Trump feels left out after Congress sang happy birthday to a Tree of Life survivor | Opinion | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Trump feels left out after Congress sang happy birthday to a Tree of Life survivor

And why that is so very, very wrong

click to enlarge Judah Samet - PHOTO: SCREENCAP FROM CBS
Photo: screencap from CBS
Judah Samet
President Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech last night had several moments that gathered praise from Republicans and scorn from Democrats.

But a moment during the speech brought everybody in the House Chamber to their feet, in universal praise.

Judah Samet of Oakland was honored by Trump during his speech. Samet is a Tree of Life congregant who survived last fall’s mass shooting. He also is a Holocaust survivor. After Trump honored Samet and informed everyone that it was Samet’s 81st birthday, the entirety of Congress and others in the chamber sang Happy Birthday.


After the song, Trump, who did not join in, said “They wouldn’t do that for me Judah.”

Some in the chamber laughed, assuming Trump’s line was a joke. But I don’t think Pittsburghers should give Trump the benefit of the doubt. He hasn’t earned it.

Trump told Pittsburghers he would bring back steel and coal, but there are little to no signs that is happening. He boasted his tax cut would be good for Pittsburghers, but they then elected U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb on an anti-tax-cut platform. When he visited Pittsburgh following the Tree of Life mass shooting, thousands of Pittsburghers marched in the streets, opposing his presence. Protesters felt Trump deserved partial blame for the attack because of his anti-immigrant, anti-refugee, and anti-gun control rhetoric and policies.

So, I am going to take Trump at his word, his tone, and his history of narcissism, and assume he is a little bit jealous that Samet got a Happy Birthday song and he didn't.

And here is why that is so very, very wrong.


1. It was Samet’s actual birthday

The Tree of Life survivor turned 81 years old yesterday. Trump told this to the room and then everyone did the customary thing and sang him Happy Birthday. Trump’s birthday is on June 14. Why would Congress sing Trump Happy Birthday four months before his actual birthday? Only Trump’s brain works this way.

2. Samet survived two of the most deadly anti-Semitic events in history

More than 6 million Jews were killed in the Holocaust, the world’s most deadly anti-Semitic event. The Tree of Life shooting was America’s most deadly anti-semitic attack, with 11 people killed. Samet experienced and lived through both of these tragedies. If that isn't worthy of a Congressional Happy Birthday song, I don’t know what is. Sure, Trump is one of 45 men to become president of the U.S., but Samet is the only person to have survived both these events.

3. Trump didn’t join everyone in singing Happy Birthday


It was a very nice gesture for the president to invite Samet, and Pittsburgh Police Officer Timothy Madsen, to the State of the Union. Both survived the Tree of Life mass shooting. But why wouldn’t Trump join in with everyone in singing Happy Birthday to Samet?

There were little moments that hinted Trump’s immense narcissism caused him to stay silent. When the song first broke out, Trump smirked. Sure, it could have been an innocent smirk. But I saw similarities to that time he pushed his way to the front of the crowd during a NATO visit.


After his smirk, Trump proceeded to mock-conduct the chamber in the singing of happy birthday. Again, in Trump’s mind, he is the maestro and we are all the players.

Would it have been that difficult just join in with everyone!? Both Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sang along. Trump seems incapable  of being a part of a group, being a part of something that is bigger than him. Samet’s Happy Birthday song was the best, most bipartisan moment of the speech. But Trump, predictably, was having no part of it.

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