Drowning the Dignity and Honor of the Office in a Swamp of His Own Making

Posted: October 21, 2017 in Life, News, Politics
Tags: , ,

“He’ll change.”

“He’ll grow into the office.”

“There are two Trumps. We’re seeing the primary and election Trump, but when if wins, then we’ll see Presidential Trump. He won’t be at all like this if he wins.”

These and other things were said by people who fall into one of three categories. They were said by the staggeringly ignorant or the wildly self-deceitful. These first two groups having in common an apparent ability to have ignored thirty-five-plus years of Donald Trump’s public words and actions. The third group knew full well who and what Donald Trump was, and the members of this third group were simply the deliberately disingenuous. Because the simple fact is that anyone who paid any attention to Donald Trump over the decades and had any functional brain cells in their head knew exactly how crass and how vulgar Donald Trump would be as President of the United States as well as how low Donald Trump would drag down the honor and dignity of that office.

Well, at least we thought we knew. Somehow, unbelievably, Donald Trump keeps managing to lower the bar beyond what even many of his critics predicted.

Many thought that Trump’s words and actions in the wake of the Charlottesville white supremacist rallies in August of 2017 set the ultimate low bar for his Presidency with regards to domestic issues. Despite watching him having already played footsie with the white nationalists during the 2016 campaign, many were as shocked as they were appalled to see Trump play word games and bounce back and forth between mild condemnation of the white supremacist groups and playing false equivalency word games to indicate that maybe they weren’t really the bad actors there. Many were absolutely dumbstruck when Trump declared that, yeah, the rioting people on Saturday were bad, but those nice people who were there for the original rally on Friday night were some perfectly good and decent people.

He said that about the group that was there Friday night. The group consisting of white nationalists who were carrying torches and chanting things like ‘blood and soil’ and ‘Jews will not replace us’ in between screaming random racial epitaphs. He went to bat for that group, and many stated that- not even a full seven months into his time in office -he couldn’t sink any lower during his Presidency.

For some, he sank even lower just a few months later with his words, actions, and tweets pertaining to the disaster relief efforts in Puerto Rico. Many more didn’t really see it as a new lowering of the bar for Trump, though. They simply saw it as a continuation and reaffirmation of what was seen after Charlottesville.

No, said many, we’d seen him lower the bar about as far as he could go. Then this week happened.

It actually started some time before this last week. The news started reporting that four American soldiers had been ambushed and killed in Niger. First a few days went by, then a week, and then almost two weeks went by without any word from the Commander in Chief. It wasn’t due to a lack of platforms to speak on. Trump had been tweeting seemingly endlessly in an attempt to mischaracterize the reasons behind NFL players kneeling before the game. He’d also made comments to the media about them. In between his comments about his crusade against the NFL players, he launched attacks on various people for whatever reasons Trump could find to do so. So, no, there was no lack of available platforms to comment on, yet still no word from Trump on the death of these soldiers.

So, finally, when one reporter had the chance, Trump was asked the question while speaking to reporters. He was asked why so much time had passed without his making an official statement on the death of the soldiers. His response was, disgustingly, typical Trump. How did Trump answer a question about four dead US soldiers? He made it all about him and how great he is. He also, despite the question not being about notifying the families, chose to make it about how he chooses to notify the families of fallen soldiers and how much better than everyone else he was about doing it.

And that is where Trump lowered the bar (and not for the last time over this fiasco he started) further down than many thought even he would go. Donald Trump took the topic of one of the most solemn and sacred duties that a President might have to perform- expressing condolences to the families of service members killed in the service of this country –and made it all about him and his fragile vanity and ego.

It probably would have been bad enough if he had just done that. Had he merely taken the subject of this duty and used it to tell everyone how great and wonderful he was in the hopes of gaining cheers and adulation to inflate his ego; that would have been vulgar enough of a lowering of the bar. But the problem was that he didn’t stop there. In typical Trump fashion, he took the example of honoring the military dead and conveying condolences to their families and turned it into a cudgel to attack others with. But he didn’t merely attack others with it. No, he first wrapped it up in lies and then used it to lie about and attack his predecessors. One of the most solemn and sacred duties that a President might have to perform was, for Donald Trump, nothing more than a cheap prop to fluff his ego with and to lie about others in a disgusting attempt to put them down and thus to make himself look better.

