Donald Trump’s comments about the military show that he’s only interested in self-service, writes MITCH BENN.
As I mentioned here last week, there is an ongoing deluge of tell-all books written by former associates (and indeed family members) of president Trump, detailing his various alleged excesses and misdeeds and timed, one can’t help but suppose, not only to maximise sales of the works in question but also to do as much damage as possible to the president’s chances of re-election. There’s even a glossy TV mini-series based on James Comey’s memoir, starring a very convincing Brendan Gleeson as Trump and Jeff Daniels as Comey, who while he conveys Comey’s uptight decency is a good five inches shorter than the man himself. Where was Liam Neeson, one wonders.
You might also recall that I expressed my doubts as to whether this second objective – impeding Trump’s re-election – could be achieved; that whatever depredation one might accuse the president of, his supporters will either reject it as a foul liberal calumny, or indeed applaud him on his pluck and indomitability in doing whatever he pleases.
However, since I expressed that particular ha’porth, a new scandal has emerged which actually appears to be hitting the parts of the Trump base which previous scandals could not reach. An article in the Atlantic magazine details Trump’s apparent disdain for the sacrifice made by America’s armed forces and for the whole concept of military service. According to the writer, Trump has dismissed those who volunteer to serve as ‘suckers’ and described an American military cemetery as being ‘full of losers’.
The article is landing harder than previous Trump exposés if only because, while it has caused alarm and dismay, it doesn’t really seem to have surprised many people. Since the story broke, people have been searching through Trump’s utterances to find similar examples; obviously the most egregious alleged instances (such as mentioned in the article) took place ‘off-camera’ and are, as such, deniable (and are being denied, as you can imagine).
The clip that’s been doing the most rounds is, inevitably, his public dismissal during the 2016 campaign of his old nemesis John McCain’s ‘heroism’ because ‘he got shot down’, adding ‘I prefer people who didn’t get shot down’.
I’ve remembered another incident from that campaign which, while not connected to military service, perfectly sums up Trump’s attitude to the whole notion of doing the right thing. You might remember, if you can bear to cast your mind back to the presidential debates between Trump and Hillary Clinton, a moment when Clinton raised the subject of Trump’s (still, to this day) unreleased tax returns, and mused on what undisclosed horrors might lie within. She mentioned that when a couple of years’ worth of Trump’s financial records had leaked, they showed that he had paid no federal income tax during that time. In response, Trump leaned into the mic and said ‘That makes me smart’.
Smart… Trump considers tax avoidance to the extent of getting out of paying income tax altogether as ‘smart’. By implication, therefore, he regards those who do not avoid tax, who pay their way, who contribute to the upkeep of the society whose freedoms and amenities they enjoy, as less smart. That those who care about the welfare of others are fools. Suckers. Losers.
So above and beyond the specific instances of Trump (allegedly) denigrating the sacrifice of those who serve in the military as the actions of ‘suckers’ and ‘losers’, there we have another – televised – instance of his casting the exact same judgment on anyone who contributes to a greater good.
Trump is, it would appear, so entirely motivated by self-gratification and self-aggrandisement that he’s incapable of imagining what it would be like not to be motivated by these things. The idea that someone could just be trying to do the right thing for the right thing’s sake, perhaps even at a cost to themselves, giving no thought to their own ego or material reward, is unfathomable to him.
We Remainers (we can still call ourselves that, I think, more proudly than ever just now) caught a glimpse of this phenomenon in our interactions with the ‘we won, you lost, get over it’ crowd. They couldn’t conceive that our increasingly frantic objections to the oncoming Brexit train wreck could be borne of a genuine concern for the fate of the nation; it was patently (to them) just a case of sore loserdom. Obviously the only thing that mattered to us was the fact that we’d lost the vote, because – it has become ever more apparent – the only thing that mattered to them was that they’d won.
I’m not sure where the latest Brexit fustercluck will be up to by the time you read this; as I type, the government is in the process of decrying its own ‘oven-ready’ deal as intolerable (and, it would appear, the work of someone else entirely, though they’re not specifying who).
Old wounds are being reopened, and we Remainers may find ourselves being called upon to do the right thing again, whether the opposition can comprehend it or not.