Continuing his long-running pattern of dissing the U.S. military, Trump shrugged when asked about the crash of the USS John McCain.
Donald Trump is scheduled to address the nation Monday night to unveil his new plan to try to win the 16-year war in Afghanistan. The strategy may include an escalation of combat, with Trump sending more U.S. troops to put their lives at risk. But that hasn’t stopped Trump from snubbing the military, which has become a long-running pattern of his.
Trump’s latest apparent cold shoulder came Sunday night in the wake of news that the Navy destroyer the USS John McCain had slammed into merchant vessel east of Singapore. Ten sailors were reported missing. The mid-sea collision came two months after the USS Fitzgerald collided with container ship in Japanese waters. That crash left seven crew members dead.
Asked about the USS McCain news as Trump returned from his golf-heavy, 17-day vacation Sunday, he simply responded, “That’s too bad.” He was asked before the 10 sailors were announced missing.
The condemnations to Trump’s casual and off-handed response were swift. From former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Steven Pifer:
No words. He is commander-in-chief. https://t.co/TteT286uju
— Steven Pifer (@steven_pifer) August 21, 2017
And from veterans:
— VoteVets (@votevets) August 21, 2017
Two hours after shrugging, “That’s too bad,” Trump’s twitter accounted posted a message of concern about the accident, sending "thoughts and prayers."
Still, the public relations debacle was so bad that Breitbart on Monday swooped in and tried to clean up the mess, insisting bad staff work by chief of staff John Kelly and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster meant Trump hadn’t been briefed about the Navy’s disaster.
The news broke on Twitter at approximately 7:30 p.m. Trump was asked about the accident around 8:30 p.m. It’s hard to imagine he had no idea the USS McCain had suffered major damage.
Trump, who sat out the Vietnam War with a sore foot, has a long history of snubbing the military. He famously began his White House run by mocking Sen. John McCain, who was a prisoner of war during Vietnam, saying, “He’s not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”
As president, Trump has gone six months without tweeting about any of the 20-plus U.S. soldiers who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan this year. Instead, Trump has used Twitter to rage about the media and pick fights with his enemies. That is, when he's not too busy golfing.