At this point, President Trump is notorious for his breathtakingly shameless abuse of the truth. Pulling facts and figures out of thin air whenever he feels like it, he rattles off falsehoods at an astonishing rate — sometimes nearly one hundred lies a day — as he seeks to force our perception of reality to bend to the delusions that he worships in his head.
There’s no line he won’t cross and no audience he won’t lie to, as he made painfully clear during his recent visit to the troops in Iraq.
Finally scolded into visiting deployed soldiers in a warzone for the first time in his presidency, Trump decided to treat the solemn occasion as an impromptu opportunity to hold one of his rallies, with all the shameless self-promoting lies that accompany it.
To the astonishment of all those assembled, Trump decided to lie to the troops about how much of a raise he had given them.
“You just got one of the biggest pay raises you’ve ever received. You haven’t gotten one in more than 10 years — more than 10 years. And we got you a big one. I got you a big one” bragged Trump to the assembled soldiers at the al-Asad airbase in western Iraq.
“They said: ‘You know, we could make it smaller. We could make it 3 percent. We could make it 2 percent. We could make it 4 percent.’ I said: ‘No. Make it 10 percent. Make it more than 10 percent. Because it’s been a long time. It’s been more than 10 years. That’s a long time. And, you know, you really put yourselves out there, and you put your lives out there. So congratulations.”
In reality, NBC News reports that Trump’s budget had given the troops a 2.6% raise last year — a far cry from the 10% that he swore he had given them. The military has received a raise every year for decades; while the raise for 2019 is the largest they’ve received in nine years, last year’s raise was 2.4% — hardly a dramatic difference.
And at the end of the day, a newly recruited private still only makes $19,659 in base pay, which is below the poverty line for a household of three.
The president’s disrespectful lies make it clear that the military is nothing but a useful prop to him to exploit and use when it suits him and that he cares nothing for the men and women who put their lives and limbs at risk to defend America’s interests overseas.
He weaponizes the patriotic fetishization of the armed forces to wage racist culture wars against NFL players and to paint his political opponents as unpatriotic, but the fact that it took him two whole years to visit the troops overseas tells you everything you need to know.
If that wasn’t enough, you could consider how 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 that, 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, said that only weak soldiers get PTSD, and screwed veterans’ charities out of at least $3 million.
Actions speak louder than words – and now both President Trump’s actions and his words make it clear that our troops mean nothing to him beyond a convenient political prop.