President Donald Trump, the man called Cadet Bone Spurs by his many detractors because of his dubious excuse for his draft deferment during the Vietnam War, has never visited American troops stationed in overseas combat zones, reportedly out of fear that he will be killed.
That failure to spend time with troops on the ground has led to accusations that he disrespects the military in a far worse manner than the NFL players that he accuses of such a lack of patriotism when they kneel during the national anthem to protest police violence against minorities.
Now President Trump has demonstrated an entirely new level of disrespect for our armed forces by becoming the first president since 2002 to fail to visit troops and wounded veterans during the Christmas season.
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Not bothering to leave the cozy confines of the White House, Trump merely placed calls to members of the five different branches of the military at bases in locations from Guam and Bahrain to Qatar and Alaska.
While wishing the troops a happy holiday, he made sure to turn the calls into monologues about himself, as usual, denying collusion with Russia, defending his firing of FBI Director James Comey, and declaring that he’ll keep the government closed until he gets his money to build his ludicrous Great Wall of Immigration Control.
While Trump managed to at least go as far as Washington DC’s Walter Reed National Military Medical Center last year to visit wounded warriors, this year he broke a tradition that former President Obama managed to stay faithful to during every year of his presidency and that President George W. Bush only skipped at the outset of the Iraq War and immediately after the 9/11 attacks.
Staying faithful, naturally, is not one of Trump’s most salient qualities, as his two ex-wives and his current first lady know all too well.
His phobia about being killed while visiting overseas troops may seem a little more justified if this new slight toward the armed forces inspires an insulted renegade service member to engage in friendly fire if the president ever gathers the courage or, more likely, gets shamed into finally touring our overseas military facilities while he remains in office, an increasingly uncertain time period.
Trump may have found a way to avoid ever having to visit our combat troops since he has announced — against the advice of his advisors and without consulting Congress — that he is withdrawing U.S. forces from Syria and reducing their levels in Afghanistan.
While the idea of America having no troops engaged in foreign conflicts is certainly appealing to most Americans, the arbitrary decision to move in that direction without careful consideration of the consequences and coordination of a plan to prevent a resurgence of terrorist havens has been derided as a foolish move by a president in thrall to foreign authoritarian leaders such as President Putin of Russia and President Erdogan of Turkey.
Cadet Bone Spurs strikes again.
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Original reporting by Elyse Perlmutter-Gumbiner at NBC News.