Trump can deny his animosity until the cows come home but he remains unable to articulate real respect for those who have served. Recall the scene in “A Very Stable Genius,” by Post reporters Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig, in which Trump called the service chiefs “a bunch of dopes and babies” and barked, “You’re all losers. You don’t know how to win anymore.” Trump did it all over again at a Monday news conference.
He insisted (contrary to polling) that the rank and file troops are in love with him. However, he declared, “The top people in the Pentagon probably aren’t because they want to do nothing but fight wars so that all of those wonderful companies — that make the bombs, and make the planes, and make everything else — stay happy. But we’re getting out of the endless wars.”
In other words, they are bloodthirsty warmongers. The notion that generals want wars reveals his utter lack of understanding of the sacred responsibility commanders have for the troops and the sacrifices their own families have endured. Only a man shamed for having avoided war could imagine that those who serve are bloodthirsty savages.
He simply cannot help himself. His niece, Mary L. Trump, reminds us that in the peculiar Trump family, military service was scorned and not celebrated. “Growing up in a mansion in Jamaica Estates in Queens, Trump heard the family criticize those who joined the military instead of going into business. Trump and his father, Fred Trump Sr., were especially harsh in criticizing the decision by Donald’s older brother, Fred Jr., to join the U.S. Air National Guard‚” my colleague Michael Kranish reported, quoting Mary Trump. “My father was frequently ridiculed for his career choices and disparaged for serving our country by both his father and by his brother Donald,” Mary Trump said.
Trump not only resents those who serve but also is at a loss to understand concepts like honor, discipline, sacrifice and loyalty. He thinks pardoning war criminals will make him popular with men and women in uniform who have sworn to uphold the Constitution and live by the military code of conduct. (Likewise, he thinks it will impress decent and law-abiding police officers when he says they should not “be too nice” putting suspects in patrol cars.) Likewise, he once thought his cheering for war crimes — bombing the wives and family members of terrorists — would be impressive, until soon-to-be secretary of defense James Mattis set him straight.
Trump reminds one of someone trying to fake fluency in a foreign language. Over and over, he makes glaring errors because he has no idea what he is talking about.
At this point, only the most committed cult members believe Trump’s denials. The rest of us can see and hear him for ourselves. Trump’s enormous ego and his shameful conduct when asked to serve mean he can never accord our military men and women — at whatever rank — the respect they deserve.