Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Even Worse than Cold Comfort

The liar in chief sure inspires some great art, as I've said before. Here's one from his current conflagration:

The guy is such a narcissist that he can't even comfort someone like a human being. As Dave Roberts said on Twitter today, the presidency has two components, Ruling and Serving. Trump thought it would all be Ruling, and he has no capacity for Serving. (Of course, he doesn't have capacity to Rule in any effective way, either — thank goodness — but he really really sucks at Serving.)

On the subject of his uncomforting and insulting words to Myeshia Johnson, widow of a Green Beret killed in Niger, I at first had more of a reaction to the second part ("but I guess it still hurts") than the first part ("He knew what he signed up for").  But I guess it still hurts? That is so vacuous and denigrating.

But that was before I read a tweet storm by a veteran named Brandon Friedman, who points out that assuming service members "know what they signed up for" and should have expected death shows how little Trump (and I) know about people who serve in the military:

I did two tours in combat as an infantry officer and I never met a soldier who thought dying was a reasonable result of their service.

Take the numbers: Since 9/11, roughly 1 out of every 5,000 troops to serve in Iraq or Afghanistan died there. I'll say that again: 1. Out of every 5,000. Dying in combat is neither common nor expected.

But when things *do* get dicey, troops expect leaders (at every level) to do everything in their power to keep death from happening. Take roadside bombs. When they began killing U.S. troops, President Bush never said, "they knew what they signed up for." Instead, DoD designed MRAPs. It was a concerted effort to keep more people from getting killed unnecessarily.

And that's what keeps troops going. The knowledge that your life is valuable. That it's not to be wasted…. After a KIA, no one in the military ever, EVER, says "he knew what he signed up for." Instead they reflect. "What could we have done differently? How could we have prevented this from happening?" No one shrugs death off as an inevitability.

So when we have a Commander in Chief respond to a combat death with, "he knew what he signed up for," it tells us a few things. First, it tells us the President has no idea how the military works or what his role and responsibilities are. More importantly, it sends this message to troops: If you're looking for support from the White House, you know what you signed up for.
And then he lied about having said it, of course. Because that's what he does. As if anyone else would be able to make up those stupid, stupid words but him.

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