World leaders behave in a settled pattern after a terrorist attack, so we know what to expect after the gruesome events in Nice on Thursday.

French President Emmanuel Macron will proclaim outrage at the killing of three citizens, and pledge to honor them by upholding the values of the republic — especially the freedom of expression. Messages of sorrow and solidarity will come from other heads of state. Leaders of Muslim countries will express regret at the blood spilled, apparently in the name of their faith.

Mere rhetoric to the ears of some, but what leaders say at moments like these matters. And all the more so now because too many leaders have recently been unable or unwilling to say the right things.