President Donald Trump says he loves and respects the troops. He loves the military, he says. He admires the military. He wanted a parade for Veterans Day, to honor the troops, he tells us. The reason he, and many of his allies, object to Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the national anthem is because that shows disrespect for the flag, the troops, the vets and the country. Never mind a vet suggested this exact method of protest to Kaepernick.
And until THIS PAST WEEKEND, he might have had some ground to stand on. However, the actions of this president over the course of the Veterans Day weekend were very telling as to his true feelings regarding the troops. This president refused to go to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial while in France to celebrate the 100 years of the armistice that ended World War One. That cemetery which sits right by Belleau Wood. It is the final resting place of US troops who perished at the Western front during the Great War. The battle of Belleau Wood is where the Marines earned their monicker of Devil Dogs and it was one of the most important battles of the Great War for American forces.
Other national leaders visited places like the Somme, which saw a bloodletting not seen or for that matter Flanders Field, where the tradition of wearing the red poppy on this day comes from.
This year Armistice Day fell on the 100th anniversary of the end of that conflict, and coincidentally it also was the United States Marine Corp birthday. It was a historic event. One that a statesman would have made a point to be, and represent his nation. The president of the United States decided that a little rain was enough to stop him from carrying out the most basic of ceremonial duties, which are part of the job. We could say that he was afraid of a little rain.
I guess his hair could not take it. Perhaps the weather made those bone spurs hurt. They kept him away from those muggy and deadly Vietnam jungles. We all know real men do not go out in the rain, and leaders cancel events because of things like this. It is not like every other European leader attended these events….oh wait, they did. They understood the significance of the weekend. They have a historic memory that this president lacks. And the troops that fought at those battlefields, did so in rain, snow, drizzle, and gas. They did their duty. Their ghosts likely shook their heads, as their current commander in chief remained in a hotel room, warm, dry and watching tv.
But it got worse. The White House came with many shifting reasons as to why the president could not carry his basic ceremonial duties that come with the office. First, it was Marine One could not fly in the rain. I am sure more than a few pilots quietly chuckled. Then it was the ever so popular traffic jam in Paris. Finally, he blamed the secret service which refused to take the president to his destination.
The secret service was likely not too concerned about a few drops of water. They are consummate professionals, and the president blaming them is childish at best. It was the ultimate (I am sure this too will be surpassed, and soon) in shifting blame.
Though, this was not a mistake by the president. It was calculated.
It was followed by neither the president or vice-president, showing up at Arlington National Cemetery for Veterans Day, which is unprecedented. Who came to lay a reef at the tomb of the unknown soldier? Representatives of the French government. Why? This is the one hundred year anniversary of the end of World War One.
Trump missed other ceremonies during this trip to France. He insulted American allies and smiled at strong men. It is as if he cares any more about the message he sends As to the allies, President Emmanuel Macron called him for reviving the ghosts of nationalism during one of the few ceremonies Trump attended. They have decided to move on and whatever happens to the US under Trump will happen. It is clear this president has no interest in keeping alliances that have greatly benefited the United States for the last seventy years.
The silence from Trump’s allies and defenders is deafening regarding this. Do I loathe the game of what if former President Barack Obama had done anything close to this? I am betting they would be demanding apologies, impeachment even. Yet, they remain utterly silent. It speaks volumes to their true values.
These same defenders are critical of black men taking a knee as a form of protest, never mind the president disrespected the troops, the country, the vets, and active duty personnel. They hate silent respectful protests because it shows that they have no moral low ground to stand on. And to make things starker, vets face homelessness due to a snafu at the same Veterans Administration raked over the coals by conservatives under the Obama administration. The difference is that this was then, this us now.
If you want us to take any Trump republicans seriously, it is time for some serious self-reflection. What happened in Paris and Arlington was unprecedented. However, in this crazy administration, this is Tuesday. I expect even more violations of common decency and standards.
Oh, and it is time to stop using the troops as political props as well.