Donald Trump’s National Security Speech Was As Substance-Free As The Rest Of His Campaign

What was promoted as major foreign policy speech by Donald Trump turned out to be more substance-free stream-of-consciousness rambling from an egomaniac.

Donald Trump Leads Rally For US Military At USS Iowa

Last night in California, Donald Trump gave what was billed beforehand as a major national security speech that, not surprisingly, turned out to be as substance-free as the rest of his Presidential campaign:

LOS ANGELES — Republican presidential contender Donald Trump vowed Tuesday to offer frustrated veterans subsidized private health care, charging that immigrants in the country illegally receive better care than the nation’s wounded soldiers.

The comments, delivered aboard a retired World War II battleship in Los Angeles harbor, came on the eve of the second Republican presidential debate in nearby Simi Valley, where some of the billionaire businessman’s GOP rivals are expected to challenge his fiery rhetoric on immigration.

“We have illegal immigrants that are treated better by far than our veterans,” Trump declared, the USS Iowa’s massive 16-inch guns behind him. “It’s not going to happen anymore.”

The Republican front-runner gave no details on how he would pay for an expansion in the armed forces — or veterans’ health care — leaving his foreign policy agenda still mostly a blank slate.

He called for a military buildup so broad that no foe would challenge the U.S., as well as a new health care deal for veterans stuck on waiting lists in hospitals run by the Department of Veterans Affairs. In doing so, he again swiped at people who are in the country illegally, a refrain that has powered his campaign since the start.

“There’s tremendous crime, there’s tremendous drugs pouring across the border,” Trump said. “We’re going to build a wall.”

As The Los Angeles Times goes on to note, there was almost no substances to Trump’s speech, although that’s not entirely surprising considering that it was really more of a campaign rally in front of the retired battleship USS Iowa than something that could be taken seriously. In the past, candidates who have wished to make serious foreign policy speeches have gone to serious places, such as The Citadel or another university, a prominent foreign policy think tank, or even one of the service academies. In Trump’s case, he went to tourist destination and gave a fifteen minute speech after having been introduced by former game show host Wink Martindale. At the end of the speech, he spent several minutes tossing some of his “Make America Great Again” baseball caps out to the obsequiously adoring audience. Anyone who thought that this was going to be a serious address from Trump was basically kidding themselves. Even CNN’s Anderson Cooper ended up cutting away from the network’s live coverage of the speech when it became clear that there was no substance involved. Why anyone should have been shocked by that, of course, is another question.

Daniel Larison has his own comments:

[T]here were almost no arguments or proposals in the speech to be described or judged one way or the other. He repeated various falsehoods about the nuclear deal, including the canard that Iran will be permitted to “self-inspect,” and made many of the same broad, unfounded assertions about the agreement that he made at the rally in Washington last week. Trump’s event was newsworthy mainly because he received the endorsement of the event’s organizers, the group called Veterans for a Strong America, and told us absolutely nothing useful about what he would in office or how he would propose to pay for any of it. It was nothing more than a string of fanciful assertions that various problems would be solved because Trump claims it will be so, and the assembled crowd ate it up. Trump is hardly the only candidate in the 2016 field with a poor grasp of foreign policy, but he is unusual in that he repeatedly advertises how little he knows and takes pride in his simplistic statements.

None of this should be a surprise, of course, because Trump’s entire campaign has been nothing more than substance-free, stream-of-consciousness rambling during which the candidate tells how horrible his opponents, how horrible the country is, and how great things will be when he’s elected President. His immigration plan, the one area where he has released something that at least seems on the surface to be substantive, is little more that boilerplate stuff that we’ve seen from the anti-immigrant “border security” wing of the Republican Party for years now. The rest of his rhetoric just involves appealing to the worst aspects of the people he’s talking to and American politics in general. Furthermore, his past statements on foreign policy haven’t revealed that he has any real understanding of what’s going on the world, what international diplomacy actually involves, and how he could even accomplish any of the things that are included in the vague promises he tosses out voters. Last night’s speech at the USS Iowa, then, was just par for the course when it comes to Trump. The fact that so many people in the Republican Party seem to be attracted says far more about the state of the GOP than it does about anything else.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2016, National Security, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Pinky says:

    There’s tremendous drugs pouring across the border.

  2. CSK says:

    Trump is popular for the same reasons Hitler, Mussolini, and any other totalitarian bully-boy dictator you can name was popular. Sad to see it happening here.

    Seriously…Wink Martindale???? Was Chuck Barris unavailable?

  3. Jack says:

    Popular…like that unknown senator from Illinois who had no voting record and essentially ran on “CHANGE!”.

