Trump’s Support of the Military Comes with a Catch
President Trump doesn’t have the greatest track record when it comes to honoring people other than himself. The president kicked off Mother’s Day by releasing a hostage-style video tribute to women throughout history, and then spent the rest of the day at one of his golf properties tweeting about saving Chinese jobs. Trump fared even worse on Memorial Day, when he saw dead soldiers as an opportunity for some early morning self-aggrandizement.
Happy Memorial Day! Those who died for our great country would be very happy and proud at how well our country is doing today. Best economy in decades, lowest unemployment numbers for Blacks and Hispanics EVER (& women in 18years), rebuilding our Military and so much more. Nice!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 28, 2018
One of the pillars of Trump’s appeal has been his support for the troops, which he has touted repeatedly since announcing his candidacy in 2015. He makes frequent appearances with the military and their families, as he did recently when he signed an executive order designed to increase the hiring of military spouses. Referencing the spending bill he signed earlier this year, Trump erroneously told those in attendance that military personnel would be getting a raise for the first time in 10 years. (Though the military will see a pay increase as a result of the bill, pay has increased every year since 1983.)
On Tuesday morning, Trump tweeted that he needs to start focusing on issues like “VA Choice” and “rebuilding the military” rather than the Russia investigation, which he spent most of the morning criticizing. A few hours after renewing his focus on the issues, Trump attacked the “Fake Mainstream Media.”
Despite the tweets, photo ops and executive orders, Trump’s support for the military has proven to be largely conditional. As long as the troops support him, he will support them back. If they don’t, then he will attack them. In the summer of 2015, Trump responded to criticism from John McCain by questioning the veteran’s status as a war hero. “He was a war hero because he was captured,” Trump said. “I like people who weren’t captured.” Later in the campaign, after Gold Star father Khizr Khan delivered an impassioned speech calling out Trump for having “sacrificed nothing and no one,” the future president criticized Khan and his wife, whose son died in 2004 while serving overseas.
Nor was it a good look in 2017 when the president blocked on Twitter the veterans’ organization VoteVets, which had been critical of several Trump proposals. VoteVets is a notable pro-LBGT veterans group, and earlier this year the Trump administration announced it would ban transgender Americans from serving in the military. Following Monday’s tweet, the organization offered some harsh words for the president.
This is the most inappropriate #MemorialDay comment that a @POTUS has ever made. Self-promotion on a day to remember the fallen, and wishing those remembering their deceased loved ones a “happy” holiday is appalling. #CadetBoneSpurs pic.twitter.com/kRse4dnwiu
— VoteVets (@votevets) May 28, 2018
The #CadetBoneSpurs hashtag is a reference to the last of five draft deferments Trump received during the Vietnam War. Though the first four were related to education, the fifth deferment was medical, citing bone spurs that Trump has since called “minor” and “temporary.” During a campaign event in the summer of 2016, a retired lieutenant colonel gave Trump his Purple Heart. “I always wanted to get the Purple Heart,” Trump said of the gesture. “This was much easier.”
Trump’s Memorial Day tweet also led many to point out that he has yet to visit troops in a war zone since taking office. President Obama visited soldiers in Iraq three months after being inaugurated in 2009, and would go on to make eight trips to Afghanistan during his two terms. President Bush made four trips to Iraq and two trips to Afghanistan over the course of his presidency, according to Axios.
Trump wasn’t the only Republican politician to endure a rough Memorial Day. Former New York City Mayor and current presidential Witch Hunt surrogate Rudy Giuliani was booed lustily at Yankee Stadium when it was announced over the PA that he was attendance to celebrate his 74th birthday.
@Yankees fans boo @RudyGiuliani on his birthday pic.twitter.com/e6FeFxk2FH
— Muck Savage (@the_irishpsycho) May 28, 2018
The Yankees lost the game 5-1.
Elsewhere in ominous in-game politician sightings, Texas Senator Ted Cruz was spotted court-side as the Houston Rockets took on the Golden State Warriors Monday night for a trip to the NBA Finals. Though the Rockets built a sizable lead, they were eliminated from the playoffs after a second half collapse in which they bricked an NBA-record 27 consecutive three pointers.