A Lame Defense (Really, a Self Own)

Trump basically confirmed all but one aspect of the Atlantic story.

“President Trump Departs for Louisiana” by The White House is in the Public Domain

I normally ignore Breitbart and rarely visit the site. I was sticking to that personal policy when I noted that Trump had tweeted out this morning their story that supposedly defended him against the Atlantic story about his disparaging remarks about veterans.

Here’s the tweet:

At first, I just skimmed past it and then I saw the story was atop Memeorandum, and I really read the headline: Jennifer Griffin of Fox News Did Not Confirm ‘Most Salacious’ Part of Atlantic Story

So, that meant that according to Breitbart’s piece (which is really just a parsing of her tweets and does not contain actual reporting), Griffin did confirm the rest of the Atlantic piece.

On Special Report, Griffin told host Bret Baier that her anonymous sources said Trump had used the term “suckers” to refer to Americans who fought in Vietnam.

The latter claim is not actually new. Former Trump lawyer-turned-opponent Michael Cohen made the same claim publicly in early 2019.

Griffin also said that she confirmed that Trump had asked why veterans served, “What’s in it for them? They don’t make any money.”

[…]

She also said that one, or both, sources confirmed some other details in the Atlantic story.

But Griffin said she could not confirm “the most salacious” part of the Atlantic report, which claimed that Trump had called World War I solders [sic] buried at the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery near Paris “losers” and “suckers.”

As defenses go, this is amazingly lame. And it isn’t reporting that he definitely didn’t say the reported quotes in France, just that Griffin had been unable as yet to corroborate them.

As a propaganda goes, this is just stunningly ineffective.

But even better (or worse, depending on how you are looking at it), the fact that Trump tweeting this out as a defense of himself is just priceless. It is quite the self-own.

At a minimum he sent out a story to his ~85 million followers that Fox New had corroborated most of the story.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2020, Donald Trump, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. HarvardLaw92 says:

    End result: not a single mind was changed on either side

    6
  2. @HarvardLaw92: Perhaps. Perhaps not. Kind of hard to know at this point, actually.

    11
  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    He always confirms the worst.

    5
  4. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    If minds were going to be changed by behaviors like this, it would have happened long ago. It’s tribal now. Ideas can be debated; tribes must be defended.

    You have two fundamentally incompatible viewpoints about what the country should look like, which are at war with each other, that have only grown more Balkanized over time. A blip like this is going to reinforce the beliefs of one side while being shrugged off by the other.

    6
  5. Mikey says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Yeah, I’ve seen a couple items online that indicate some people have changed their minds. One person said their retired Marine neighbor walked out, pulled up his Trump yard sign, and pitched it in the trash. And if you are ever on Reddit, there’s a subreddit called “Trumpgrets” that contains a lot of people’s statements regarding their change of heart.

    But is it enough to affect the results in November? I guess we’ll see.

    10
  6. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    @HarvardLaw92:

    There are what, 6% undecided? Most likely those are hate both and this gives them another excuse to simply stay home or vote for Joe.

    9
  7. @HarvardLaw92: Rather obviously, I do not think any mass changing of minds is going to happen, as I have repeatedly written about the power of partisanship and motivated thinking.

    I just reject the notion that absolutely no one changes their mind. Or that such stories don’t affect enthusiasm and hence individual voter turnout.

    Regardless, I simply found it amusing that a) the Breitbart piece is a pretty lame defense, and b) that he tweeted it out like it vindicated him.

    18
  8. CSK says:

    Not to nitpick–oh, hell, of course I do–but why, why, why did Griffin (or whoever) use the word “salacious” when it means “showing an inappropriate interest in sexual matters”? Did someone confuse it with “scurrilous”?

    16
  9. Kathy says:

    Democrats, Never-trumpers, and others in the informal anti-Trump coalition, should spend some money in polls of active and retired military personnel, and give them lots of play in the media.

    3
  10. @Mikey:

    But is it enough to affect the results in November?

    I suspect nothing so grandiose. However, as I have maintained for years, it matters how badly he loses so every single vote for Biden or every single Trump voter who stays home is a good thing.

    7
  11. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    It depends on the lens. You’re predisposed to view any gaffe as validation of your dislike for him. His supporters are predisposed to view it in a very different way. That said, this is by no means new ground for him. Just not sure what the point was in calling attention to it beyond “See?? My team good, their team bad”

    The Balkans are lovely this time of year

  12. @HarvardLaw92: Yes, I think the Trump administration and Trump himself is bad. Indeed, I think him a threat to our democracy. And, further, I don’t think that’s hyperbole, although I suspect that you do.

    As such, anything that might lead to even a handful of voters to sit and take notice is worthwhile, in my opinion.

    So yes, their team bad. Very, very bad.

    And while it is clear you don’t respect this position, I am not thrilled with your “I’m above it all” position either, so I guess we have that going for us.

    30
  13. Slugger says:

    @HarvardLaw92: I agree with you that these things are not going to impact partisans on either side. However, there were a huge numbers of eligible voters who did not cast a ballot in 2016.
    https://www.cosmopolitan.com/politics/a8265143/almost-half-eligible-voters-did-not-vote-election-2016/
    I’m sure that the strategists on both sides are very aware of the nonvoters. The Trump campaign is trying to use “law and order” to get them. The antiTrumpists are using “he’s a scumbag.” We’ll see in November how these efforts pan out.