The only reason he did it was to stroke his ego and seek praise and adulation from his supporters, and in doing so he did little more than essentially piss on the dead soldiers and their families as a means to serve his own vanity. Then he and his administration went and shoved the bar even lower than that.

Having talked himself up on national TV, he realized that he might have to actually follow through. By the account of White House Chief of Staff General John Kelly, Trump then sought out Kelly’s advice on how to make the phone calls to the families and on what to say. Further, Kelly was in the room with him when he made the calls. This becomes important later.

Trump placed a call to the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, Myeshia Johnson, which went off the rails in more way than one. During the call, Trump failed to use Johnson’s name, reportedly referring to him as “your guy” several times during the course of the call. Trump also reportedly said to the young widow that Sgt. La David Johnson “knew what he signed up for.” It’s something that may in fact be true, but not something you tell a grieving widow.

The initial account of the call was first described by Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Florida, on Tuesday. Trump immediately took to Twitter and claimed that he had never said these things and that Wilson was a liar and that he had (eventually proven nonexistent) proof of this. He and others with the administration also attacked Wilson for “secretly” listening in on the call. Johnson’s mother, Cowanda Jones-Johnson, then came forward and confirmed Wilson’s account of the call- stating further that Trump had disrespected her family -as well as clarifying what was already being reported elsewhere. Wilson was a long-time friend of La David Johnson, and she and the Johnson family had been close friends for some time now. They were all together at the time of Trump’s call, and Myeshia Johnson had placed the call on speaker for all to hear.

Trump continued to deny this, calling the statements lies and thus in the process continuing his political career tradition of attacking Gold Star Families. Then, on Thursday, the Trump administration attempted to play a trump card on the issue. They sent John Kelly out to speak to the press about the situation. This was a bit of a mixed blessing for the Trump administration. Kelly spoke passionately about the duties of our military and their sacrifices and gave very personal accounts of what these types of losses mean to the families and the terrible burden it can be on the ones who must deliver that news to the families and/or those who seek to offer their condolences. He also sought to attack and undercut Rep. Frederica Wilson, calling her an “empty barrel” a number of times.

It was an immediate mixed blessing because of the following reasons. Kelly’s comments were reported on in largely positive ways. Commentators were describing his words as stirring, powerful, heartfelt, and moving. Kelly’s moment in the spotlight, including citing the loss of his own son, also a soldier, was taking some of the media attention away from Wilson and the phone call as primary topic of the evening.

One problem was Trump still declaring that Wilson and the family had lied, that he had never said what she and the family claimed he said, and that Kelly’s words proved it. The problem for Trump here was that Kelly’s version of events backed the statements of Wilson and the family. See below.

Another problem came in the form of Kelly repeatedly mischaracterizing how Wilson had learned of what was said on the call. It was already public knowledge that Wilson was a close family friend and had been with them when the call was made and put on speaker. Yet Kelly continued to misrepresent her actions as “secretly” listening in on the call. He repeatedly expressed how it “stuns” him so that she would do this thing… that she didn’t actually do.

That was another problem, and one that would become even worse a day later. Kelly overacted the “stuns” bits in his speech.

“It stuns me that a member of Congress would have listened in on that conversation. It stuns me. I thought at least that was sacred.”

Wow… It “stuns” him that a woman who has known the family for years and was with the widow and mother of the deceased when the call was placed on speaker would listen to the call. This “stuns” him.

Not Trump’s comments.

Not Trump starting this fiasco by trying to stroke his own ego and bragging about how much better than everyone else he is about handling contacting the families.

Not Trump taking this, as Kelly himself described it, “sacred” thing and both using it as a distraction from the topic he was actually asked about and immediately politicizing it when he did so.

Not Trump lying about past Presidents not doing their due duty with regards to this task in the attempt to make himself look bigger and better.

Not Trump referencing Kelly’s son when he told this lie.

But a longtime family friend who knew the deceased well and was with the widow and mother when the widow in question took the call and put it on speaker for those with her to hear it actually hearing the call “stuns” him.

