REPORT: Trump Repeatedly Held Wounded And Dead Military Members In Utter Contempt
Donald Trump, Mike Pence, and then-Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and his family at the grave of Kelly's son, Marine Corps Second Lt. Robert Kelly on Memorial Day, 2017.Credit: Getty Images
September 3, 2020

It continues to seem incongruous that Donald Trump's popularity is strongest among parts of the population he holds in disdain. Poor white people still cling to him like he's their savior, yet, he wouldn't be caught dead socializing with anyone he deemed below his economic strata. He enjoys a lot of support among members of the military, though Trump's popularity in the military is eroding. When more of them learn of Jeffrey Goldberg's reporting that Trump openly holds them in contempt, that may be the final straw.

According to Goldberg's piece in The Atlantic, Trump's attitude towards service members goes beyond confusion about why anyone would serve their country if it was difficult and might be dangerous — especially if it wasn't going to make them rich. He actually disparages and disdains those who have been injured, captured, tortured, or killed.

To Trump, George H.W. Bush was a "loser" for getting shot down in World War II. We all know how he felt about Sen. John McCain. He was infuriated when the flags were lowered to half-mast. "What the fuck are we doing that for? Guy was a fucking loser,” he apparently raged to aides in the room. And Goldberg tells this astonishing story of the Commander in Chief insulting the memory of General John Kelly's son, who'd died in combat in Afghanistan — directly to John Kelly as they stood at his son's gravesite.

On Memorial Day 2017, Trump visited Arlington National Cemetery, a short drive from the White House. He was accompanied on this visit by John Kelly, who was then the secretary of homeland security, and who would, a short time later, be named the White House chief of staff. The two men were set to visit Section 60, the 14-acre area of the cemetery that is the burial ground for those killed in America’s most recent wars. Kelly’s son Robert is buried in Section 60. A first lieutenant in the Marine Corps, Robert Kelly was killed in 2010 in Afghanistan. He was 29. Trump was meant, on this visit, to join John Kelly in paying respects at his son’s grave, and to comfort the families of other fallen service members. But according to sources with knowledge of this visit, Trump, while standing by Robert Kelly’s grave, turned directly to his father and said, “I don’t get it. What was in it for them?” Kelly (who declined to comment for this story) initially believed, people close to him said, that Trump was making a ham-handed reference to the selflessness of America’s all-volunteer force. But later he came to realize that Trump simply does not understand non-transactional life choices.

“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.”

It's hard to comprehend the evil that motivates such a man. The callousness. But if you have any doubt about it, understand that not only does he consider his hair more important than paying tribute to the fallen Marines in a cherished ceremony in France, when making preparations for a military parade, he took pains to make sure that wounded veterans or veterans who'd lost limbs would not be permitted to participate or be honored.

Trump has been, for the duration of his presidency, fixated on staging military parades, but only of a certain sort. In a 2018 White House planning meeting for such an event, Trump asked his staff not to include wounded veterans, on grounds that spectators would feel uncomfortable in the presence of amputees. “Nobody wants to see that,” he said.

Twitter was unsurprised but revolted.

Here's an entire thread of Trump's attacks on the military via Charlotte Clymer:

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