    3
  14. mattbernius says:

    I suspect that everything now is about increasing or depressing turn out.

    It isn’t flipping many Trump/Republican voters, but seeing if, like in 2006 and 2008 they will stay home.

    5
  15. It also strikes me: if this is nothing, then why are Trump and their allies so keen on addressing it?

    9
  16. CSK says:

    According to the Daily Beast, Trump’s defenders have been reduced to saying that he really doesn’t hate the troops, he just sounds like an asshole.

    “Asshole” was the word they used.

    Just what we need: A president who sounds like an asshole.

    13
  17. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Slugger:

    No argument, but in this environment these tactics are probably zero-sum. You motivate people who dislike him to turnout by attacking him, but you probably equally motivate his supporters to turn out by attacking him.

    And I’d wager that they didn’t opt out of voting because they’re undecided. They opted out because they’ve become convinced that there is no point in bothering to vote in the first place. If people are disaffected with the system in general, and I believe that they are, then pointing out how bad this side or that side is won’t motivate them to vote. It’ll validate and magnify their disaffection.

    3
  18. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Fair enough. It generally strikes me as self-congratulation / self-celebration, but I’ll take you at your word.

    1
  19. steve says:

    Agree that this won’t really change anything. Most people just read the headlines so people who see it will think the Fox reporter did not confirm any other bad parts. Sure, maybe 50 or 60 veterans who were going to vote for Trump change their mind. Another 50 or 60 who hate Democrats but dont like Trump will decide this is just fake news out to get Trump and will decide to vote for him after all. People value their tribe more than concepts like decency and honor.

    Steve

    4
  20. Joe says:

    I simply found it amusing that a) the Breitbart piece is a pretty lame defense, and b) that he tweeted it out like it vindicated him.

    At least, Steven L. Taylor, the Breitbart piece was probably shorter than the Mueller report that got the same treatment.

    2
  21. CSK says:

    It occurs to me that my nephew won a Bronze Star in Afghanistan for organizing and heading up a search and rescue mission. I wonder what he thinks of Trump’s comment that lost soldiers aren’t worth finding.

    8
  22. Gustopher says:

    When Trump mentioned, apropos of nothing, That he had not suffered from a series of mini strokes I was left with one of two conclusions:

    1. He clearly suffered from a series of mini strokes.
    2. The strokes weren’t mini.

    This falls into the same category.

    16
  23. Scott F. says:

    @HarvardLaw92:
    These tactics may be zero-sum as far as the presidential election goes, but I think you’re missing the true value.

    There is sufficient corroboration now, with even Fox and Breitbart acknowledging most of the allegations, to start asking incumbent Republicans where they stand on Trump’s statements. Sure, tribalism is baked into the presidential vote, but this can be used against Joni Ernst, Martha McSally, Lindsay Graham, etc. I’ve already seen MJ Hegar calling out John Cornyn. They can be forced to either defend Trump and lose more independents or they repudiate Trump and lose faith with their base.

    That looks like a win-win tactic to me.

    18
  24. Moosebreath says:

    What Digby said:

    “He blames the military, including the soldiers on the ground, FOR LOSING. That’s what he means when he calls them losers.

    Trump doesn’t hate war. Fergawdsakes, is there anything in his personality that would make that believable? Of course not. He just believes America should use the massive force at its disposal to “win” them.

    Soldiers are losers and suckers for joining up in the first place when they could be making money and for getting injured and dying and for losing any battles and wars in which they participate. You see, if he ever went to war, he’d WIN! That’s all that matters.”

    7
  25. Michael Reynolds says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    End result: not a single mind was changed on either side

    As I said in the other thread, this won’t reduce the 42% by much – cults of personality by their very nature tend to end in a bunker with Der Führer, (Jim Jones, David Koresh, Heaven’s Gate) – but it makes his path back to 46% that much harder. It also make a Trumpist coup all but impossible – coups don’t get far without the army.

    Right now the popular vote is at about 50/42. Late deciders do not rush en masse to incumbents. And this just made it less likely than any significant number of ‘undecideds’ will choose Trump. All we need to win the popular vote is: nothing. We’re going to win the popular vote. But then, we won the popular vote last time.

    It’s still down to FL, PA, WI and MI and Charlie Cook has all four states leaning Blue. In the parallel, Lean Republican columns Cook has IA, OH and TX. The toss-ups are AZ, GA, NC and the stand-alone Maine district. Cook has Biden at 308 EV’s. Far from a done deal, but this did not make it any easier for Trump to win any of the toss-ups, let alone take a Democratic-leaning state.

    11
  26. Lounsbury says:

    @Scott F.: Yes. HarvardLaw is being too dismissive.

    For the pre-sold partisan bases, yes, there’s not going to be any movement, however

    Further as the Trump loving partisans are a narrower base than the opposite, on the motivation factor, except something outrageously untrue or unfair, it seems rather doubtful there’s more motivation factor.

    Contra other factors this is the sort of item that has a likely acidic effect on the floaters, to hedge against late breaking decisions in favour of Trump. As the State level polls suggest in the States in play are narrow, such that eroding Trump support by even a mere single percentage point further puts him in deficit and makes 2016 repeat less likely. Of course it is equally very important to kill Trumpism by not merely Trump losing but losing badly, a big red L for him.

    It also puts Trump on backfoot for a while, keeping his attacks on Biden out of the general news cycle. That also helps run the clock which in this context is favourable to Biden, the less chance of error or dirty play to have effect (as 2016 showed not a trivial concern).

