Editorial: Will Trump’s Disrespect for the U.S. Military Finally Be the Last Straw for His Base?

Though Americans are no longer shocked at the unethical and dishonest things Donald Trump says and does, we haven’t stopped being appalled at each new instance. We have come to realize that there is no depth too deep for Trump to plumb, even as each time, we say, “Surely this time will be the last straw. No one will put up with that.” This week’s last straw came from an article that illustrates Donald Trump’s abiding disrespect toward U.S. troops.

The article, by The Atlantic editor in chief Jeffrey Goldberg, describes a number of occasions, occurring over time, when Trump has made deeply offensive comments about the U.S. military. His remarks have ranged from wondering aloud why a fallen soldier would be willing to make such a sacrifice, to implying that captured soldiers had failed at their jobs, and questioning why it was worth the effort to try to locate or rescue them.

In one incident, Trump was set to visit he Aisne-Marne American Cemetery to pay respects to fallen American World War I soldiers during a trip to France. Because of inclement weather, Trump, concerned about his hair, decided to skip the visit to the cemetery, saying, “Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers.”

Trump denied the story, and told reporters that he had called Melania at home and told her he was upset that the trip had to be canceled. “I spoke to my wife and I said ‘I hate this. I came here to go to that ceremony.’ And to the one that was the following day which I did go to. I said I feel terribly. And that was the end of it.” (In reality, Melania wasn’t “home,” she was in France with Trump.)

Trump aides who were present during the incident say that when Trump learned of the press fallout from his decision to skip the cemetery visit, he got angry at the aides for not warning him how the press would react.

The Atlantic article also tells of Trump’s visit to Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day 2017, with then chief of staff General John Kelly. At the grave of Kelly’s son, Robert, who was killed in the line of duty in Afghanistan, Trump said to Kelly, ‘I don’t get it. What was in it for them?’”

Donald Trump’s insulting comments about the late John McCain, who was a prisoner of war in Viet Nam, are well known. In 2015, Trump called McCain a “loser,”saying that he wasn’t a war hero because he was a prisoner of war. “I like people who weren’t captured, ok?” Said Trump. Trump now denies ever having made those remarks, though they’re immortalized on video.

About the article in The Atlantic, Trump has said, “I would be willing to swear on anything that I never said that about our fallen heroes,” Trump told reporters. “There is nobody that respects them more. No animal — nobody — what animal would say such a thing?”

And “It was a terrible thing that somebody could say the kind of things — and especially to me ’cause I’ve done more for the military than almost anyone anybody else.”

Alas, however, even Fox News confirmed the reports included in the article. Fox News’ Jennifer Griffin tweeted, “According to one former senior Trump administration official: ‘When the President spoke about the Vietnam War, he said, ‘It was a stupid war. Anyone who went was a sucker’.”

Griffin also tweeted, “This former official heard the President say about American veterans: ‘What’s in it for them? They don’t make any money.’ Source: “It was a character flaw of the President. He could not understand why someone would die for their country, not worth it.”

Trump has denied the reports as a “fake story.” He is pressuring Fox News to fire Griffin. Of Griffin’s “source,” Trump suggested that it could have been his former chief of staff, retired Marine Gen. John Kelly.

In a possible advance attempt to discredit John Kelly, should Kelly turn out to be the source, Trump said, Kelly had been burned out, and “was unable to handle the pressure of this job.”

Each time Donald Trump has said or done something that should appall even his steadfast base, the base has found ways to deny, excuse, or rationalize his behavior. When none of those options is possible, they take the option of not caring.

When the news came out recently that Russia had offered Taliban-linked militants cash bounties on the heads of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, we all thought that surely Trump’s base, in its passion for the U.S. military, would care about this. When Trump didn’t show outrage or vow to get to the bottom of the story, and instead disregarded the news as a “Democrat hoax,” however, his base, too, chose simply not to care.

The base continues to look expectantly to Donald Trump as their hero and savior, as their jobs, their environment, their health and well-being, and likely even their Medicare and Social Security benefits, are pulled out from under them. Their “America First” ignorance and apathy about the crucial relationships between the U.S. and the rest of the world have caused them to allow Donald Trump to slide the country into a precarious and disrespected position in the world, while promising to Make America Great Again.

