Critics from both Democratic and Republican sides are emerging to prevent Donald Trump from winning another four years in the White House, writes Dr Norm Sanders.
The Atlantic magazine of 3 September 2020 let loose a flood of pent up military anger with its story headed:
‘Trump: Americans who died in war are “losers” and “suckers”.’
The article involves the Trump refusal to visit the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery near Paris in 2018.
According to the Atlantic article:
Trump rejected the idea of the visit because he feared his hair would become dishevelled in the rain and because he did not believe it important to honour American war dead, according to four people with firsthand knowledge of the discussion that day. In a conversation with senior staff members on the morning of the scheduled visit, Trump said, “Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers.” In a separate conversation on the same trip, Trump referred to the more than 1,800 marines who lost their lives at Belleau Wood as “suckers” for getting killed.
Trump has made similar statements before with little lasting impact, but the wounds have been festering. He made disparaging comments about former presidential nominee John McCain, shot down over Vietnam and held as a prisoner until the war ended.
Trump said McCain wasn't a war hero:
“I like people that weren't captured.”
One hundred of McCain's former staffers have now come out in support of 2020 presidential nominee Joe Biden. Trump also belittled his Chief of Staff, General John Kelly and Secretary of Defense General James Mattis. All this from a man who dodged the draft due to “bone spurs”.
Veterans are revered and respected in the U.S. When I was a kid in Chicago during WW2, just about every other house had an A4 size flag in the window. In the centre of the flag was a star. If the star was blue, someone from the house was in the military. Some houses had two or more blue stars, but the most respected were the flags with gold stars. They indicated that the son or father in the house had been killed. The flags are still displayed in U.S. windows today for serving men and women.
Military personnel usually vote Republican. But their support of the party comes second to their loyalty to the U.S. Constitution, the flag, the unit and their comrades. Trump has challenged their loyalty and lost.
Trump's ego blinded himself to the fact that he was skating on thin ice when he attacked “his Generals”, as he liked to call them. His biggest mistake was his treatment of retired Marine Corps General James Mattis who he had appointed as his Secretary of Defence.
Trump had speculated publicly that Mattis might be a Democrat and said, in reference to NATO:
“I think I know more about it than he does.”
Among other postings, Mattis had been head of the U.S. Joint Forces Command.
His attacks on Mattis may have prepared the ground for the present military revolt. The U.S. Marines hold legendary status in America and present personnel and veterans are extremely proud of their service. Trump stumbled onto a land mine in France when he refused to visit the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery. The Marines would have welcomed his visit, fittingly in a Marine Corps helicopter, for this cemetery is hallowed ground to the USMC. Over 1,800 Marines are buried here and Trump called them “suckers.” Bad move, Mr President.
Not only the Marines, but many other veterans are speaking out.
Army Major General Paul Eaton posted a video online in which he reacted furiously to the Atlantic article.
General Eaton said:
I’ve got to tell you, it was a tough read. You have the President of the United States calls the American military ‘losers’ and ‘suckers’, particularly those who gave their lives.
When he met with the [former] chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General [Joseph] Dunford, his comment was, ‘That’s a smart guy. Why is he in the military?’
I’m pretty unhappy with you, Mr Trump. So I’m going to keep this short, for your famous short attention span. You have shown disrespect to the military on countless occasions. I am stunned that anybody in the United States military would consider you anything but a loser or a sucker. You’re no patriot.
Eaton held up a dog tag that belonged to his father, who died in the Vietnam War and continued:
My father was a patriot. Well-educated. He was a wise man. The best men and women in the United States of America are found in the armed forces... Brave men and women. They’re not just brave, they’re smart. And they’re wise. So, Mr Trump, come 3 November, we’re all voting for a real patriot — Joe Biden. And everybody who hears this, please take notice, and please vote. Vote Democratic. Our country’s honour depends on it.
A quick search online shows a number of other officers, enlisted men and veterans with a similar message. And the move against Trump extends into the wider community. The Lincoln Project is a group of former Republicans who are opposing Trump's re-election. The Project produces hard-hitting anti-Trump videos and has spent $13 million so far. Among the founders is George T. Conway III, husband of Kellyanne Conway, Counselor to the President. Must make for interesting dinner table conversation.
A more grass-roots approach is taken by Republican Voters Against Trump (RVAT) who say, “Donald Trump is not representative of the Republican Party that I fell in love with”.
‘These are Republicans, former Republicans, conservatives and former Trump voters who can't support Trump for president this fall.’
RVAT encourages disillusioned Republicans to video their concerns. The interviews from all over the country are then made available to view online. The web site provides for locating RVAT videos from a voter's local area. The message is always the same: “Vote Joe Biden.”
Could it be that America may be waking up from its disastrous four-year sleepwalk?
Dr Norm Sanders is a former commercial pilot, flight Instructor, university professor, Tasmanian State MP and Federal Senator.
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