Most politicians know this: there is a time to play politics and win elections. Then there is a time to lead and unite one’s people. Such moments come to every political leader. Such a moment confronted US President Donald Trump last week.

It was a pivotal moment in American politics. In a country where the idea that you speak and convince your opponents about the superiority and justness of your idea, rudimentary pipe bombs were mailed by a rabid Trump supporter to former President Barack Obama, his former deputy Joe Biden, Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, philanthropist George Soros, filmmaker and producer Robert de Niro and other Democratic Party supporters. The media was also targeted.

No matter what party you vote for or support, receiving a pipe bomb in the mail is a scary thing. No one wants to lose limb or life to a bomb. If you are an authentic leader, a time when your opponents and critics are being threatened is a time to rise above partisan politics and defend them — as they, one expects, would defend you.

Poor Donald Trump. He tried to be presidential. On Friday morning, speaking from prepared texts, he said: “These terrorising acts are despicable and have no place in our country…. We will prosecute them, him, her — whoever it may be — to the fullest extent of the law. We must never allow political violence to take root in America. We cannot let it happen.” For those listening to his remarks, hope rose that perhaps the man would find it in himself to continue along these lines and put his usually divisive, hate-filled rhetoric aside. They hoped he would succeed in becoming a real leader, not someone who wants to score a political point or electioneer all the time. He failed. As he had done the day before, he left the prepared script and launched into the media and those he believes should not even begin to speak ill of him. “The media also has a responsibility to set a civil tone and to stop the endless hostility and constant negative — and oftentimes, false — attacks and stories,” T...

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