Oh, come on, was anybody really shocked? Comrade Trump thinks people who join the military are suckers and losers — is that actually a surprise? Since the day he stepped into the Oval Office, Trump has shown his disregard for the military and military culture.
It’s not just that Trump dodged the draft during Vietnam; lots of rich white kids did that. I don’t hold that against him. Most draft dodgers didn’t brag about it like Trump, but that’s small beans.
No, Trump’s feelings about the military were apparent in the way he sneered at John McCain for getting ‘caught’. I mean, it doesn’t take any great skill for a fighter pilot to get shot down, but it takes character to deal with all those years as a POW. I’m okay with Trump disagreeing with McCain’s politics (I do too), and I’m okay with mocking him for being a showboat as a politician. But you don’t get to mock his suffering, especially if you’ve evaded military service yourself.
Trump’s feeling about the military was apparent in the way casually sneered at the family of Capt. Humayun Khan, who was killed during a suicide attack in Iraq. In the way he forgot the name of Sgt. La David Johnson (who was killed in an insurgent attack in Niger, and whose body was left behind) in his condolence call to the widow, in the way he said this about her husband’s death: “It’s what he signed up for.” It was apparent when his Trump Foundation publicly raised money for a veterans group but failed to failed to actually give that money to the group until the New York Attorney General began an investigation into the misappropriation of the funds. It was apparent in the way he interfered (against all protocol) in the cases of at least two soldiers accused/convicted of war crimes.
And, of course, his feelings about the military were apparent in 2018 when he bailed on attending a ceremony at the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery, which holds the bodies of more than 1800 US Marines who died during the battle of Bellaeu Wood. Trump claimed the weather that day prohibited his helicopter from flying; he also said the Secret Service was reluctant to drive him the 40 miles to the cemetery for security reasons. And yet Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel were able to attend the ceremony despite the rain. So was Trump’s own Chief of Staff, John Kelly, who was driven there by his staff.
But not Trump.
A year earlier, on Memorial Day in 2017. Trump accompanied Kelly, to Arlington National Cemetery, where Kelly’s son is buried. According to reports, Trump looked at the long lines of white headstones and said to Kelly, “I don’t get it. What was in it for them?”
And there it is. That comment is perfectly on-brand for Trump, and it explains his feelings about military service. Trump views the world in purely transactional terms; he sees every interaction (at least with those outside his family) as a negotiation, an exchange in which somebody gains and somebody loses. Every interaction — what’s in it for me, what’s in it for them, and what do I need to do to come out on top?
If that is, in fact, Trump’s worldview (and I see no reason to doubt it), then of course he’d see the troops as suckers, as losers. There’s no tangible profit in serving in the military. You can make a fortune selling stuff to the military, but putting on a uniform? Following orders that could get you killed, and for a ridiculously low salary? That’s a mug’s game.
Me, I’m a mug. So were both my brothers. So was my father and many of my uncles. I don’t like playing the patriot card, but we’ve paid our dues. Which is something nobody named Trump has ever done.
EDITORIAL NOTE: We’ve got less than 60 days to the election. Do your duty. Vote. Vote early. Vote, but just vote ONCE.