    7
  27. RCCA says:

    A lot of commenters here are probably do not personally know how unpopular the Viet Nam War was and that the general attitude of young people at the time was extremely anti-military. In fact there was no shame at that time in expressing the belief that only losers or dumb people volunteered to go to Viet Nam, which is of course why the draft was required.

    I don’t know what Trump said but I suspect he was referring to that period and not to all soldiers as the media would want us to think.

    1
  28. Michael Cain says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    You have two fundamentally incompatible viewpoints about what the country should look like, which are at war with each other, that have only grown more Balkanized over time.

    And each side still believes that they can impose their will on the other side. This could drag out for a long time.

    1
  29. @Scott F.: Excellent point.

    @Michael Reynolds: Agreed.

  30. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: If it helps any, I was wondering what about the story was salacious, too. I guess the allegation about not wanting to go to the ceremony because he didn’t want his hair to get wet might be moving in that sort off way to someone with a hair fetish (recalling the last scene with George Peppard and Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s), but as fetishists go, that would be one sick little puppy. 🙁

    1
  31. Gustopher says:

    @RCCA:

    I don’t know what Trump said but I suspect he was referring to that period and not to all soldiers as the media would want us to think.

    You might want to read the story in the Atlantic then, as it puts the comments in perspective. For instance, some of the comments were in France where few US servicemen died during the Vietnam war.

    There is also reporting that he threatened to cut one of his kids out of the will if they joined the military. Sourced to his niece Mary, if I remember correctly.

    Maybe do some homework before coming up with excuses, so you know if your excuses are at all relevant?

    11
  32. Michael Reynolds says:

    @RCCA:
    Oh is that the new fall-back defensive line for Trumpies? He only shit on Vietnam vets? It was only wounded Nam vets he thought were too disgusting to participate in parades? Thoughts he expressed to the father of a dead soldier at his graveside? Thoughts he used as an excuse to refuse to visit a WW1 cemetery?

    It was never OK or widely-accepted, even by the anti-war students, or VVAW (John Kerry among them), to deride vets or draftees as losers or suckers, we – and yeah, I was one of those people – felt sorry for draftees. We were acutely aware that it was poor people fighting and dying.

    My father, a soldier, did two tours in Vietnam and his reassurance to us was that it was mostly draftees who died, and he was a career soldier. True, of course. It was mostly draftees, people taken out of their lives to serve their country, who chose, rather than running to Canada to stay and to do what their country asked of them. You know: suckers.

    18
  33. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    And I’d wager that they didn’t opt out of voting because they’re undecided. They opted out because they’ve become convinced that there is no point in bothering to vote in the first place.

    Can’t speak for everyone, but… yeah, that rings a bell.

    3
  34. mattbernius says:

    @RCCA:

    In fact there was no shame at that time in expressing the belief that only losers or dumb people volunteered to go to Viet Nam, which is of course why the draft was required.

    I don’t know what Trump said but I suspect he was referring to that period and not to all soldiers as the media would want us to think.

    Hmmm, so you seem to be suggesting that Trump was only referring to people who volunteered to go to Vietnam.

    So you don’t think he was also referring to the people who honorably accepted when their draft number came up and didn’t opt to flee the country or get medical exceptions. Don’t you think given the term suckers, that Trump thinks that finding a way to avoid the draft (like he did) was actually the right thing to do?

    And if so, how do you square this with the attacks that Republicans and Conservatives historically made on Vietnam “draft dodgers” (see for example the critiques of Bill Clinton in 1992)?

    Again, genuinely curious to understand your perspective a bit more.

    7
  35. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    I’m pretty sure someone thought “salacious” meant “scurrilous.”

    Trump’s said and done plenty of salacious things, but this wasn’t one of them.

    I’m totally sure he didn’t want to chance mussing up his golden tresses just to visit a cemetery full of suckers and losers. That gigantic bald patch he combs over might become visible.

    2
  36. Mister Bluster says:

    @RCCA:..I don’t know what Trump said but I suspect he was referring to that period and not to all soldiers as the media would want us to think.

    Trump cancelled a visit to Aisne-Marne American Cemetery. Final resting place of WWI American soldiers.
    Trump was in the Arlington National Cemetery near the grave of Robert Kelley who was killed in Afghanistan in 2010.
    The Arlington National Cemetery is the resting place of the dead of the nation’s conflicts beginning with the Civil War, as well as reinterred dead from earlier wars.
    Trump falsely claimed he never called John McCain a ‘loser.’ Just check his Twitter account.
    Trump’s tweets calling McCain “a loser” and “not a hero” are on record.

    7
  37. Sleeping Dog says:

    @RCCA:

    I would hazard the guess that better than half the regular commentators here were draft eligible during the Viet Nam war. Some went others, myself included, hid out on student deferments (along w/Dick Cheney and Bill Clinton) or we had cousins/brothers/guys from HS that went. Some of us protested the war and wrongly blamed our peers who went. But life is funny and today I doubt that you will find one anti-war activist from that time who would now blame those who were in the military and not at the top ranks of the Pentagon.

    Cadet bone spurs like Dick Cheney didn’t care about the war one way or the other, it was an inconvenience to be avoided.

    6
  38. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: The giant bald patch (made even larger by hair plug removal for transplanting up higher if my guess is correct) certainly would argue against hair fetish. But it would explain not wanting to go. (And the hair fetishist would still be… well, let’s just not go there, come to think of it.)

