The man is simply amazing just by the way he talks. There are perhaps only a handful of people he likes, but for those he does not, they better watch out. There is not a word in the vocabulary that Donald Trump has not thrown around, four-letter words often being the order of the day at the White House. Over the years, he has disparaged enemies and short-lived friends as a bunch of good-for-nothings and if by chance a lady got on his wrong side she was usually referred to as short, fat, ugly, nasty, rude, to mention a few. In fact, Trump ran into trouble during the course of the 2016 campaign when he was to have boasted that he could grab any woman by her “p***y” leaving some to derisively label the Grand Old Party (GOP) as “Grabbers of P***y.” All of this was brushed off as some boorish boy’s locker room gossip.
Just when the national and battleground states polls seem to be tightening, Trump has landed himself in trouble, big time, thanks to an article in The Atlantic that speaks of the President referring to American Marines who died in France during World War One as “losers” and “suckers.” For a person who has not served his time in the armed forces on account of deferments, he had on medical reasons at the time of the Vietnam War, Trump does not seem to understand the significance and honor with which men and women don their uniform; and why the armed forces feel deep anguish when a soldier is lost, wounded or worse captured behind enemy lines. In a visit to France in 2018, Trump did not go to the Aisne-Mame American cemetery near Paris blaming the weather and that the “helicopter couldn’t fly” and the Secret Service would not drive him to the place.
“Neither claim was true. Trump rejected the idea of the visit because he feared his hair would become dishevelled in the rain, and because he did not believe it important to honour American war dead, according to four people with firsthand knowledge of the discussion that day,” writes Jeffrey Goldberg in the Atlantic. “Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers,” the President is said to have remarked going on to call the more than 1,800 marines who lost their lives at Belleau Woods as “suckers” for getting killed, according to the columnist who has based his report on highly placed sources.
Unnamed senior administration officials have been quoted several times in published works that President Trump’s knowledge of history and geography is extremely limited; and shows very little patience when anything is being explained. He is known to have got in fits of rage when he sees a serious staffer engaged in note-taking. “Are you f***ing taking notes” is apparently what the President has shouted at aides. In the context of the present, Trump did not know why American soldiers died and why the United States fought on the side of the allies. It appears that Trump’s idea of losers and suckers stems from his philosophy that everything has to be deduced to profit and loss or dollars and cents; and that anyone who did not make a buck is either a loser or a sucker.
Politically, Trump’s narrow and limited understanding of the men and women in uniform has lent him a platform to attack George Herbert Walker Bush and Senator John McCain, the former a “loser” for having been shot down by the Japanese in World War Two but escaped capture; and the latter a “f***in” loser for being held as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. Perhaps, in Trump’s point of view, McCain would have been a hero if he had not joined the armed forces or had not been captured. So venal was Trump that upon the Arizona Senator’s demise in 2018, he wanted no part of Official America to be involved in the funeral and was furious that flags were being flown at half-mast. “What the f**k are we doing that for? Guy was a f***ing loser,” the President is reported to have told his assistants. The dislike of the armed forces was not limited to Bush or McCain but in general, to all those who wore the uniform, it appears. In fact, at a high-secure meeting of the top military brass in the Pentagon at a room called the Tank, Trump is said to have lashed out the men in uniform. “I want to win. I wouldn’t go to war with you people. You’re a bunch of dopes and babies,” the President is said to have remarked.
For that matter, Trump does not seem to understand the functioning of the Intelligence Agencies like the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Central Intelligence Agency and treats those working for these units with utter disdain and contempt. And much of this had to do with the intelligence agencies broadly coming to the conclusion that Russia meddled in the 2016 election to favour Trump; and refuses to hear them out this 2020 election season as well that Moscow is once again up to mischief. It all stems from a perception that everyone one is out to “get” him, especially if top bureaucrats in sensitive agencies do not dance to the tunes of the President. And if top officials do not share the same idea as that of Trump, the suggestion to them has been to “go back to school.”
The President has vehemently denied calling fallen soldiers as “losers” or “suckers;” and The Atlantic stands by the report. In fact, Trump has gone on to make the point now that he had never called Senator McCain a “loser.” And the administration has been quick to stress that the President has done so much for the military. “This report is false. President Trump holds the military in the highest regard. He’s demonstrated his commitment to them at every turn: delivering on his promise to give our troops a much-needed pay raise, increasing military spending, signing critical veteran’s reforms, and supporting military spouses. This has no basis in fact,” a White House spokesperson has said.
What has rattled and upset many is that President Trump is entering a highly sensitive area that cuts across political affiliation. The armed forces have been kept on a pedestal by Republican and Democratic Presidents; and while there may have been an occasional difference of opinion between civilian and military leaders in the establishment, no American leader has seen their army, navy, air force or the marines as soldiers of fortune waiting to make a quick buck.
(The writer was a former senior journalist in Washington D.C. covering North America and the United Nations).
(The Federal seeks to present views and opinions from all sides of the spectrum. The information, ideas or opinions in the articles are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Federal).