The arrest of Cesar Sayoc, the suspected pipe-bomber, after just four days of national apprehension gave ordinary Americans a brief respite from the fears engendered by the 14 pipe bombs he sent to Democratic politicians and critics of Donald Trump.
The FBI, previously a target of the president, demonstrated its capability — even to Trump's satisfaction — by its swift success in finding the man likely responsible.
Then the second shock came ...
Eleven worshippers at a Pittsburgh synagogue were killed and six injured, including four policemen, by a virulent anti-semitic white nationalist, Robert Bowers.
Bowers media postings sought to rationalise his murderous intent by spurious claims of a white genocide for which he blamed Jews and HIAS.
HIAS is the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, a non-government organisation founded in 1830 to help Jewish refugees, which has broadened its coverage to all refugees, regardless of religion.
The near-miss of the unexploded bombs let us exhale for a moment until those horrific murders flooded whole communities with tears of grief. The killing of people engaged in a peaceful worship service was the worst attack on Jews in American history.
Following such national crises, bombings, massacres, one can expect the usual seeking after motive, calls for gun legislation, and acknowledgment and comfort for the grieving by the highest levels of government.
Presidents in the past did not hesitate to appear with the families of the stricken to ameliorate — with the full dignity of that office — the pain of the mourners and to assure the entire country of its unified caring and concern. Not so for this president.
Cesar Soyac, the alleged bomber, lived in a van plastered over with Trump and MAGA (Make America Great Again) signs. There are videos of his prominent sign-bearing at Trump rallies.
In the face of these facts, Trump denied that Soyac was a supporter.
Prior to the capture, Trump derided the matter, claimed that "this bomb stuff" was a false-flag operation designed by Democrats to distract from "Republican momentum" in the weeks before the midterm elections.
Expressing his sense of victimhood, Trump whinged that he'd have to start over. Nothing about the possible deaths and damage that the bombs might have caused if exploded.
His response to the murders in Pittsburgh was to blame the victims. Trump declared that they might have been spared if they had hired security guards.
Then, mouthing a few platitudes about the need for the nation to come together, to seek civil discourse, he returned to his campaign themes.
He blamed the press for criticising him and claimed (falsely) that Democrats — and especially billionaire George Soros — were behind the group of desperate asylum seekers from Honduras whom he labeled a "caravan" that was intent on "invading" the United States.
Among this group, he offered (with no proof), were "Middle Easterners" (read "terrorists"). He might go to Pittsburgh some time but was intent on campaigning.
Beyond the tastelessness and self-seeking are Trump's own actions.
He has actively encouraged violence, suggested protesters at his rallies should be "beaten up", led chants of locking up his political opponents, called the press "the enemy of the people" and embraced a congressional candidate convicted for assaulting a reporter.
His equivocation, failing to condemn the murderous neo-Nazis of Charlottsville, and his self-description as a "nationalist" are of a piece, placing a significant degree of responsibility for this current political violence directly on his shoulders.
In seeking for motive, a counter-terrorism profiler on CNN characterised someone like the bombing suspect, Cesar Sayoc, as not mentally ill, but extremely entitled, focused on himself, and lacking empathy or concern for potential innocent bystanders.
She could as easily have been describing the president.
Jay Kuten is an American-trained forensic psychiatrist who emigrated to New Zealand for the fly fishing. He spent 40 years comforting the afflicted and intends to spend the rest afflicting the comfortable.