“He knew what he signed up for.”
Those are the words President Donald Trump reportedly said to the widow of a fallen U.S. soldier, who was one of four people to lose their lives in an attack earlier this month in Niger. The remarks drew sharp outcry from critics who blasted the president’s insensitivity and seeming lack of empathy.
The backlash naturally prompted the president to deny he used that language — because why wouldn’t he throw a grieving widow under the bus? This is, of course, the same man who launched a number of vicious attacks against the Gold Star parents of a fallen military service member leading up to the election.
Yet, he was still elected — and reportedly enjoyed a 3-1 majority over Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton among military members.
While Trump may tout himself as a friend to the military, his actions illuminate his status as anything but. During the campaign, he sought to use anti-Muslim rhetoric to defame Khizr and Ghazala Khan, Democratic supporters whose son was killed in Iraq. He asserted that Sen. John McCain’s isn’t a true military hero because he spent time as a prisoner of war. Trump callously tweeted his plan to ban all transgender service members from the military, a move that could devastate countless careers and families.
More recently, he has spent weeks aiming to politicize military service, desperately trying to reframe NFL protests against police brutality as challenges to American patriotism, relying on his go-to campaign tactic of dividing to conquer. Just this week, he made a spurious claim former presidents didn’t contact families of the fallen, which drew significant pushback from both sides of the aisle. And then there was his crass and ugly treatment of at least one family of the Niger attacks.
It is long past time for staunch military supporters to recognize the commander-in-chief is not an ally to the armed forces. Military support that lacks any shred of compassion, empathy and appreciation for the personal sacrifice that comes with service isn’t genuine — it’s self-serving, the only constant in Donald Trump’s presidency.