  4. grumpy realist says:

    @Jack: And who actually accomplished something. What has Trump accomplished on his own, besides being a reality-show host and a narcissistic fool who managed to run a casino so badly he bankrupted it.

    Trump bankrupted a CASINO. Y’know, one of those things that people bring money to for the pleasure of throwing it away on a slot machine?

    Just that shows how incompetent Trump is.

  5. Jack says:

    @grumpy realist: Um, Obama had not accomplished ANYTHING before being named a candidate for president. No-THING.

    You can have your own opinions, not your own facts.

    Since 1991, Trump-related companies have filed for corporate bankruptcy four separate times. Filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy allows a corporation—which is legally distinct of its shareholders, owners, board, and C.E.O.—to stay in business while it re-structures and attempts to reduce its debt.

  6. gVOR08 says:

    @grumpy realist: And there are estimates he’d be a billion or so richer had he taken the money he inherited and invested it in an ETF.

  7. al-Ameda says:

    @Jack:

    Popular…like that unknown senator from Illinois who had no voting record and essentially ran on “CHANGE!”.

    Well, that’s funny, because I was reminded of the president prior to Obama, the one who unfurled that “Mission Accomplished” banner aboard the Lincoln.

  8. Mikey says:

    he repeatedly advertises how little he knows and takes pride in his simplistic statements

    This explains pretty much everything about Trump’s current prominence in the Republican party.

  9. Jack says:

    @al-Ameda:

    Well, that’s funny, because I was reminded of the president prior to Obama, the one who unfurled that “Mission Accomplished” banner aboard the Lincoln.

    Meanwhile I’m reminded of the president that drew a red line in the sand (using Moochelle’s lipstick) on Syrian chemical weapons. Or the president that claimed to have been to 57 states. Or that one president that said if you like your doctor and you like your health care plan you could keep it. Or, maybe, maybe that president that called ISIS the JV team.

  10. CB says:

    @Jack:

    Except for the clearly voiced policy platform, insane non sequiturs, and misogyny, you’re totally right!

  11. michael reynolds says:

    @Jack:

    What’s funny is just how lame that bill of indictment is after 7 years. I mean, most of that’s b.s., but even if true, that’s it? That’s what you’ve got?

    Ronald Reagan ran from terrorists in Lebanon after they killed 241 un-armed Marines, traded arms to those very terrorists, used the profits from the transaction to run illegal death squads in Central America. Not to mention helping to create the Taliban in Afghanistan and exploding the deficit. Ronald Reagan committed impeachable offenses.

  12. M. Bouffant says:

    The “veterans” group this triumph of the shallow over the substantial benefitted seems more than a little hinky. Looks like one guy who may be a Republican dirty trickster, who backed Trump when he was insulting Sen. McCain.

    That Trump really does his homework, doesn’t he?

  13. grumpy realist says:

    @Jack: And? If you run around bragging to all and sundry what a Great Businessman you are, doesn’t the fact that FOUR, count them FOUR of your companies have run into such straits that they needed the fiscal crutch called bankruptcy court cause the slightest bit of shame?

    (Oh, and I took a class on bankruptcy law in law school, so I expect I know more about the ins and out of the process than you do, sir.)

  14. J-Dub says:

    @Jack:

    Or, maybe, maybe that president that called ISIS the JV team.

    Assuming the US military is the Varsity, that would make the Chinese and Russian militaries the JV and ISIS, I don’t know, maybe the water boy?

  15. Modulo Myself says:

    I read a recent interview with GWB where he explains that the most nervous moment in his presidency was throwing out a pitch at the World Series.

    A true quote: “I probably knew, instinctively, that a bounce would kind of reduce the defiance—the act of defiance toward the enemy,”

    Trump’s lack of substance is hardly original.

  16. steve says:

    Okay, first Trump has “no political experience” and we can see where the politicians have gotten us. Now it’s lack of “substance” in his speech.
    What’s lacking “substance” is what we got in return in the Iran deal … talk about a lack of substance.

  17. C. Clavin says:

    @Jack:

    Um, Obama had not accomplished ANYTHING before being named a candidate for president. No-THING

    So…you have been the first black president of the Harvard Law Review…the most prestigious in the country…and the highest student position at Harvard Law School?
    Gadzooks, man….there are homeless people who have accomplished more than you have in your sad pathetic life.
    Now…because you have no answer…make some stupid comment about bestiality or man on boy sex…and show us all just how fwcking stupid you actually are.