    @Sleeping Dog: Well, Dick Chaney “had more important things to do” and Trump had his “own personal Viet Nam” in Midtown at the time. It’s not like they were really shirking or anything.

    2
  39. wr says:

    @mattbernius: “Again, genuinely curious to understand your perspective a bit more.”

    His “perspective” isn’t that complicated: “Leave Trumpie alloooooooone!”

    The rest of it is just bullshit rationalization. Trump good.

    6
  40. dmichael says:

    @RCCA: Others have already dealt with you inane attempt to excuse Trump. But you reveal you have no interest in actual history. The Vietnam War took place over a period of approximately ten years (1965 to 1975). During that time public opinion about it varied but until the Tet Offensive, the public generally supported it. It took lots of body bags coming home and the lying of Nixon and Kissinger to turn the public. The attitude of even the young ranged from “super patriots” to the anti-war activists. The draft was necessary because not enough willing cannon fodder was available.

    9
  41. Kingdaddy says:

    I can’t say how many “persuadables” there are, but the Military Times poll indicates there are certainly some. Usually, active duty servicepeople lean Republican, not Democrat.

    1
  42. steve says:

    “A lot of commenters here are probably do not personally know how unpopular the Viet Nam War was and that the general attitude of young people at the time was extremely anti-military. ”

    Was a Navy Corpsman during the Vietnam period, at the end, but never got sent in country. I would say that the general attitude of young people was positive. The attitude of young people in well to do colleges was negative. That percolated out a bit but I sincerely doubt that we ever had more than half of young people “anti-military”. Anti-Vietnam War? That would be a bit different.

    Steve

    5
  43. RCCA says:

    @dmichael: @dmichael: Tet Offensive was in 1968. For the majority of the period you cited ’65-’75 the opinion of young people was extremely negative towards the war. The war actually spanned from 1955-1975 and the only time I can recall debating it was when I was in elementary school, the early 60’s. The so called super patriots you mention were the rare exception, not even close to equal in numbers or voice of anti-war activists. The people who volunteered to serve generally were sons of military families. The idea that opinion of young people towards the war was mixed is absurd.
    Anyone who dares to discuss the historical facts is worthy of insult and contempt when those facts explain that what Trump said is not how it is being interpreted by the press. As I said I do not know what he did say. It’s the reflexive automatic rejection of honest debate and uncritical prejudice I find so offensive and disturbing.

  44. RCCA says:

    @steve: I went to a well to do college in the NE and that is probably where the anti-war sentiment was strongest. I think the point is there was a lot blurring of the anti-war sentiment and anti-military sentiment. Among people I knew the general attitude was that anyone with half a brain would avoid going into the military, no offense. I’m not defending that, just stating a fact. And that negativity carried over to the returning soldiers who were not treated well for their service, unfortunately. This is widely known.

    2
  45. RCCA says:

    @Mister Bluster: Trump’s relationship with John McCain is not centered on McCain’s military service. There is so much more there because of McCain’s insistence on getting the US involved in the Syria civil war, his support and arming of jihadis, etc.
    We all agree that Trump is not a diplomatic guy.
    In a lot of ways McCain was a goof ball and showboater, super ambitious and lacking actual ability for the job he aspired to — the presidency. But we weren’t allowed to criticize him because of his special status as war hero. So that’s the question, how much of a genuine hero was he, how great was he? How much legislation did he actually get passed for all his years in Congress? It was minimal.

  46. Mister Bluster says:

    @RCCA:..…when those facts explain that what Trump said is not how it is being interpreted by the press. As I said I do not know what he did say.

    You state that you “do not know what Trump said” but you claim “that what Trump said (that you admit that YOU DO NOT KNOW) is not how it is being interpreted by the press.”

    How can you know that the interpretation by the press is incorrect if you do not know what Trump said?

    7
  47. Gromitt Gunn says:

    Seems kind of ironic to have soneone who moved his family to Europe to escape Trump’s America to criticize others for overreacting to his excesses.

    6
  48. RCCA says:

    @mattbernius: You are absolutely right that the general attitude was that people who showed up at their draft boards and served were seen as sorry rubes. The deal with Trump is that he’s a New Yorker and NY’ers often speak in a sarcastic tone, it’s kind of an innate irony. If he said those guys who were killed in Vietnam were suckers that’s not necessarily a put down of them, it could have been said with a sense of irony and remorse for how they were treated at the time. Again, I don’t know what he said, but coming from the East coast I know I have sometimes gotten in trouble for using irony or sarcasm which is not recognized as such.

  49. Michael Reynolds says:

    @RCCA:

    For the majority of the period you cited ’65-’75 the opinion of young people was extremely negative towards the war.

    The facts. Gallup polled college kids in 1969. This is after Tet. After the Chicago convention riots. After every rational person – including my soldier father – knew it was a lost cause.

    Q: Do you approve or disapprove of the way President Nixon is handling the situation in Vietnam?

    All adults: 64% approve, 24% disapprove.
    College students: 50% approve, 44% disapprove.

    Even in 1969 the disapprove number among college students – with the draft still in force – was just 44%.

    ETA: You say: “The idea that opinion of young people towards the war was mixed is absurd.” You are quite clearly wrong.

    6
  50. Michael Reynolds says:

    @RCCA:

    irony or sarcasm

    When you get done admitting that you were wrong about public opinion during Vietnam, maybe you can explain the ‘irony or sarcasm’ in Trump dismissing wounded veterans as unpleasant to look at and unwelcome in his parade?

