[Rushtalk] the Guardian on Trump vs Military
lynux at keepandbeararms.com
Wed Mar 2 08:50:02 MST 2016
Donald Trump's disrespect for the military is appalling – and
So far, Trump has only insulted, abused and patronized service members
and veterans on the trail. That’s no way to win our support
No, Donald Trump, attending a behavior modification military academy
doesn’t make you a combat veteran. Photograph: Richard Ellis/Getty
Monday 29 February 2016 17.39 GMT Last modified on Monday 29 February
2016 17.50 GMT
Donald Trump has disparaged many a group – most recently, he refused to
flat-out denounce white supremacy – but his transgressions against the
military have been less remarked upon.
The disrespect that the Republican frontrunner for the presidential
nomination has consistently shown towards veterans and service members
is unprecedented, especially for a member of the party that, at least
nominally, prides itself on being more supportive of the troops.
On Friday, on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, former head of the CIA
and NSA Michael Hayden said that the American armed forces would “refuse
to act” if a President Trump actually gave some of the orders that he’s
been proposing on the campaign trail. Troops are required to refuse
unlawful orders (as would be Trump’s proposed targeting of terrorists’
family members), but the statement reveals a deep antipathy that the
defense establishment harbors for Trump. It’s an antipathy that I share
as a former US army infantry soldier.
Trump’s disrespect of veterans began long before the current election
cycle. On the Howard Stern show back in 1997, sandwiched in between a
bunch of embarrassing comments about women, Trump compared his sex life
in the 1980s to a war experience.
“I’ve been so lucky in terms of that whole world. It is a dangerous
world out there – it’s scary, like Vietnam. Sort of like the Vietnam
era. It is my personal Vietnam. I feel like a great and very brave
soldier,” Trump bloviated. And while it’s true that being crass and
disgusting is the entire point of the Howard Stern show, for someone who
wants to be commander-in-chief of the armed forces to indulge himself by
denigrating the war experiences of veterans is beyond the pale.
A bruising day on Planet Trump
Trump has no way to know if dating has anything in common with combat,
because he was a draft dodger. As Tim Mak wrote in the Daily Beast:
“When Trump had the chance to join the military and fight in Vietnam, he
did not take it. Instead, the rich kid got multiple student deferments
from the draft and a medical deferment.”
Trump continued to inappropriately compare his civilian experiences to
military ones since the Howard Stern appearance. Last year Trump told a
biographer that he “always felt like I had been in the military” because
of his time at the New York Military Academy, an expensive
military-themed boarding school where Trump’s parents sent him because
of behavioral problems.
That might be a uniquely idiotic statement from someone running for
president, but it’s an attitude that, as a veteran, I’ve seen before.
There’s always a guy at the bar sloppily explaining to you how he was in
Junior Officer Training Corps during high school so, you know, he gets
it. That guy should never run for office either.
A telltale sign that Trump does not actually know what it feels like to
be in the military is his denigration of POWs. Last July at the Family
Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa, Trump said of Arizona senator and
former Vietnam POW John McCain: “He’s not a war hero. He’s not a war
hero because he was captured. I don’t like people who were captured.”
Who would want to go to war for a President Trump knowing that if you
were captured in the heat of battle your commander-in-chief wouldn’t
When Trump does gesture at supporting the troops, it rings hollow. He
offers six figures to buy veterans groups as props to use during
campaign rallies, as if risking life and limb for your country can be
monetized. And his ads that are meant to show respect to veterans
probably shouldn’t feature images of Soviet and Nazi soldiers rather
than American troops. To lift one of Trump’s own favorite words: it’s
Hayden was quick to point out on Friday that the armed forces wouldn’t
foment a rebellion against Trump; they’d just refuse to obey unlawful
orders. Nevertheless, it was a big statement that took even the usually
nonplussed Bill Maher by surprise.
It shouldn’t have. For all his talk about leadership, something that
Trump fails to understand is that real leadership is predicated upon
respecting the people that you want to follow you. So far, Trump has
only insulted, abused and patronized service members and veterans. It’s
shocking that these kinds of tactics have gotten him this close to the
White House, but it will never earn him the respect of the armed forces.
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