It’s amazing that President Trump’s base of alienated blue-collar whites, including many veterans among them, bought his empty rhetoric about his support of the military. Here, after all, is a man who studiously avoided military service and likely deployment to the Vietnam War by claiming a deferment based on supposed “bone spurs” that haven’t seemed to prevent him from playing golf at every available opportunity.
Yet, outside of his on again-off again calls for inflating the military budget further beyond its already dizzying heights and his misleadingly criticism of kneeling NFL players as somehow denigrating the armed forces, Trump has done little to express any respect whatsoever towards the military and, in fact, has done much to show outright disrespect for both active duty service members and veterans.
From his failure to visit an American military cemetery in France during the Armistice Day memorial because of rain, to his push against funding a bill passed to expand veterans’ health care, to his public denigration of the late Senator John McCain for having been captured as a prisoner of war, to his multiple attacks on Gold Star families who have lost loved ones in combat, President Trump has consistently abdicated the traditional responsibilities normally associated with the role of Commander-in-Chief.
No aspect of his failure to properly execute his duties towards the armed forces, however, has stood out like his unprecedented refusal to visit active-duty troops on the front lines of combat in the many places where America inexplicably continues to wage war, including Afghanistan and Iraq.
President Trump’s dereliction of his duties towards the military has been so brazen that the editorial board of The New York Times felt compelled to write a plea for him to essentially get off his lazy butt and properly assume the role of Commander-in-Chief.
Titled with the imperative: “Put Down the Golf Clubs, Visit the Troops,” the editorial points out that while Trump has been happy to use the armed forces as props for his fight to support his anti-immigration agenda and for his proposed totalitarian-style grand military parade, he still presents nothing but lame excuses when asked about his plans to emulate every one of his predecessors in visiting troops in a morale-building gesture.
“So far, he’s all talk and no boots on the ground,” The Times rightly notes.
The newspaper contrasts the 75-degree weather in Palm Beach, Florida where Trump will spend a 16-day vacation over the holidays with the 40-degree temperature in Kabul, Afghanistan where thousands of U.S. troops have been deployed in one of the longest missions in American history. It also lists the various excuses the President has given for his noticeable inability to complete this facet of his job.
“There have been numerous and conflicting explanations for why Mr. Trump has avoided visiting troops downrange — he doesn’t agree with all the conflicts and doesn’t want to be associated with them, he’s too busy, he’s scared for his safety.”
The Times editorial writers even try to detail the history of prior presidential troop visits in an effort to shame Trump into assuming the mantle of responsibility that he has shirked to date.
“Never mind that nearly every president since Dwight Eisenhower has safely visited soldiers in conflict zones from Vietnam and Korea to Iraq and Afghanistan. Barack Obama, for one, visited Iraq as a senator in 2008 and returned within his first three months in the White House. He went to Afghanistan four times.”
The newspaper gets to the heart of the reason Trump has ignored his duties to the service members overseas by pointing out the primary fault in the president’s perspective on the matter.
“What Mr. Trump’s excuses all reveal, however, is a basic misunderstanding. Visiting soldiers and sailors and Marines in the field isn’t about the president. It is about the troops. It’s about those who are close to the enemy and far from home, following orders and serving a cause greater than themselves.”
“A visit from the president isn’t just about raising morale and smiling for a few photos, though that can mean more to a young grunt than most civilians may realize. Americans want a president who isn’t afraid to look at and reflect upon the consequences of his decisions.”
While the investigations of his administration’s misdeeds come crashing down around President Trump, one would think that he would welcome an opportunity for a distraction from the stream of endless negative press by accomplishing something positive for a change.
Trump, however, is his own worst enemy. His inability to rise above his own self-interest and indolence leaves The New York Times’ call for him to personally deliver a message of gratitude to troops on the front lines an empty request that is unlikely to be fulfilled. With Trump’s popularity diving towards records lows, the desire of the troops to have Trump visit them is increasingly being called into question anyway.
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