    You’re a Trump cultie, don’t waste our time trying to pretend your interest is in fair debate.

    5
  51. RCCA says:

    @Michael Reynolds: You certainly mash a lot of stuff together as if either all the claims against Trump must be correct. It’s been documented by numerous people including John Bolton (who is not a Trumpie) that Trump did not refuse to visit the WWI cemetery. All the nonsense about his hair is absurd.
    Your claim, “It was never OK or widely-accepted, even by the anti-war students, or VVAW (John Kerry among them), to deride vets or draftees as losers or suckers,” was not born out when those soldiers returned home, they were derided at airports, rejected by society at home. They were not respected. That caused a lot of mental health problems and homelessness, etc.
    It’s interesting to read the comments here and see that what matters is not what Trump actually said or did but rather to use the narrative that he insulted the military as a way to get votes for Biden. There’s nothing admirable about that.

  52. RCCA says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I’m not defending that comment about not seeing amputees as being nice. He’s brutally honest. You seem to forget that Trump has never been a politician. If you want someone who never gets anything done for the people or the nation, only his own cronies and family but is soothing, then vote for Biden.

  53. Michael Reynolds says:

    More facts.

    The generation gap in attitudes toward the Vietnam War did not erode over time. Gallup surveys conducted between 1965 and 1973 show that over time people of all ages increasingly expressed the view that U.S. involvement in Vietnam was a mistake, but the broadest criticism always came from older generations. In August of 1965, people ages 50 and older were already twice as likely as those under 30 (by a 29% to 15% margin) to say sending troops to Vietnam was a mistake. Nearly eight years later, as U.S. forces were about to be completely withdrawn, majorities in all age groups saw Vietnam as a mistake, but younger people remained far less likely to take this view (53%) than those age 50 and older (69%).

    5
  54. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @Sleeping Dog: I was draft-eligible when I graduated college and, in 1971, I was classified 1-A. It was my good fortune that I had a draft number high enough to keep me from being called up. I would’ve gone, because I was then (and still am) patriotic. My father later told me he was very glad I wasn’t drafted; by then, he was convinced Vietnam was a stupid war.

    2
  55. Michael Reynolds says:

    So glad you decided to try the ‘spitting on veterans’ bullshit.

    More actual evidence:

    Lembcke contrasts the absence of credible evidence of spitting by anti-war activists with the large body of evidence showing a mutually supportive, empathetic relationship between veterans and anti-war forces.

    In The Spitting Image, Lembcke acknowledges that he cannot prove the negative—that no Vietnam veteran was ever spat on—saying it is hard to imagine there not being expressions of hostility between veterans and activists.[12] “I cannot, of course, prove to anyone’s satisfaction that spitting incidents like these did not happen. Indeed, it seems likely to me that it probably did happen to some veteran, some time, some place. But while I cannot prove the negative, I can prove the positive: I can show what did happen during those years and that that historical record makes it highly unlikely that the alleged acts of spitting occurred in the number and manner that is now widely believed.”

    So I blew a hole in your repeated statements about youth opinion, and now there’s a big old hole in your ‘spitting on veterans in airports’ bullshit. You will of course acknowledge neither, and you won’t correct your misstatements, which rather destroys your baloney about wanting fair debate.

    You’re a Trumpie. Cut the crap. Read the room: you don’t have the candlepower.

    7
  56. RCCA says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I appreciate your effort but at this point we all know that polls are not reliable. Not saying that poll is right or wrong just that it’s pointless to put too much weight on it. We can agree no matter what the numbers were that the country was deeply divided on the Vietnam war. Trump was from the NE, and clearly was very opposed. So, no he wasn’t a typical conservative Republican back then.

  57. RCCA says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Obviously there are different experiences and some disaggreement. I’m not sure what Lembcke is trying to say. Check this out from NJ vets: https://youtu.be/X_x2Yl7xW8U What Was It Like Returning Home From the Vietnam War? – Oral Histories from NJ Vietnam Veterans
    I had a history teacher in high school, Mr. Noam Rosen, who used to tell us all the time, “History is not what happened but what people think happened.”

    PS You didn’t blow a hole in anything I said.

  58. Michael Reynolds says:

    @RCCA:

    we all know that polls are not reliable

    No, we don’t know any such thing.

    Really, dude, f–k off with your eye-rollingly transparent high school freshman arguments. You made categorical statements about public opinion and now dismiss the only actual evidence we have of public opinion. You offer zero evidence of your own. And now you’re what, hoping we won’t notice that you’ve walked back from youth being ‘extremely’ opposed and ridiculing the possibility that the truth might be more nuanced, all the way to ‘We can agree no matter what the numbers were that the country was deeply divided’?

    So not all what you said to begin with. Right? Right.

    Just go ahead and say it: fake news! Come on, you know you want to. Anything that conflicts with cult leader’s latest idiot ramblings is fake news. You’re fooling exactly nobody, we all know what you are, we all know you’re making things up out of thin air – par for the course for you people – and we can all see that you just aren’t bright enough to pull this off. You may be Lucianne.com smart, but out here in the real world? You got nothin’.

    12
  59. Mister Bluster says:

    @RCCA:..what matters is not what Trump actually said

    Which you have repeatedly stated that you do not know

    4
  60. RCCA says:

    @Michael Reynolds: “as U.S. forces were about to be completely withdrawn, majorities in all age groups saw Vietnam as a mistake,…”
    Why does it matter to you that there is a difference in the opposition in age groups? Are you splitting hairs for no reason?