  18. al-Ameda says:

    @Jack:

    Meanwhile I’m reminded of the president that drew a red line in the sand (using Moochelle’s lipstick) on Syrian chemical weapons. Or the president that claimed to have been to 57 states. Or that one president that said if you like your doctor and you like your health care plan you could keep it. Or, maybe, maybe that president that called ISIS the JV team.

    I’m also reminded that the Republican Congress declined to give Obama authority to launch air strikes in Syria, and at the same time the Republican Congress was complaining that Russia would gain influence in that region.

    I’m also reminded that when the Right refers to the current first lady as “Moochelle” they don’t really have much to go on.

  19. Davebo says:

    @Jack:

    It must be tough on you Jack.

    That your guys screwed the pooch so horribly that the black guy who had accomplished NOTHING got elected president not once, but twice.

    Seriously, that’s some world class fuckup there!

  20. Tyrell says:

    Russia is on the move, this time in Syria. Turkey is in turmoil. Thousands are fleeing ISIS, flooding into Europe. I would say that these candidates had better come up with a strong foreign policy that will bring stability and coherence in the middle east. Our current leaders are into things like flags, emails, and re-naming mountains.

  21. ernieyeball says:

    @Pinky:..There’s tremendous drugs pouring across the border.

    Nobody wants bad drugs.

  22. al-Ameda says:

    @Tyrell:

    Russia is on the move, this time in Syria. Turkey is in turmoil. Thousands are fleeing ISIS, flooding into Europe

    Remember, not so long ago, when the president went to Congress and asked for authority to wage air strikes against ISIS in Syria, and Republicans declined to give him authority to do so?

    Conservatives seem to willfully “forget” this kind of stuff – why is that?

  23. James Pearce says:

    @Pinky:

    There’s tremendous drugs pouring across the border.

    Well, for what it’s worth, no one in Colorado is buying Mexican pot. I suspect the same is true in Washington.

    Those drugs pouring across the border? That’s a drug war problem, not a border problem.

  24. michael reynolds says:

    @Tyrell:

    Actually Obama just pulled off the greatest diplomatic coup since Nixon went to China. Read this then come back and talk about Obama’s foreign policy.

  25. michael reynolds says:

    I do wish those darn Mexicans would stop forcing Americans at gunpoint to consume vast quantities of drugs and pay for them with billions of dollars. Bad Mexicans! Bad!

  26. James Pearce says:

    @steve:

    What’s lacking “substance” is what we got in return in the Iran deal … talk about a lack of substance.

    Maybe you could offer a substantive critique of the Iran deal.

    Most of the complaints about the Iran deal I’ve seen haven’t been about its substance, but rather its existence. I’m sure you’ve thought a lot about this issue, so I’m curious to hear your objections.

  27. Grewgills says:

    ernieyeball
    and we do make (grow) some of the best drugs in the world right here at home. Buy American!

  28. LibSick says:

    @al-Ameda:
    Let’s see here – what is worse, unfurling a banner prematurely or pulling out of Iraq prematurely and leaving it to fall to the islamic state along with the rest of the middle east?

  29. LibSick says:

    @al-Ameda:
    No such thing ever happened. your little prince set a red line, allowed assad to stomp over it and then shook his empty head and said there was nothing he could do. There was no request to launch a serious offensive in syria – just ‘targeted airstrikes’ like the wholly ineffective ones he pretends are being lauched against the islamic state. Really, do you think he would allow them to be effective in the fight against jihad?

  30. Ben Wolf says:

    @steve:

    What’s lacking “substance” is what we got in return in the Iran deal … talk about a lack of substance.

    We got everything we wanted in exchange for American corporations extracting profits from Iran’s economy. So they’re paying us to hobble their own weapons program. I hope you can sleep soundly now.

  31. Grewgills says:

    @LibSick:
    Has Assad used chemical weapons in Syria since Obama saber rattled?
    What did Assad do with his chemical weapons stocks since Obama saber rattled?
    If you answer those two questions honestly it will be apparent why your argument is BS.

  32. Mikey says:

    @LibSick: What’s worse is going into Iraq in the first place. What’s worse is going in with no workable plan for the occupation. What’s worse is wasting 4400 of our best and bravest on an utter blundering fool’s errand. What’s worse is causing the deaths of uncounted Iraqis and trashing their country. What’s worse is ennobling and strengthening America’s adversaries. What’s worse is damaging America’s international reputation for decades to come.

    What’s worse is creating the conditions within which ISIS was able to rise.

    The stupid banner thing was the least of his problems.

