Did Trump fail his biggest test in Florida shooting response?

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Story highlights

  • Dean Obeidallah: After Florida massacre, Trump faced "desk test": would he respond in presidential fashion? He failed
  • He says in self-congratulatory tweets and speech filled with misinformation, he showed his only intent was to sow fear

Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is the host of SiriusXM's weekly program "The Dean Obeidallah Show," a columnist for The Daily Beast and editor of the politics blog The Dean's Report. Follow him on Twitter: @TheDeansreport. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his.

(CNN)This week, Donald Trump faced his first test on how he would respond to a terror attack on U.S. soil as president. He failed.

That's not just my view, it's one even shared by some in the GOP who believe Trump's response to the massacre at an Orlando nightclub does not pass the so-called "desk test" — a measure, that is, of how he well he would react if he were in the seat of power as the leader of the free world.
    You might have thought, for example, that before facing reporters Monday to react to the Florida shooting, Trump and his advisers would've huddled up to ensure he offered the image of a stable, knowledgeable leader intent on uniting all Americans during a crisis, much like George W. Bush after 9/11.
    Instead Trump has served up inflammatory, random and unsubstantiated facts aimed more at stoking panic than urging calm, implying, even, that President Obama supports Islamic terrorism.
    CNN fact checks Trump's speech on the shooting
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      CNN fact checks Trump's speech on the shooting

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    CNN fact checks Trump's speech on the shooting 03:51
    I could tell you that what he said should alarm you, but a short tour through the first 48 hours after the tragedy will show you all you need to know:
    1. Trump suggested on Monday that President Obama was sympathetic to the Muslim terrorists who have killed Americans: "Our government, we're led by a man that is a very-- look, we're led by a man that either is not tough, not smart, or he's got something else in mind." Trump, who has a long history of implying that Obama is secretly a Muslim, then emphasized, "There's something going on. It's inconceivable. There's something going on."
    2. Only hours after the attack Sunday and with scores of people in the hospital fighting for their lives, Trump congratulated himself on Twitter for predicting that Americans would one day be killed by terrorists:
    "Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don't want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance."
    3. On Sunday afternoon Trump tweeted,
    "Reporting that Orlando killer shouted "Allah hu Akbar!" as he slaughtered club-goers."
    In the real world, no media outlet had reported such a thing. Trump just apparently copied down and shared things he had read ... where? On Twitter? This is not about political correctness, it's about his failing to ensure that he is correct before sharing information hours after a horrible tragedy.
    4. Trump attempted to use the Orlando tragedy to support his baseless claim from months ago that "thousands" of Muslims were cheering in New Jersey as the twin towers came down on 9/11. Trump tweeted late Monday afternoon that, "I thought people weren't celebrating? They were cheering all over, even this savage from Orlando. I was right."
    Trump then linked to a New York Post article that quotes a former classmate of the Orlando gunman claiming that on 9/11 the shooter said, "Stuff like, 'That's what America deserves.'" Of course, even if true, this happened in Florida, not New Jersey, and it was one apparently deranged person "celebrating," not thousands.
    5. In much the same way Trump attempted to advance his own agenda by labeling American-born federal Judge Gonzalo Curiel a "Mexican," on Monday, in his major speech about terrorism, Trump said the Orlando shooter "was born an Afghan." The gunman was in fact born in New York and was an American: his parents immigrated to the United States from Afghanistan. Again this isn't about political correctness; it's about trusting a candidate for president to be straight with the American people.
    6. In his speech, Trump reiterated his idea for a Muslim ban as a way to prevent future Orlando-type shootings. It is dangerous, un-American nonsense on many levels, but at its most basic: How would that ban have stopped the 29-year-old gunman — homegrown, born and raised in America?
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    7. Trump made yet another factual error Monday, declaring that there are "thousands and thousands of people pouring into our country right now who have the same kind of hate and probably even more than" the Orlando gunman. The reality? More than a million Syrian refugees have poured into Europe, but only about 3,500 have been allowed into the United States — after first undergoing an 18-24 month vetting period. In addition, there's zero evidence that these refugees "hate" America, the country they fled to from a war zone to make a new life, as did the forebears of so many Americans reading this article.
    8. On Monday night, Trump revoked the press credentials of The Washington Post in response to its article reporting that Trump "seems to connect President Obama with Orlando shooting." Trump appears more concerned with managing his image than allowing the accurate reporting of a free press — an institution unavailable in countries run by despots who oppress their citizens. This attitude should concern voters.
    Is this first test a preview of how a President Trump would respond to a crisis? Would a President Trump tweet unsubstantiated claims that could mislead Americans? Could a President Trump order a military attack before all the facts are known? Would President Trump gin up fears of minority groups for political gain?
    We are by now used to the no-holds-barred, facts-be-damned approach of this candidate (he paints this bogusness as truth-telling), but we might've hoped that as the country faces a deadly serious threat, he would summon some gravitas and confront the crisis as a leader should.
    But he ends up being the same old Trump.