The difference between President Trump and Barack Obama in two tweets
Yesterday a massive fire ravaged Notre Dame cathedral, an iconic 850-year-old structure and one of the most popular tourist destinations in Paris. As plumes of smoke billowed from the roof and flames toppled the 300-foot spire, the world watched in shock. Fortunately, firefighters were able to save the twin medieval towers and rescue the priceless religious artifacts inside.
A Paris prosecutor has launched an investigation into the fire, and told reporters it was likely an accident linked to restoration work. In wake of the calamity, French president Emmanuel Macron announced a fundraising campaign to repair Notre Dame. "I’m telling you all tonight - we will rebuild this cathedral together," he said, and in less than 24 hours, France's wealthiest citizens raised at least €600m ($677m).
Watch the heartbreaking moment the Notre Dame spire collapses:
Former US president Barack Obama offered his sympathies on Twitter by sharing a photo of his family inside the famous cathedral. "Notre Dame is one of the world’s great treasures, and we’re thinking of the people of France in your time of grief," tweeted Obama. "It’s in our nature to mourn when we see history lost – but it’s also in our nature to rebuild for tomorrow, as strong as we can."
Current US president Donald Trump also responded to the disaster, and offered misguided advice on how to effectively fight the fire. "So horrible to watch the massive fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris," tweeted Trump. "Perhaps flying water tankers could be used to put it out. Must act quickly!"
As many people pointed out in the replies, Trump's idea to use "flying water tankers" would have made the situation worse. "Water-dropping aircraft have not been used at Notre Dame because dumping water on the building could cause the whole structure to collapse," France's civil security agency said, according to Bloomberg. Twitter user @MollyJongFast shared a photo of that quote next to Trump's tweet, joking, "The man fights fires as well as he presidents."
Twitter user @BrianBeutler agreed, sarcastically tweeting, "Everyone knows that the right thing to do when priceless, historic, fragile works of art and architecture are endangered is to drop hundreds of tons of water on them. God, what an embarrassment."
Government agency Sécurité Civile, which operates for the French Ministry of the Interior, confirmed that using water-bombing aircrafts would be catastrophic. "Hundreds of firemen of the Paris Fire Brigade are doing everything they can to bring the terrible #NotreDame fire under control," the agency tweeted. "All means are being used, except for water-bombing aircrafts which, if used, could lead to the collapse of the entire structure of the cathedral."
Retired New York City Fire Department battalion chief Wayne McPartland echoed those comments while speaking to CNBC. "If you hit that with tons of water from above, that’s going to collapse the entire structure and make the situation worse," McPartland said. "[Plus] If you miss, you might hit civilians in the street."
This isn't the first time Trump has shared his firefighting 'expertise.' Last November, he visited Northern California to survey the damage caused by historically deadly wildfires. "We’ve got to take care of the floors," Trump said in a press conference. "You know, the floors of the forest, very important. You look at other countries where they do it differently, and it's a whole different story. I was with the president of Finland, and he said, 'We have a much different... we're a forest nation.' "
In response, Finnish President Sauli Niinisto told the lta-Sanomat newspaper that he did not recall discussing raking with Trump. As for Finnish residents, they found Trump's baffling comment hilarious and mocked him on social media. "Just an ordinary day in the Finnish forest," said Twitter user @pyryluminen, alongside a photo of herself happily raking a forest.
It is unclear where Obama stands on the issue of raking forest floors and flying water tankers. The difference between No. 44's tweet and No. 45's tweet is striking.