  33. Pinky says:

    @ernieyeball: Please tell me that you read my comment, saw that it was humorous, and wanted to play along. If I thought you read my comment, didn’t realize it was humorous, and thought that your take on it was clever, well, that’d just be the saddest thing I’ve seen online in a long time.

  34. James Pearce says:

    @LibSick:

    pulling out of Iraq prematurely and leaving it to fall to the islamic state along with the rest of the middle east?

    Another couple years in the Middle East? That’s all it will take?

  35. Paul Hooson says:

    Let’s only hope that President Donald Trump will act as a businessman and delegate responsibility for foreign policy to a professional….

  36. Jack says:

    @grumpy realist:

    And? If you run around bragging to all and sundry what a Great Businessman you are, doesn’t the fact that FOUR, count them FOUR of your companies have run into such straits that they needed the fiscal crutch called bankruptcy court cause the slightest bit of shame?

    (Oh, and I took a class on bankruptcy law in law school, so I expect I know more about the ins and out of the process than you do, sir.)

    And Trumps bankruptcies cost what? 2-3 Billion? This from someone who supports Obama’s 9 Trillion addition to the national debt. Keep working on economics, you need some more practice.

  37. Jack says:

    @C. Clavin: I don’t have to make those comments…you know who you are and what you do, puppy pumper.

  38. michael reynolds says:

    @Jack:

    Each time you come back you’re just a bit dumber. How do you do that?

  39. Mikey says:

    @michael reynolds: He may have watched the entire Republican debate. All I saw was three snippets on the 11 o’clock news and now I can’t remember how to operate my smartphone. I can’t imagine what viewing that whole exercise in substance-free dickwaving would do to the unfortunate victim’s IQ.

  40. Franklin says:

    @Jack: Because private companies are totally comparable to the federal government. But go ahead, keep lecturing grumpy on bankrupties, it’s actually really funny to everybody.

  41. Franklin says:

    @Pinky:

    There’s tremendous drugs pouring across the border.

    I’m intrigued by this comment. Is this simply pointing out that one of the many things that Trump said might actually be partly true? Also, is it a bad thing? Is it all Obama’s fault? I’ve just GOT to know!

  42. jukeboxgrad says:

    Jack:

    someone who supports Obama’s 9 Trillion addition to the national debt

    Obama’s first fiscal year started on 10/1/09, when the debt was $11.9T. The debt is currently $18.2T. The difference between those two numbers is $6.3T. Your affinity for phony numbers is a key part of what makes you such a good Republican.

    When adjusted for inflation and the size of the economy, Obama’s borrowing is comparable to what Reagan and GWB each borrowed. IOKIYAR.

    Obama inherited the worst financial collapse in 80 years, the biggest deficit ever, and historically low tax rates. That’s the cause of his borrowing. It’s not because Obama has increased spending. Republicans are like people who pee in your house and then complain that the place stinks.

  43. ernieyeball says:

    @Pinky:..Please tell me that you read my comment, saw that it was humorous, and wanted to play along. If I thought you read my comment, didn’t realize it was humorous, and thought that your take on it was clever, well, that’d just be the saddest thing I’ve seen online in a long time.

    Yes. Huh? What? Ack! Pfft! Thptpth!

    http://images.sodahead.com/profiles/0/0/0/9/6/3/7/3/5/BILL-THE-CAT-68746413120.jpeg

  44. anjin-san says:

    @Jack:

    Obama had not accomplished ANYTHING before being named a candidate for president. No-THING.

    Obama was a bestselling author and self-made millionaire before he got involved in Presidential politics. Then there was Harvard, and Columbia. And that law review thing.

    It’s a small man who won’t give credit where credit is due.

  45. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Pinky: I can’t speak for ernieeyeball, but when I looked at your statement, I thought you were agreeing with Trump that there is a tremendous drug problem coming across the southern border of the nation.

    I almost downvoted the comment, then I realized that would be pointless because you would think people were persecuting you.

  46. anjin-san says:

    I see Pinky has joined Jenos in complaining that the other kids just don’t appreciate how very clever and funny he is.

    As any professional comedian will tell you, if you have to tell people your material is funny, it’s not funny.

  47. ernieyeball says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker:..I can’t speak for ernieeyeball,..

    Oh, go ahead. Just spell my name right would ya…

  48. Grewgills says:

    I was pretty sure Pinky was joking about Trump’s wording, since it sounded like Trump was saying that the drugs coming across the border were tremendous. I disagree with most of his politics, but he isn’t exactly a fan of Trump.

