President Trump’s privileged disrespect for the military

Liam Flynn, Staff Writer

On July 18, 2015, at the family leadership summit in Ames, Iowa, President Donald Trump recalled long-time Arizona senator and former U.S. Navy soldier John McCain saying something that Trump considered to be an insult to him and his supporters.

“I said, ‘Somebody should run against McCain,’ who has been, in my opinion, not so hot,” said Trump. “And I supported him for president! I raised a million dollars for him. That’s a lot of money! I supported him. He lost. He let us down. But he lost. So I never liked him much after that, because I don’t like losers.”

Amid audience laughter, the moderator, Republican pollster Frank Luntz, interjected, “But he’s a war hero!”

Trump responded, “He’s not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured.”

Trump even resisted lowering the flag over the White House when McCain died.

Trump’s understanding of heroism has not evolved since he became president. He seems to genuinely not understand why Americans treat former prisoners of war with respect.

The president certainly does not understand why pilots who are shot down in combat are honored by the military. On at least two occasions since becoming president, according to three sources with direct knowledge of his views, Trump referred to former President George H. W. Bush as a “loser” for being shot down by the Japanese as a Navy pilot in World War II.

When the president canceled a visit to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery near Paris in 2018, he blamed rain for the last-minute decision, saying that “the helicopter couldn’t fly” and that the Secret Service wouldn’t drive him there.

Neither claim was true.

Trump rejected the idea of the visit because he feared his hair would become disheveled in the rain, and because he did not believe it important to honor American war dead, according to four people with firsthand knowledge of the discussion that day.

In a conversation with senior staff members on the morning of the scheduled visit, Trump said, “Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers.”

In a separate conversation on the same trip, Trump referred to the more than 1,800 marines who lost their lives at Belleau Wood as “suckers” for getting killed.

Trump is a person born of privilege who views people not as individuals, but as pawns. This transactional worldview explains the fact that he simply cannot fathom why anyone would volunteer to serve. It is incomprehensible to him.

In Trump’s mind, nothing is worth doing without the possibility of a significant monetary reward or boost in status.

As Goldberg noted, after then-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joe Dunford had delivered a White House briefing, Trump asked aides, “That guy is smart. Why did he join the military?”

Trump loves to pose in the reflected glory of veterans, but his tone changes as soon as military personnel don’t agree with his own narrative. Throughout his decades in public life, Trump has exemplified the idea of hollow, performative patriotism.

He’s had a lifelong love affair with military pageantry. Despite being a Vietnam war draft-dodger, Trump said he felt as if he truly was in the military because he attended an upstate New York military prep school. But then, Trump ran for president, and his view of the institution changed, especially when it clashed with his conservatism.

As commander-in-chief, Trump sent as many as 6,000 troops to the U.S. – Mexico border, where he hoped he could use the military to detain illegal immigration.

The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 states that can not happen.

Some of the troops who were deployed domestically were ordered to serve their country by painting portions of Trump’s border wall.

More recently, he restored the rank of Eddie Gallagher, a convicted war criminal whose fellow Navy SEALs described as “freaking evil,” “toxic” and “perfectly O.K. with killing anybody that was moving.”

Trump invited him to his Mar-a-Lago resort for a personal meeting, which Gallagher has used as a springboard for TV appearances and apparel sales.

Against the objections of top Pentagon officials, Trump issued full pardons to two Army officers convicted of murder. After the killing of Qasen Soleimani last month and Iran’s retaliatory strike on an Iraqi base housing U.S. military personnel, Trump said there were no U.S. casualties. Two weeks later, the Defense Department said 34 troops had been diagnosed with concussions or brain trauma. Trump, normally one to luxuriate in the gory details of battle, downplayed their symptoms as “headaches” and “not very serious.”

Democratic National Committee senior spokesperson and adviser Lily Adams recently said, “Trump doesn’t know what it means to sacrifice for our country, and he clearly has no respect for the brave men and women who have. Veterans and fallen soldiers should be venerated, not insulted and mocked by anyone, especially the commander in chief.”

This all ties into what I have noticed since Trump ran for president – he is a poser.

Think of your loved ones and relatives in the military that are overseas risking their lives. Think of the veterans who are fortunately here to tell their stories. You would probably be enraged if someone came up to you and called someone you know who was killed in action a “loser.”

Why does our president get a pass?

You would think he would get slandered by every decent American citizen, but somehow he still has a huge following that continually makes excuses for him.

He can not tweet his way out of this one. Trump does not respect the military.

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