It is incomprehensible that Trump’s base could possibly find it in themselves to continue their support for a commander-in-chief who disparages and belittles what they consider hallowed— the U.S. military. Surely, this incident, this accounting of Trump’s complete lack of esteem and respect for our troops, should be the thing that opens the eyes of Trump’s base to how inappropriate, unsuitable, and incompetent Trump is for the office of president. It’s a safe bet once again, however, that even with this incident, the base will simply choose not to care.

Trump Calls Fallen U.S. Troops ‘Losers’ and ‘Suckers’ | NowThis News

Trump vehemently upset over Atlantic article that suggests he disrespected troops, John McCain | CBS This Morning [2020-09-04]

Editorial: Trump’s M.O.: “I Can’t Help It If You Didn’t See Me”

When a reporter followed up with Donald Trump about his reason for not wearing a face mask during his visit to a Phoenix, Arizona, facility that is producing face masks, Trump said this in response:

“I can’t help it if you didn’t see me.”

Though it was a response to the reporter’s observation that at no time did anyone see Trump wearing a face mask at Honeywell, the Arizona plant, “I can’t help it if you didn’t see me,” sums up so much about Donald Trump’s sleight-of-hand mode of operation.

“I can’t help it if you didn’t see me” is a petulant adolescent’s response. It’s an easy cover for a lie that implies that the failure in the situation is the other person’s for not seeing him do what he was supposed to do (but almost certainly didn’t).

Regarding the face mask observation, Trump claimed that while visiting the plant, he “had a mask on for a period of time.” He also said (despite signage that said, “Please wear your mask at all times,” and “Face mask required in this area”) that facility leaders told him he wasn’t required to wear a mask.

“I had it on backstage,” he said. “I can’t help it if you didn’t see me.”

That response demonstrates how easy it is for Donald Trump to tell any lie, stretch any fact, deny any allegation, and then discredit those who challenge him. It adeptly characterizes the gaslighting that has been the hallmark of Donald Trump’s presidency, nay, Donald Trump’s entire career:

“(My inaugural crowd) looked like a million-and-a-half people” and “went all the way back to the Washington Monument.” (I can’t help it if you didn’t see that.)

There was nothing wrong with that call to the Ukraine. “It was a perfect call.” I had a perfect call with President Zelenskiy. (I can’t help it if you didn’t see me.)

“The (COVID-19) tests are perfect!” “There are plenty of ventilators.” (I can’t help it if you don’t see any.)

“I always knew the coronavirus would be a pandemic.” (I can’t help it if you didn’t hear me say that.)

“But Your Highness, you have no clothes!” (I can’t help it if you don’t see them.)

In July of 2018, Trump told supporters at a convention in Missouri, “Just remember—what you are seeing and what you are reading is not what’s happening.”

Some found this declaration to be frighteningly similar to a line from George Orwell’s dystopian novel, 1984: “The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.”

Our president’s adolescent gaslighting tactics are obvious and unsophisticated to most of those outside his base. To the members of his base, however, they are somehow nothing more than reassurances that their leader is the only one they can trust.

People who can be so easily and readily manipulated with adolescent tactics will have no defense against more sophisticated Orwellian tactics. In the novel, 1984, “Big Brother” kept an eye on citizens’ every move, banning individuality, personal freedoms, and independent thought. Trump’s base purports to hold all of those ideals as sacred. They are the ones who cry, “my liberty!” and “stop the tyranny!” perhaps the loudest.

Ironically, as they willingly overlook Donald Trump’s gaslighting and continue to look to him as their source of truth, they are the ones who are empowering the would-be authoritarian who wants to squelch their free and open society.

If one day, Trump’s base were to discover the depth to which they have been duped while being stripped by this administration of important freedoms and protections, they will have to accept Trump’s defense: “I can’t help it if you didn’t see me.”

President Trump claims he wore mask at Arizona factory, as he backtracks on coronavirus task force | The Telegraph {2020-05-07]

Rep. Says Trump Is Gaslighting The Nation Over Coronavirus | NowThis