  61. RCCA says:

    @Mister Bluster: But you are certain of what he said? Based on reporting of anonymous sources as reported by The Atlantic, some of which has already been refuted.

  62. Michael Cain says:

    Mine was the year that avoided the draft at the last minute. I had a low number — would have been in the first group of inductees. Had my pre-induction physical in December. I was lining up my choices to stay out of Viet Nam with about two weeks to go: Canada, get married*, or sign on for four years in the Air Force**.

    * The student deferment was gone by that point but the marriage deferment was still in force. There was a group of young women in Lincoln who would voluntarily marry draft-eligible men (at least in name) in order to keep them out of the Army.

    ** The AF recruiter said, “We put people with your skill set in nice, safe places where you can program the computers, or supervise the civilians who are programming.” I didn’t want to be in the military at all — as my mother used to say, “You’ve always had a problem with authority, starting in kindergarten.” The Air Force seemed the least military of the lot.

    3
  63. mattbernius says:

    @RCCA:

    The deal with Trump is that he’s a New Yorker and NY’ers often speak in a sarcastic tone, it’s kind of an innate irony.

    Interesting. I’m actually a New Yorker too — I was born on Long Island and spent my formative years there (in the bourghs and Manhatten). I worked in the city at various points. I’m still an New Yorker, albiet on the other side of the State. And, at least for us New Yorkers, “Sucker” has a very specific meaning. And also, having known Trump for most of my life, I’m having a hard time picking out his using irony in any specific way. I can account for lots of times where he used “sucker” to talk about idiots and fools who got taken for a bad deal (usually of their own making). In fact, that was most of his campaign rhetoric.

    But perhaps you can find an example where he used the term with a sense of irony and remorse. Or frankly any terms with a sense of irony and remorse. I am personally struggling to come up with a time that I have ever seen President Trump express anything remotely similar to a common definition of “remorse” but I might be missing something. Or perhaps we have different personal interpretations of that term.

    Also, if you accept that all the currently verified parts of the report are true (and it’s been confirmed by multiple news outlets including Fox) it also appears that his language and meaning are part of a much broader pattern of behavior that should shape our interpretation.

    Beyond that, I’m really curious about your position of Trump’s apparent seeing avoiding service in Vietnam as “not being a sucker.” Again, having grown up in the 80’s and 90’s, and also listening to a lot of both local and National Conservative talk radio, my understanding is that answering the call of duty and not dodging the draft was seen as the correct and virtuous thing. I am sure you will agree that it was a major point that was held against Bill Clinton.

    Also, as you seem to be holding the position that is sympathetic to the idea of people who served willingly (including going along with the draft) were in fact poor suckers (albiet in an ironic and remorseful sense), perhaps you can explain why many, including President Trump were so critical of John Kerry’s history and his attempts to help stop the war.

    I ask this because to an outside observer this sudden attempt to redefine the meaning of service in Vietnam really seems to be like a lot of tap dancing to come up with a way to excuse an individual’s behavior because he is currently the President of a given political persuasions party. That said I could be missing something and would love further clarification.

    12
  64. mattbernius says:

    @RCCA:

    Based on reporting of anonymous sources as reported by The Atlantic, some of which has already been refuted.

    Fox News confirmed that section of the story. And in fact, very little of the story has been fully refuted. The best that the President has is that John Bolton stated that something wasn’t said in his presence, but that “it could have happened later in the day when I wasn’t there” and “That sounds like something Donald would say.”

    Or, if you have example of reportage that fully refutes those statements, please share. Extra points if that reporting doesn’t also rely on anonymous sources.

    9
  65. @RCCA:

    The deal with Trump is that he’s a New Yorker and NY’ers often speak in a sarcastic tone, it’s kind of an innate irony.

    Speaking sarcastically, or even ironically, does not mean that one gets a pass on being an asshole.

    I do not understand the notion that “he’s a New Yorker” is some kind of defense of the words that come out of his mouth.

    14
  66. Gustopher says:

    @mattbernius:

    Don’t you think given the term suckers, that Trump thinks that finding a way to avoid the draft (like he did) was actually the right thing to do?

    For a war that you find immoral… yes?

    I think you have other obligations at that point beyond just pretending to have bone spurs, and there’s no evidence that Trump found the war immoral as opposed to just beneath him, but in a narrow answer to your question, yes.

    “Suckers” suggests that he just found the actual “going to war and being a soldier” thing beneath him though.

    A reasonable person doesn’t consider all the people killed by WWI as “suckers” even though the war was a complete waste. “Victims” might be a better term for people who went off to fight for their country and ultimately accomplished nothing because the whole war was stupid.

    3
  67. Gustopher says:

    @RCCA:

    It’s interesting to read the comments here and see that what matters is not what Trump actually said or did but rather to use the narrative that he insulted the military as a way to get votes for Biden. There’s nothing admirable about that.

    Voting for Biden is the only way to get rid of the morally unfit, criminal and ineffective President we have.

    It might have been nice if Republicans would have cleaned up the mess of their own making by primarying him, or voting to impeach, or even just not supporting him, but here we are.

    Voting for the opposition is how Americans reject the current government. Why do you hate America?

    6
  68. An Interested Party says:

    As I said I do not know what he did say.

