I remember when, a few years back, Republicans and the conservative media had a mini meltdown because Barack Obama saluted the Marines standing outside Marine One while holding a coffee cup. In their minds, that was the ultimate sign of disrespect.
For those who may have forgotten, or think that I’m joking, I’m being absolutely serious — that actually happened just over three years ago.
Yet now most of these same people continue to make excuses for Donald Trump, a man who’s disrespected our military and our veterans more than probably any other president in history.
Let’s run down all of the things Trump has said and done to display a total lack of respect for our brave men and women in uniform and those who’ve previously served:
- He said Senator John McCain wasn’t a war hero because he “likes people who weren’t captured.”
- Once claimed that he knew more about terrorism than our generals.
- After skipping a GOP presidential debate because Fox News refused to pull Megyn Kelly as a moderator, he staged an event where he used “raising money for veterans” as a shield from criticism for cowardly refusing to participate in the debate prior to the Iowa Caucus.
- After spending four months bragging about giving $1 million to veterans groups, and his campaign manager insisting that the money had already been paid, it wasn’t until after The Washington Post discovered that he hadn’t fulfilled his promise that he finally wrote them a check.
- He repeatedly attacked Gold Star parents of an American hero who died fighting in Iraq.
- When a veteran allegedly gave him his Purple Heart medal, Trump bragged about telling the retired lieutenant colonel, “I always wanted to get the Purple Heart. This was much easier.” For the record, the Purple Heart is awarded to those who’ve been wounded or killed in combat — while Trump used multiple deferments to avoid fighting in Vietnam.
- He’s repeatedly tried to undermine the credibility of U.S. intelligence agencies, which includes the Army, Marines, Navy, and Air Force.
- Has banned transgender Americans from being able to serve their country, casting serious doubt on the futures of the thousands of transgender soldiers who are currently serving.
- When asked whether or not he had called the families of the four men who died in Niger, instead of simply saying he hadn’t yet but was planning to, he used their deaths as a way to try to make himself look good, while blatantly lying about and slandering past presidents, falsely claiming that they didn’t call the families of fallen soldiers.
- Instead of simply admitting that he misspoke when he said previous presidents hadn’t called the families of soldiers who had died in combat, Trump evoked the death of White House Chief of Staff John Kelly’s son to mention that Barack Obama didn’t call the retired general’s family after his son was killed in combat.
- Apparently told the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, one of the four soldiers who died in Niger, that “he knew what he signed up for, but I guess it hurts anyway.” He then denied saying this, accusing Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL) of “fabricating” the story, only for Johnson’s mother to later confirm that he did, in fact, disrespect her son during his phone call to the widow.
- During a phone call with Chris Baldridge, father of Cpl. Dillion Baldridge, after his son died in Afghanistan on June 10th, Trump promised to send him a check for $25,000 — then never sent it. Only after The Washington Post discovered that Trump had never sent the money he promised Mr. Baldridge — months after he told him he would — did the White House issue a statement that the “check was in the mail.” Apparently it takes months for a check to travel from Washington D.C. to North Carolina.
- Despite Trump claiming that he’s “called every family of somebody that’s died” while he’s been “president,” The Washington Post contacted the families of 13 of the 20 soldiers who’ve died — only around half of them have received calls from Trump. One mother hadn’t received either a call nor a letter.
That’s a disgusting list of blatant disrespect shown by Trump toward our military and our veterans.
And it’s not even that I expect any president, even Trump, to call the families of every soldier who’s killed in combat. It’s a nice gesture, but it’s not something that I’d expect or demand a president to do every single time.
My issue with Trump is that he’s lying about calling all of these families to try to make himself look good. For him this isn’t about respecting our military, our veterans, or their families — it’s about trying to use them to make himself look better. Had he said he tries to call as many families as he can, then it wouldn’t be that big of a deal that he didn’t get around to calling all of them.
Except that’s not what he said.
Trump said, verbatim, that he’s “called every family of someone that’s died” when that was a flat-out lie. That’s not the “fake news” saying that, it’s the actual families of soldiers who’ve died while he’s been “president” telling members of the media that they never received a call.
Again, the fact that he hasn’t called some of these families isn’t the issue. At least not in my opinion. For me it’s the fact that he’s lying about calling all of them to make himself look good. His supporters can spin that all they want, but that’s Trump exploiting the deaths of these soldiers for no other reason than what equates to a PR move to attempt to improve his image.
Then there’s the story about the $25,000 check he never sent that the White House claimed was “in the mail” months after he promised to send it.
First question: When was it mailed?
In the time between Trump’s phone call to Mr. Baldridge to October 18th, when The Washington Post discovered this story, a person could have walked from D.C. to North Carolina to hand deliver the check.
Though something tells me if you look at the postmark on the envelope whenever that check does finally get sent (assuming it does), it’s probably going to have a date on or after October 18th. That would prove Trump was never going to send that check until after the media called him out. It’s exactly what happened back in May of 2016 when the media uncovered the fact that, despite bragging for over four months about donating $1 million to veterans groups, he hadn’t actually sent them a check, either. It was only after that story made headlines that Trump finally donated the money.
None of this should surprise anyone considering David Fahrenthold reported last year that while Trump often likes to brag about how much he donates to charity, after calling over 420 different charities with some sort of connection to Trump over the past decade, The Washington Post only found one personal gift he had given to the Police Athletic League of New York City for $10,000.
While I’m sure his supporters will spin or ignore all of this like they always do — after all, if mocking POWs didn’t turn them against him, nothing will — those of us who choose to live in reality and see Trump for the fraud that he is know the truth.
The truth is, no president has disrespected our military, our veterans, and the families of those who’ve served this nation, more than Donald Trump.