President Trump took to Twitter this afternoon to congratulate his Veterans’ Affairs Secretary David Shulkin for all the “tremendous progress” they have made in “such a short time” in office, along with a campy video showing the President signing various pieces of legislation.
We will not rest until all of America’s GREAT VETERANS can receive the care they so richly deserve. Tremendous progress has been made in a short period of time. Keep up the great work @SecShulkin @DeptVetAffairs! https://t.co/ir25vW15hx pic.twitter.com/OtuzIgxMn6
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 2, 2018
The lengths to which Trump and his team are grasping at straws to congratulate himself are obvious during the final two slides, which celebrate his proclaiming November to be “Veterans Remembrance Month” and proclaiming a day of remembrance for Pearl Harbor.
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The superficial and ultimately meaningless displays of pandering towards our military veterans and their families is a staple of the Trumpian “MAGA” brand, a critical part of the grotesque tapestry of cultural signifiers and racist dog whistles that make up the worldview of American conservatives.
The empty words from the President were not lost on Will Fischer, the Director of Government Relations at the VoteVets.org veterans advocacy organization, who quickly took to Twitter to set the record straight:
This is a lie. @realDonaldTrump and @SecShulkin are only working tirelessly at trying to destroy & privatize our @DeptVetAffairs. They are working to allow billionaires to profit off wounds of war. https://t.co/ZtD9b0h8vg
— Will Fischer (@will_c_fischer) January 2, 2018
Secretary Shulkin has made it clear that he wants to take the cruel, exploitative, and enormously inefficient privatized healthcare model that has condemned untold numbers of Americans to early deaths because they can’t afford coverage and apply it to our veterans healthcare coverage.
“The direction I’m taking this is to give veterans more choice in their care, and be the decision maker for their care, which I fundamentally believe is a concept that has to be implemented,” said Shulkin in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.
We live in a nation where otherwise healthy young men are literally dying because they can’t come up with $50 to pay for their insulin. One shudders to think of how our veterans might be treated under a for-profit system that puts the needs of shareholders ahead of the men and women who risked their lives to serve their country.
On top of that, President Trump’s past actions tell you all you need to know about how he really feels about our military men and women.
A few weeks ago, the President used a racial slur while ostensibly honoring the Navajo Code Talkers that were vital to Allied communication efforts during the Second World War; shortly before that, he engaged in a feud with the widow of a slain Green Beret over his callous “condolence” call to her.
On top of this latest feud, Trump has insulted a Gold Star family and demeaned a Muslim war hero, slammed Sen. John McCain for getting shot down and spending five years in a POW camp, told women in the military they were responsible for their own sexual assaults, saying that only weak veterans get PTSD, and screwed veterans’ charities out of at least $3 million.
Actions speak louder than words – and President Trump’s actions make it clear that our veterans mean nothing to him beyond a convenient political prop.