    Than perhaps you shouldn’t criticize what anyone else said about him until you know what he did say…

    Trump’s relationship with John McCain is not centered on McCain’s military service.

    Oh? Than why did Trump specifically criticize him for his military service?

    @Gromitt Gunn: You noticed that too? I mean, talk about an overreaction…

    …it could have been said with a sense of irony and remorse…

    BWHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!! When has Donald Trump shown ANY remorse for ANYTHING? We’ll wait…

    It’s interesting to read the comments here and see that what matters is not what Trump actually said or did but rather to use the narrative that he insulted the military as a way to get votes for Biden. There’s nothing admirable about that.

    Bullshit…we all know (including you) that Trump is a scumbag…what’s really interesting is that we all know this is something he would say, even if there is no verifiable proof he said it, because that is just the kind of person he is, as he has shown, again, again, and again…

    4
  69. mattbernius says:

    @Gustopher:
    Good points all around. I will definitely choose words more carefully next time. And agreed about victims versus suckers.

  70. ImProPer says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    ” If minds were going to be changed by behaviors like this, it would have happened long ago. It’s tribal now. Ideas can be debated; tribes must be defended”.

      Agree, and by  a long time ago, a very long time ago. Debating ideas, when debating someone that is worth exerting the effort on, is a worthwhile challenge, and mutually  beneficial. A reliable tool for arriving at the truth, and strengthening one’s beliefs.  Today we have tribes with very loud voices, demanding their half of the proverbial baby, incredulous, when someone trys to go Solomon on them.
      Personally, as far as Trump is concerned, I have found him to be a despicable human being, since he launched his campaign of unabashed huberous in the early 80s. I also work in an industry, that has not done well under his presidentcy, and yet have numerous co-workers in the unemployment line, swearing he is the greatest president in our history.  That we are fortunate a man with his otherworldly business instincts, condescending to the presidentcy, and running our terrible economy. This is something I myself would never debate, merely go old school, believe my eyes and mind and conclude differently. Same goes with his alleged statements about our military dead, there is a cornucopia of circumstantial evidence, loudly put forth by himself, to reach a clear judgment as to who he is.

      
     

    1
  71. wr says:

    @RCCA: “It was never OK or widely-accepted, even by the anti-war students, or VVAW (John Kerry among them), to deride vets or draftees as losers or suckers,” was not born out when those soldiers returned home, they were derided at airports, rejected by society at home. They were not respected. That caused a lot of mental health problems and homelessness, etc.”

    Here we go, the standard right wing Big Lie — “returning troops were spit on!!!” Doesn’t matter how many times it was debunked, you keep dragging it up. Although I do love the addition that when returning troops had mental problems, it wasn’t because of the insanity and horror of what they’d been through, it was because some hippie was mean to them!

    4
  72. wr says:

    @RCCA: “He’s brutally honest. ”

    Saying “the American government lied its way into a war and these young men and women paid a horrible price for our deceit” — that’s brutally honest.

    Saying “get those crips out of my face because they disgust me” — that’s a pig.

    7
  73. wr says:

    @RCCA: “Trump was from the NE, and clearly was very opposed.”

    Trump was not “clearly very opposed to the war.” He was “clearly very opposed” to him participating in the war. These are not the same thing.

    12
  74. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @RCCA: Look at you– in here on your knees providing toddler translation for a man you claim is ‘brutally honest’ Since he’s so brutally honest, WTF are you here providing translation, nuance, and context? He says what he means and means what he says. The guy believes people that join the military are dumb and our war dead, and wounded are sucker and losers–period the end.

    For the record, anyone with even a Kindergartners understanding of citizenship doesn’t need to have been a politician to know insulting things other people hold dear is a sure road to not having anyone to work with to get anything done.

    Now get your get your shine box and run along to a more sympathetic corner of the internet.

    17
  75. wr says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: “I do not understand the notion that “he’s a New Yorker” is some kind of defense of the words that come out of his mouth.”

    Right wingers use this on their base, who have never left Fritters, Arkansas, and believe that all New Yorkers are Italian mobsters, Jewish bankers or black welfare cheats. And of course some Trumpies figure if it plays in Fritters, it will play anywhere.

    2
  76. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @RCCA: Also for the record–anyone that has been the CEO of a real company–not some mom&pop operation–knows that the job is MOSTLY about politics of that particular company and industry. Trump shitting all over himself everytime he opens his mouth has nothing to do with never having been a politician. He’s an imbecile–and should be the photo in the wikipedia article of white privilege.

    No black man has ever gone so far with so little—

    17
  77. Jax says:

    @Jim Brown 32: I freakin love you, man. I’ve been waiting all day for you to check in on the comments and see what the cat dragged in, and you did not disappoint. 🙂

    10
  78. mattbernius says:

    @mattbernius:

    Or, if you have example of reportage that fully refutes those statements, please share. Extra points if that reporting doesn’t also rely on anonymous sources.

    Update, I now see that Pompeo and Grinnell have gone on record denying some of this (though not, I believe the “Suckers”, story).

  79. Jax says:

    @mattbernius: They can go on the record all they want, we know they lie just like their boss.

    6
  80. ImProPer says:

    @RCCA:

    “He’s brutally honest. You seem to forget that Trump has never been a politician.”

    “Not true. He has been one for almost 4 years now, and a caricature of what he promised to fight.” As far as him being “brutally honest”, wow, with all due respect, can you come up with an example that leads you to this conclusion?