This brings us to the larger problem it created the following day. Kelly was so “stunned” by Wilson’s actions that he launched into a story about witnessing a congresswoman, Wilson, in 2015 act ever so self-serving and low.

“I’ll end with this: In October — April, rather, of 2015, I was still on active duty, and I went to the dedication of the new FBI field office in Miami. And it was dedicated to two men who were killed in a firefight in Miami against drug traffickers in 1986 — a guy by the name of Grogan and Duke. Grogan almost retired, 53 years old; Duke, I think less than a year on the job. Anyways, they got in a gunfight and they were killed. Three other FBI agents were there, were wounded, and now retired. So we go down — Jim Comey gave an absolutely brilliant memorial speech to those fallen men and to all of the men and women of the FBI who serve our country so well, and law enforcement so well.

“There were family members there. Some of the children that were there were three or four years old when their dads were killed on that street in Miami-Dade. Three of the men that survived the fight were there, and gave a rendition of how brave those men were and how they gave their lives.

“The congresswoman stood up, and in the long tradition of empty barrels making the most noise, stood up there and all of that and talked about how she was instrumental in getting the funding for that building, and how she took care of her constituents because she got the money, and she just called up President Obama, and on that phone call he gave the money — the $20 million — to build the building. And she sat down, and we were stunned. Stunned that she had done it. Even for someone that is that empty a barrel, we were stunned.

“But, you know, none of us went to the press and criticized. None of us stood up and were appalled. We just said, okay, fine.”

He then informed the assembled press that only those who were or knew Gold Star parents or siblings could ask questions of him.

So, how did this become a problem? Because the Chef of Staff completely lied about the entire thing. The Sun Sentinel posted the video of the entire speech made in 2015 online. By Friday afternoon, multiple news agencies had picked the video up and played it in part or in full. There was no question or possible debate on the matter. Kelly’s version of events simply did not happen. At best he completely misremembered the event on every level. At worst, Kelly lied in order to smear Wilson in the pursuit of defending Trump. Kelly sold his honor, his integrity, and his dignity down the road, and he did it to defend a pathological liar of a man who was working as hard as he could to lower the bar for vulgar behavior by a sitting President.

And Kelly quickly proved that it was in fact the worst case.

Kelly could have easily diffused the situation to a large degree in much the same way Trump could have earlier in the week. Kelly could have made an apology and admitted that he got it wrong. He could have attributed it to faulty memory. He didn’t do that. Instead, he doubled down.

Despite the video evidence and the other facts around the situation with the event at the FBI building he spoke of completely destroying his narrative of the events, Kelly released a statement through an official spokesperson that he stood by his comments. Hey, he saw what he saw after all. Sarah Huckabee Sanders then informed the press that it was “highly inappropriate” to get into a debate with “a four-star Marine general” over whether he misstated the facts or not.

Trump also jumped back into it in an interview by again lying about how Wilson was originally involved and defending Kelly’s “stunned” anger at Wilson. He discussed how this “sacred” call was only meant to be between him and the person he was calling and how Wilson had no business listening to any of it. I’m sure that the Trump supporters nodded their heads in agreement to that, but, if they did, they did so only because they chose not to think.

Trump says the call was private. It should only be for him and the recipient he chooses. But Trump himself, as a form of “proof” of his false version of the conversation, claimed that he had staff with him in the room when he made the call. Indeed, we know from Kelly’s own words that Kelly was there. So Trump feels that he can invite listeners in for a private “sacred” call that he says only he and the bereaved should be a part of.

But here’s the thing with the call. Wilson didn’t plan and plot to be there to “secretly” listen in. As a friend of the family, she was with Myeshia Johnson and Cowanda Jones-Johnson in their shared time of grief, and that simply happened to be when the call came. Myeshia Johnson then chose to place the call on speaker and let those with her at that time hear the call. No one on her end of it did anything “secretly” with regards to listening to the call. One wonders though if Trump told her how many ears were listening to this “sacred” call on his end of it when he started speaking to her.

But Trump and Kelly condemn Wilson, and by extension Myeshia Johnson and Cowanda Jones-Johnson, for the call being willingly shared on her end of it. Apparently, in Trump’s desire to shove the bar even lower, he and Kelly both believe that the federal government has the authority to dictate to a grieving widow the terms under which she may receive such a call, and to disobey the will of Trump on the matter is to willingly invite lie filled attacks.

