As everyone is now aware, four U.S. Army Special Forces soldiers were killed last week in the African nation of Niger. This tragedy spurred a flurry of questions as to the nature of the mission that requires the presence of over 1,000 U.S. military personnel in the first place. These questions, now being asked by increasing numbers of Congressional members in the coming weeks and months, will surely lead to yet another series of investigations. Hopefully, the questions generated by the loss of four American soldiers will bring a renewed level of scrutiny to our far-flung military operations. However, in an immediate sense, our crass and inept President’s handling of a condolence call has sparked a heated public controversy now ready to enter in to its second week.
President Donald J. Trump’s Call to Widow Myeshia Johnson
Some weeks ago, Sgt. La David Johnson was among a dozen man team of a U.S. Army Special Forces contingent supporting a thirty man unit of troops from the African Republic of Niger conducting ground operations in the country. In an ambush by ISIS-affiliated fighters, the Special Forces personnel engaged in a firefight during the course of which Sgt. Johnson and three of his fellow team members were killed.
When the story broke, it assumed national proportions. One series of questions revolved around why our President had apparently not called the Gold Star families of the soldiers who had been slain. In characteristic fashion, President Trump released a series of statements that were, as was later revealed, either misleading or wholly false. He claimed he had written letters–he hadn’t. He claimed that he had called “all or virtually all” of the families of those who lost their lives in service during the course of his Presidency. He further claimed he had issued a check for $25,000 to a Gold Star father though, as the father revealed he had yet to receive a check two weeks after the President’s claim.
But the story which has garnered the most attention is that of Sgt. Johnson’s wife, Myeshia. Twenty-four years of age and with two small children, Mrs. Johnson was en route to recover her husband’s remains. In her vehicle with Florida Congresswoman, Frederica Wilson-a family friend of long duration–when her phone rang. The call came from President Donald J. Trump. The call was intended to be a condolence call, yet it all went wrong. The President, whose lack of empathy for others, bent toward shameless self-promotion and egocentricity (it’s always all about him), and seeming inability to command nuance or sensitivity, of course botched the call horribly.
Among other misplaced comments, the President remarked about how Sgt. Johnson knew what he signed up for. What kind of asinine dip makes such a remark to a 24 year old woman with two children whose husband has just been killed in combat and who is en route to recover his body? Donald J. Trump, that’s who. As she would later note, the President couldn’t recall her husband’s name, a fact which reduced her to tears.
Trump further claimed that, unlike his predecessors, he called families of the fallen, a claim proven to also be completely false. Former Presidents Obama and Bush, notably, took thinly-veiled jabs at Trump for this and other claims during the course of the week.
Chief of Staff Kelly Further Adds Additional Injury to Insult
In an attempt to mollify those offended and deal with yet another public relations crisis created by his boss, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly took the podium for a press conference.
Kelly began by commenting that he thought, he just thought some things were still sacred, among them he noted three things;
- Gold Star Families
Kelly, himself a Gold Star father who lost a son in Afghanistan, held some moral high ground and could claim some authority in this domain. Furthermore, he is a four-star Marine Corps General who served his country well and for many years. Yet, having drawn his virtual lines in the sand he went on to squander his authority as he attacked two women; a Gold Star wife and a U.S. Congresswoman–the later he attacked by asserting a series of claims which were subsequently proven false. He accused Congresswoman Wilson of “listening in” to Trump’s phone call. This was something, according to Kelly, no one should ever do….and then he went on to note that he was next to President Trump when he made his scurrilous call.
That a four-star Marine Corps General would debase himself on behalf of our draft-dodging, mountebank of a President is deeply troubling. The lying is unprecedented, the debasement of high office, unacceptable.
The scenario is typical: Make a Statement, Lie to Cover it, Attack those who Question. This is the modus operandi in the Trump White House.
The Mountebank in Charge Doubles Down
Amid the public furor that his ineptitude and crassness has unleashed, Trump doubles down. He went on to attack Congresswoman Wilson repeatedly, disputing her accounts of his so-called condolence call. When the Mrs. Johnson corroborated Congresswoman Wilson’s version of the call he went on to basically call her a liar.
Now, a young grieving widow, the wife of an American soldier who lost his life in service to country has to–on top of everything else–deal with the Commander-in-Chief calling her a liar. This is life in Trumpistan. If you are okay with your President’s conduct it’s surely time to check yourself.