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Beating a broken drum

Over the past few months Donald Trump’s tweets, speeches and behavior have reached new heights (depths?) in arrogance, egomania and lying that mandate an end to his perilous presidency in 2020 — or sooner.

In a July 4 address, Trump gave the nation some apparently unknown facts about the Revolutionary War, stating: “Our army manned the air, rammed the ramparts, it took over the airports …” Who knew the British had airplanes 127 years before the Wright brothers’ first flight? Next year Trump will tell us how George Washington captured Napoleon’s nuclear weapons arsenal and defeated the French at Gettysburg.

In August of this year Trump “joked” with a group of Congressional Medal of Honor recipients that he had asked his staff whether he could give himself that distinguished award. This from the “bone spurs” draft-dodger who equated his sexual exploits with serving in Vietnam. Disgusting.

Perhaps he can award himself a presidential medal for his service after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack in New York City. In July he told a group of first responders: “I was down there also, but I’m not considering myself a first responder. But I was down there; I spent a lot of time down there with you.” With typical braggadocios (and complete disregard for the dead and dying), Trump told a radio station shortly after the attack that with the destruction of the World Trade Center, one of his buildings was now the tallest structure in Manhattan. (It wasn’t.)

One of Trump’s first tweets on Sept. 11 of this year was a textbook example of delusions of grandeur stating that “he had done more than any other president in the first two-and-a-half years.” Apparently Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt were all sub-par performers.

During a Pentagon speech later that day, Trump stated that he and a group of men (more than 100, he informed a German television station two days after the attack) went to the WTC after the second airplane crashed into the tower “to help in any little way we could.” In July of this year, retired New York City deputy fire chief Richard Alles (who spent months at the destroyed WTC) stated he never saw Trump at the site and that there would be a record of a crew that size.

At a mid August campaign-style rally in New Hampshire, Trump stated he was “named man of the year in Michigan,” a claim he has been making since 2015. Numerous reporters have checked the veracity of this assertion, and all have concluded there is no such award. The president couldn’t care less, as he is continually reinforced by supporters who relish — or ignore — such non-stop lies (over 12,000 as of Aug. 5).

At a New Mexico rally in September, Trump told 27 lies in 95 minutes. Among the whoppers was his statement that he was the president who got the Veterans Choice health care program passed. “They’ve tried to get that for 45 years.” Trump continued the program in 2017, then expanded it via the VA Mission Act (2018), but he did not start it. A bipartisan bill championed by Senators Bernie Sanders and John McCain, the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act was signed into law by President Obama in 2014.

Trump’s insatiable need for attention and adoration was on full display after the gun massacres in El Paso and Dayton. He gleefully told El Paso reporters about his earlier stopover in Dayton: “We had an amazing day. The love and respect for the office of the presidency — I wish you could have been there to see it.” Any event, tragic or joyful, is but another “It’s all about me” Trump moment.

But that was hardly the worst of it. A photo taken at an El Paso hospital shows a smiling Donald and Melania Trump, she holding an infant, he flashing a thumbs-up. A joyous “beautiful baby” moment? Hardly. The baby’s mother was killed shielding the infant from gunfire at the El Paso gun massacre, and the child’s father was killed trying to protect his wife. Only someone as heartless and warped as Trump would turn such tragedy into a feel-good photo op.

Looking for a foreign policy achievement before the 2020 election (and the Nobel Peace Prize), Trump invited Taliban leaders to Camp David to discuss ending the war in Afghanistan and bringing American troops home. Retired Lt. Col. Ralph Peters, a former Army intelligence officer, stated that while making a strategic exit from Afghanistan was a worthy goal, inviting the Taliban to this country for talks was one of the most “repulsive ideas” ever by an American president. Speaking of that international terrorist organization, Peters stated: “To bring the Taliban, to elevate and dignify them, by bringing them to Camp David … is absolutely madness.” Peters notes that Trump does not understand principles of national security and that his own government does not trust him.

Trump’s Taliban invitation was likely driven by his inability to negotiate a substantive nuclear arms reduction treaty with North Korea. Former national security advisor John Bolton stated that “under current circumstances” Kim Jong-un “will never give up the nuclear weapons voluntarily” and will “do whatever he can” to keep those weapons.

Kim Jong-un knows a dupe when he sees one and has Trump just where he wants him, expending little more than meaningless flattery to feed the president’s gigantic ego. Of Kim, Trump said last year, “He wrote me beautiful letters, and we fell in love.”

In a recent opinion piece, “The Man Trump Wishes He Were,” New York Times columnist David Brooks compares and contrasts former Marine Corps general and Secretary of Defense James Mattis with Trump. Brooks describes Mattis as a scholar-warrior, a highly intelligent, well-read, self-disciplined man who “built strengths and virtues through the steady application of intense effort over decades.” Trump is the complete opposite, a pathetic, hopelessly immature buffoon who, as Brooks states, “has been progressively hollowed out by the acid of his own self-regard.”

George J. Bryjak lives in Bloomingdale and is retired after 24 years of teaching sociology at the University of San Diego.

Sources:

Bennett, K. (Aug. 9, 2019) “Photo shows Melania Trump holding infant orphaned by El Paso killer,” CNN, www.cnn.com

Brooks, D. (Aug. 29, 2019) “The Man Trump Wishes He Were,” New York Times, www.nytimes.com

Collizza, C. (July 30, 2019) “You’ll never believe what Donald Trump just said,” CNN, www.cnn.com

Colllizza, C. (Sept. 11, 2019) “Donald Trump sure has a strange way of commemorating 9/11,” CNN, www.cnn.com

Cronk, T. (April 20, 2017) “President Signs Bill to Extend Veteran’s Choice Health Care Law,” United States Department of Defense, www.defense.gov

Crowley, M. (Aug. 7, 2019) “Trump Uses a Day of Healing to Deepen the Nation’s Divisions,” The New York Times, www.nytimes.com

“He wrote me beautiful letters and we fell in love”: Donald Trump on Kim Jung-un” (Sept. 30, 2018) The Guardian, www.theguardian.com

Liptak, K. (Sept. 30, 2019) “Ousted Bolton disagrees sharply with Trump’s North Korea strategy, CNN, www.cnn.com

Phifer, D. (Aug. 16, 2019) “Donald Trump Has Repeatedly Claimed he Was ‘Michigan’s Man of the Year.’ That’s Not a Real Award,” Newsweek, www.newsweek.com

Rogers, K. (July 29, 2019) “Fact-Checking Trump’s Claim He ‘Spent a Lot of Time’ with 9/11 Responders,” New York Times, www.nytimes.com

“The VA Mission Act of 2018” (accessed 2019) U.S. Senate, www.veterans.senate.gov

Thomas, J. (Sept. 10, 2019) “Retired Colonel: Inviting Taliban During 9/11 One of the Most ‘Repulsive Ideas'” CNN, www.cnn.com

Woodward, C. (July 5, 2019) “George Washington’s forces seized the airports? Trump blames July 4 speech history flub on busted teleprompter,” Chicago Tribune, www.chicagotribune.com

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