I’d like to believe that at some point Trump and (more realistically) Kelly will come to their senses and start taking the right actions to fix this fiasco they’ve created. But the simple fact is that it won’t happen. Maybe, eventually, Kelly might try to earn back some of his dignity and honor, but Trump won’t for the simple reason that he never truly had any to begin with and he has surrounded himself with people that will defend and enable his actions no matter how low he sinks and no matter how far down he drags the bar with him.

Trump won’t do it because of the low moral character he possesses. After all, Trump started this when he took that sacred, solemn task, politicized it, and turned it first into a distraction from the actual subject he was being asked about and then turned it into a tool to attack his predecessors with after wrapping it in lies. And the only reason he did it was to boast and brag about himself. The only reason he did it was to stroke and fluff his fragile ego and seek praise and adulation. It was the type of boasting that came from the same vile, hollow place in his fragile, ego driven psyche that compelled him to brag on September 11, 2001- while events were still happening -that with the towers having fallen he once again owned the tallest building in New York City.

Trump did little more than essentially piss on the military dead in order to serve his own tiny, fractured ego and vanity.

But the worst thing about the last week- maybe even worse than seeing Trump use did soldiers as a tool of political attack and distraction -was seeing so many people- from the common Republican on the street to Kelly in his press conference -rationalize, excuse, and defend Trump and his vulgar actions on this matter. The sad truth is that the only thing lower and more disgusting at this point than Donald Trump- who is simply being the sad, tiny, and pathetic little man anyone paying attention over the decades knew him to be -and the depths to which he will drag down the Office of the Presidency and any dignity and honor that was associated with it are the people who still choose to defend, support, and enable him.

Trumpster Trash

Edit Additional – 10/21/2017 @1530 hours

While I was writing the original piece largely on Friday and then when I went to post it on Saturday, I missed two things. One was minor, one was, well, pathetically typical Trump.

Lara Trump, the daughter-in-law of Donald Trump, came to Trump’s defense by claiming that she personally read the transcript of the call in question and can vouch for the fact that Donald Trump never said what he’s been reported as saying on the call. The smaller problem with this comes from her comments and John Kelly’s comments being somewhat at odds over the matter. The bigger problem with this comes from the fact that her statement totally contradicts the official word from administration officials. They have flat out directly stated that no transcripts or recordings of the call exist.

These idiots can’t even keep their lies straight or even on the same page.

The larger issue today comes from the Commander in Chief himself. Today is Saturday the 21st. Today is the day Sgt. Johnson’s service was held and when he is to be laid to rest. That hope I expressed earlier that maybe Trump would in some way start taking steps to correct this tragic fiasco he started a week ago? Nope, not happening. Donald Trump picked today of all days to kick off the day by launching attacks on Wilson and, by extension of their comments backing Wilson’s, the family on Twitter. But, seven hours after the first tweet attacking Wilson today, he has not made one tweet or statement about the fallen soldier being laid to rest today or his service to this country.

Donald Trump is a disgrace to the Office of the Presidency. He is a petty, vulgar, ignorant, emotionally and mentally stunted man-child who is incapable of rising above his base nature or growing into the office of public service he now holds, and that is all that he, and very likely the majority of his most loyal supporters, will ever be.

Edit Additional – 10/24/2017 @0025 hours

So, Monday the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, Myeshia Johnson, spoke publicly and confirmed the version of the call that Wilson, Johnson’s mother, and Kelly have already made public. Trump immediately responded on Twitter and once again attempted to smear a Gold Star family’s honer by lying about the call yet again.

If Trump had any shreds of honor and intelligence, he would have long ago (A) told the truth about the call and (B) defused much of this by saying that he was inarticulate with his words and caused inadvertent offense. Sadly, he has neither of those two things in real amounts and he’s never learned that once you find yourself in a deep hole you should stop digging. At this point, he’s gone past the point of no return, and his only instincts are still lie, smear, and attack.

If only this was the lowest Trump could sink personally while in office and the lowest he could drag the honor and dignity of the office down with him, but, tragically, I think we’re nowhere near the end of his descent.

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