Day 1,323: Report: Trump on fallen American service members: they’re ‘suckers’ and ‘losers’
Donald Trump has always used the military as props to be used at his disposal. Whether forcing expensive flyovers, needless parades, or engineering situations to have military members in uniform near him during highly inappropriate times, Trump has politicized the military like few presidents before him.
And yet, it doesn’t seem to be working, as active duty military members have moved away from Trump and the GOP over the past four years.
Perhaps that’s no shock, as Trump’s manipulation and disdain for them and their work — including his treating four-star generals Jim Mattis and John Kelly like lapdogs, his non-stop insults regarding John McCain’s time as a POW and his disrespect for gold star families— have become readily apparent at every turn.
That makes Thursday’s bombshell report from The Atlantic less surprising, but still stunning in its cavalier attitude and open insensitivity toward military members who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
In November 2018, Trump skipped honoring fallen World War I service members in France, quite clearly, because he was afraid of his hair getting wet. It turns out that wasn’t the only reason he didn’t want to go. The dead Americans were “losers” and “suckers,” according to Trump.
Trump rejected the idea of the visit because he feared his hair would become disheveled in the rain, and because he did not believe it important to honor American war dead, according to four people with firsthand knowledge of the discussion that day. In a conversation with senior staff members on the morning of the scheduled visit, Trump said, “Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers.” In a separate conversation on the same trip, Trump referred to the more than 1,800 marines who lost their lives at Belleau Wood as “suckers” for getting killed.
It turns out that Trump didn’t even know who the “good guys” in the war were and questioned the U.S.’s involvement.
But Trump, on that same trip, asked aides, “Who were the good guys in this war?” He also said that he didn’t understand why the United States would intervene on the side of the Allies.
On top of all that, Trump has shown zero growth on any of these topics in nearly four years in office.
Trump’s understanding of heroism has not evolved since he became president. According to sources with knowledge of the president’s views, he seems to genuinely not understand why Americans treat former prisoners of war with respect. Nor does he understand why pilots who are shot down in combat are honored by the military. On at least two occasions since becoming president, according to three sources with direct knowledge of his views, Trump referred to former President George H. W. Bush as a “loser” for being shot down by the Japanese as a Navy pilot in World War II.
Standing over the grave of John Kelly’s son, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2010, Trump turned to Kelly and said, “I don’t get it. What was in it for them?”
“He can’t fathom the idea of doing something for someone other than himself,” one of Kelly’s friends, a retired four-star general, told me. “He just thinks that anyone who does anything when there’s no direct personal gain to be had is a sucker. There’s no money in serving the nation.” Kelly’s friend went on to say, “Trump can’t imagine anyone else’s pain. That’s why he would say this to the father of a fallen marine on Memorial Day in the cemetery where he’s buried.”
Trump famously dodged military service in Vietnam on account of, very likely fake, bone spurs. Rather than showing an iota of respect for those captured, wounded or killed while serving the country, Trump mocks them for losing their time, health or life for their fellow Americans.
1,323 days in, 139 to go