    “So, no he wasn’t a typical conservative Republican back then.”

    And he isn’t one now, and any conservative Republicans with the courage of their conviction are “never trumpers”. Those that are still in the party, have gleefully shed theirs to bask in their messiah’s new gospel of antinomianism.

    4
  81. senyordave says:

    @Jim Brown 32: Now get your get your shine box and run along to a more sympathetic corner of the internet.
    Big shout out for a shine box reference. But remember what happened to the guy who actually made the shine box comment!

    2
  82. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Jax: [Tips Hat]

    2
  83. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @RCCA: My brother joined in 1965 specifically to go to Viet Nam. Did 3 tours as an Airborne Ranger. When he came back, he told me once that there was not a single thing that he did fighting the war that he was proud of having done. From what I’ve heard from other, younger but close contemporaries, every vet they’ve ever met from that period says pretty much the same thing.

    I guess it’s possible that if that was the message, it might have contributed to the souring of public opinion.

    @RCCA: I have no complaints about John McCain’s service to his country or any laurels or recognition people want to give him. He did what I and many others were unwilling to do and suffered mightily for it. I wouldn’t vote for him for Home Room Representative let alone POTUS. Let’s not get the two things confused.

    1
  84. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Michael Reynolds: @SC_Birdflyte: I’ll simply add that my very conservative–as in Goldwater supporters/purchasers of the book None Dare Call It Treason–parents were not happy to have had my brother decide to join the army specifically to go to Viet Nam and leave it at that.

    1
  85. DrDaveT says:

    @RCCA:

    If you want someone who never gets anything done for the people or the nation, only his own cronies and family but is soothing, then vote for Biden.

    There you have it, folks. You should vote for the guy who put his entirely unqualified son-in-law in charge of Middle East peace and Coronavirus response, because the other guy might be a nepotist.

    13
  86. Matt says:

    @wr:

    Although I do love the addition that when returning troops had mental problems, it wasn’t because of the insanity and horror of what they’d been through, it was because some hippie was mean to them!

    For bonus points RCCA ignores the reality that modern veterans are dealing with the very same issues. Homelessness and mental issues are a HUGE problem with the Iraq and Afghanistan vets right now. It’s clear that the dirty hippies aren’t causing that problem…

    7
  87. steve says:

    “Among people I knew the general attitude was that anyone with half a brain would avoid going into the military, no offense. I’m not defending that, just stating a fact. And that negativity carried over to the returning soldiers who were not treated well for their service, unfortunately. This is widely known.”

    Among the people I knew it was generally considered an obligation to serve if your country was at war. The huge majority of people thought that joining the military was an honorable thing to do. What is widely known by everyone except conservatives is that college students in the NE and on the West cost make up a tiny percentage of the population. In most of the country you didnt face mistreatment when you came home. I lived through it. This is not to say that there was not some mistreatment. There was and some of it was pretty cruel. Self righteous college students can be pretty nasty. What you did see a lot in the military at the time was a lot of doubt among those serving and those who got out about why we went there and what we accomplished.

    BTW, I was a corpsman. At first I worked with returning POWs. It was considered an honor to care for those people. You were actually called an honor corpsman if you did that. Then I worked on the psych wards for a couple of years. We had lots of guys traumatized by that war. We had guys traumatized by seeing their friends die. Having to shoot a 12 y/o. All the amputees. After I got out of the Navy I worked my way through undergrad and med school working at emergency mental health centers. Some person being mean to them in an airport didnt have them end up suicidal talking with us. What happened to them and their friends in Vietnam did that. That plus the usual stuff that happened back home while they were deployed.

    Steve

    7
  88. Michael Reynolds says:

    I suspect we’ve met @RCCA before. I forget the person’s screen name, but the moronic debate style is very familiar. Lie, back up, lie again, pretend you didn’t hear all the countervailing evidence, repeat the same talking points. It’s like arguing with a not very bright AI: almost sounds human, then, nope. Like yelling at Siri: No, FFS Siri, I just said seriously.

    4
  89. Just nutha ignint crackerd says:

    @Matt: I wouldn’t be so quick to jump on that horse. Have you any idea how many dirty hippies grew up to be banksters, vulture capitalists, and speculators in residential property with mostly libertarian-leaning economic philosophies? I do. 😉

    2
  90. Barry says:

    @HarvardLaw92: “It depends on the lens. You’re predisposed to view any gaffe as validation of your dislike for him. His supporters are predisposed to view it in a very different way. That said, this is by no means new ground for him. Just not sure what the point was in calling attention to it beyond “See?? My team good, their team bad””

    The ‘why’ has been covered, for those who care to read.

  91. dazedandconfused says:

    Scott F.

    Excellent point. Getting McConnell into the position of minority leader is just as important as getting President Beeblebrox out of the White House.

    https://i2.wp.com/knowledgesource.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/zb.jpg?resize=1024%2C576&ssl=1

    3
  92. al Ameda says:

    In my opinion Trump supporters have already pre-rationalized away all the stories of corruption, sexual harrassment, and now, the anti military service comments.

    Right now they don’t care, they’re getting what they want. They’ll care again if aDemocrat is in the White House.

    2
  93. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint crackerd:
    Practically all of ’em, in my acquaintance.

  94. CSK says:

    @al Ameda:
    Some of them rationalize them away. The others claim they’re Fake News, vicious lies disseminated by globalist Commies who want to deny a second term to The Greatest President We’ve Ever Had.