Donald Trump’s current feud with former White House chief of staff John Kelly only underscores what most of us have known all along.
The president keeps saying how much he respects the military but keeps demonstrating at every possible turn how he manages to disrespect those who make command decisions.
Kelly is a retired Marine Corps four-star general. He ran the Department of Homeland Security before he moved to the White House post. He didn’t last long before Trump fired him. Now he’s going after Gen. Kelly for speaking up on behalf of an Army lieutenant colonel who acted as he was trained to do when he heard something he perceived to be illegal; in Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman’s case, he heard the president ask a foreign government leader for a personal political favor.
A year ago, Trump fired off an angry tweet criticizing another highly decorated officer, retired Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal. He said McChrystal had a “big dumb mouth.” He had criticized Trump’s sudden decision to pull troops out of Afghanistan, ,which is still in the midst of a war with the Taliban and other terrorists.
Trump has disparaged other premier military men, such as former national security adviser H.R. McMaster, who happens to be an Army lieutenant general and a noted military scholar.
Let us remember what he declared during the 2016 presidential campaign that he knows “more about ISIS than the generals do. Believe me.” He doesn’t know more. He doesn’t anything about the Islamic State, or al-Qaeda.
And speaking of al-Qaeda, how can one forget when he said that the May 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden should have occurred before it did. He then launched a brief feud with retired Admiral William McRaven, the former head of the Special Operations Command and under whose watch the SEALs along with CIA commandos took out the al-Qaeda leader.
What is most galling about all of this, of course, is the manner in which Trump avoided military service during the Vietnam War. He managed to find a family doctor who signed off on something called “bone spurs,” enabling young Donald to obtain a medical deferment that kept him out of uniform.
Yes, all of that rubs many of us who did serve in that war the wrong way. It also rubs many of us raw the way he continues to disparage brilliant and courageous military officers who saw fit to thrust themselves into harm’s way while the commander in chief chose to stay far away.