Trump's repugnant words and actions over the past two weeks have shown absolutely zero respect or regard for members of the military or their families.
Donald Trump has never shown the military proper respect. Whether claiming Republican Sen. John McCain is not a war hero because he was captured, sneering at the sacrifices and very identity of Gold Star parents Khizr and Ghazala Khan, or pocketing a veteran’s Purple Heart, Trump cannot be counted on to do right by the troops, even as he wraps himself in the flag and invokes our armed forces to attack people protesting him.
But the past two weeks may well have been Trump’s most disgraceful yet. He mocked, insulted, or attacked our men and women in uniform no fewer than thirteen times in the past eleven days.
Trump completely ignored the four Green Berets killed in an ambush Niger, while he and Mike Pence were busy demonizing the NFL.
He continued to ignore the fallen heroes for the next eight days, spending his time on Twitter rambling about late night talk show hosts, Columbus Day, the media, athletes who protest, and numerous other topics.
Instead of lifting up the memories of the slain soldiers, he promoted his brand by retweeting an image of himself in front of a burning American flag.
At a solemn flag ceremony, Trump joked and laughed during the playing of “Retreat” on a military base.
After McCain spoke out against Trump’s “half-baked, spurious nationalism” in regards to foreign policy, and called his agenda “unpatriotic,” Trump lashed out in response, saying that “people have to be careful because at some point I fight back.”
Trump bragged about supposedly “defeating ISIS,” again without even acknowledging the deaths of U.S. troops at the hands of ISIS affiliates days before.
In typical fashion, he went for a round of golf as the bodies of those soldiers returned home in flag-draped caskets.
When he finally did get around to discussing the soldiers, he tried to excuse his silence by claiming, “I like to call … when I’m able.”
In an attempt to defend himself after being criticized for not having called the families of the soldiers, Trump used the memory of White House chief of staff and former general John Kelly’s son, who was killed in combat, to falsely claim that President Barack Obama never comforted troops’ families.
When he finally did get around to speaking with the grieving relatives, he callously told Myeshia Johnson, the Gold Star wife of Army Sgt. La David Johnson, that her husband “signed up” to die.
When reports of that call blew up and the criticism of him amplified, Trump denied the story publicly and dared Myeshia Johnson to call him a liar.
When Florida Democratic Rep. Frederica Wilson — a long-time friend of Johnson’s family and a personal mentor of the fallen soldier, and who was with the family when they got Trump’s call — corroborated the family’s story, Trump sent Kelly out to smear and defame Wilson. The attack was quickly proven to be a lie, yet Trump has continued to attack Wilson and to impugn the integrity of a grieving Gold Star family.
These are not the actions of a man who respects the military or the families of those who fight for our country. These are the actions of a man who is fending off a steady stream of perceived attacks on his ego, no matter who he considers the enemy.
And when those attacks are aimed at people who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country, and on their bereaved loved ones, the callousness and cruelty behind them becomes shockingly clear.