name is now being said, Omar Mateen, and there are repeated references to the man's father saying that his son was recently enraged when he saw 2 men kissing. I get the sense that the show would like to forefront hatred of gay people and minimize the significance of his religion, which is Muslim. The show switches over to Chuck Todd with the this set up: "Obviously, there are many elements to the story, we don't want to play the politics too much... but obviously, this will play into the presidential elections." That's not in the official show transcript (here). I guess the show got re-edited. Todd credits Trump and Clinton with being low key, but complains about the excessively political tweets of other, unnamed, politicians and homes in on gun control.
4. The "Face the Nation" time slot was straight news, no political spinning.
5. "This Week" with George Stephanopoulos had by far the most coverage of the presidential campaign, with a pre-recorded interview from Paul Ryan (that's worth discussing, but didn't cover the incident) and interviews with Trump's man Manafort and with Bernie Sanders. But there was a panel in the end — transcript —that eventually touched on the incident in the way that the second paragraph of this post anticipated. Katrina Vanden Heuvel was attacking Donald Trump for his "fear mongering and exploiting racial anxieties and bigotry" and, bringing up the Orlando incident, she said:
Donald Trump's idea of a counterterrorism program is banning all Muslims, bombing all families in the Middle East, essentially [sic] -- ISIS families, and torturing -- I think the, you know, grief and anger today. But we can't lose sight of senseless gun violence and the gun epidemic in this country. 66 people killed in Chicago in May. Hillary Clinton has a very strong gun control program. Trump, he's tethered to the NRA. I think that has to be...When I heard that I said out loud, "That does not help Hillary." Then Donna Brazile followed on with generic references to "mass shootings" (and not terrorism), and I was saying "This isn't what Hillary wants to hear." That set up Bill Kristol, who prefaced his remark with "Look, I am anti-Trump" and proceeded with what I consider absolutely apt political analysis:
[I]f this was an act of Islamic terrorism, whether a lone wolf, or perhaps a lot of lone wolves turn out to have connection abroad one way or the other.... But if he was motivated by Islamist jihadist ideology, these talking points are not going to work, it's going to -- Donald Trump, the best moment, I say this with regret, the moment that helped Trump win the nomination was the San Bernardino massacre and his calling for a ban of all Muslims, which is an insane -- bad public policy, undoable, and we shouldn't do it. Having said that, it helped him. And I think we shouldn't kid ourselves. And, frankly, if these are the Democratic talking points here, senseless gun violence, it's not senseless.It's not senseless. That's right. It's the sense of some people who have a specific ideology of hate and violence. Blaming the guns was the Democrats' instinctive move last December after the San Bernardino massacre, and it was the wrong choice politically. Hillary needs to set herself up as a resolute fighter against terrorism, and I think she will. Obviously, Trump will. It would be stupid to cede that ground to him. But real left-wingers like Katrina Vanden Heuvel — not helping Hillary — head directly to the their anti-gun safe space.
ADDED: As noted above, what showed on "Meet the Press" for me wasn't the same as the transcript. I'm reading that now. There was a panel with Tom Brokaw, Hugh Hewitt, Amy Walter, and Joy Reid. Tom Brokaw went first and said it didn't matter whether the facts end up showing that the shooting was "connected to some kind of an international group," because, for him, the problem is guns. Hewitt focused on ISIS, but Walter and Reid stuck with the gun theme. When Hewitt said, "ISIS would do this to a hundred million Americans if they could," Reid rejoined: "But so would white nationalists."