  49. @michael reynolds:

    Ronald Reagan ran from terrorists in Lebanon after they killed 241 un-armed Marines, traded arms to those very terrorists, used the profits from the transaction to run illegal death squads in Central America. Not to mention helping to create the Taliban in Afghanistan and exploding the deficit. Ronald Reagan committed impeachable offenses.

    He ran from more than just the terrorists in Lebanon, he ran from the Libyans and the Soviets too.

    And selling weapons to terrorists was more than impeachable, it was treason, and not a single person did a day in prison for it.

  50. dmhlt says:

    @Pinky:

    There’s tremendous drugs pouring across the border.

    Well, I suppose at least we can be glad they’re bringing the good stuff.

  51. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Alcohol doesn’t only kill liver cells … 😀

  52. C. Clavin says:

    @Jack:
    Thanks for proving my point.

  53. J-Dub says:

    @dmhlt: Trump: “they’re not sending their best”

  54. C. Clavin says:

    @Jack:
    The vast majority of the debt added under Obama is due to continuing obligations incurred by Republicans.
    Every time you type anything you prove how just how little you know.
    Keep typing.
    It’s fun to watch.

  55. C. Clavin says:

    As this thread is actually about Nat’l Security and not what a fool Jack is….
    Did anyone else hear JEB! made this claim about his brother?

    “He kept us safe.”

    Let’s be clear about this; more people were killed by terrorists on American soil during the Bush 43 Presidency than the entirety of American history.
    The chutzpah it takes for a Bush to take credit for keeping us safe after presiding over the devastation of 9.11 is awe-inspiring. I don’t even have to mention the 4000 troops he sent to their deaths for no reason.
    Let’s see if the journalists stenographers of this nation call him on this or not. I’m betting not.

  56. C. Clavin says:

    @C. Clavin:
    Sadly two career diplomats lost their lives in Benghazi…and Republicans would have you believe it marked the end of the free world.
    But thousands dead on 9.11…that was Bush 43 and Dick Cheney keeping us safe.
    Gadzooks that pi$$es me off…….

  57. Jack says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Thanks for proving my point.

    I think the fact you pound poodles proves the point.

  58. Pinky says:

    @Grewgills: It doesn’t matter who I support, if a candidate says something that comical, I’m laughing.

  59. al-Ameda says:

    @jukeboxgrad:

    Obama inherited the worst financial collapse in 80 years, the biggest deficit ever, and historically low tax rates. That’s the cause of his borrowing. It’s not because Obama has increased spending. Republicans are like people who pee in your house and then complain that the place stinks.

    Republicans refuse to acknowledge any of that.

    In fact, Republicans would have you believe that the 2008 crash occurred during the Obama presidency. Frankly, if we had implemented a regimen of fiscal austerity and cutbacks as Republicans wanted then and want now, we’d still be in a recession.

    The fact is, right now, our current deficit as a % of GDP is declining, and is at a very low level. Republicans are running a generic fear-based “the sky is falling” campaign, when in fact since the depths of the 2008 crash and Great Recession, we’ve been on a path of steady growth, low inflation, and declining unemployment.

  60. jukeboxgrad says:

    Jack:

    poodles

    You’re still here, and instead of apologizing for your phony number you’re trying to change the subject. Therefore it’s reasonable to conclude that you were lying deliberately, and not just making a stupid mistake. Thanks for clearing that up.

  61. C. Clavin says:

    @jukeboxgrad:
    I really don’t think he is smart enough to form a lie.
    The right wing nut job sites told him that was the number…and that’s all he’s got.
    It’s not like he can think for himself…or reason out what a reasonable number might be…or what actually contributes to and constitutes that number.
    Jack is told what to think…and so that’s what he thinks.
    Faced with actual facts and figures he resorts to childish insults.
    Tragic really that there are Americans in this day and age that are still that ignorant.
    But the right wing entertainment complex depends on people like that for their ratings and thus their livelihood.

  62. C. Clavin says:

    @ jukebox….
    I really don’t think he is smart enough to form a lie.
    The right wing nut job sites told him that was the number…and that’s all he’s got.
    It’s not like he can think for himself…or reason out what a reasonable number might be…or what actually contributes to and constitutes that number.
    Jack is told what to think…and so that’s what he thinks.
    Faced with actual facts and figures he resorts to childish insults.
    Tragic really that there are Americans in this day and age that are still that ignorant.
    But the right wing entertainment complex depends on people like that for their ratings and thus their livelihood.

  63. grumpy realist says:

    @C. Clavin: And they’re Trump supporters.

  64. An Interested Party says:

    In fact, Republicans would have you believe that the 2008 crash occurred during the Obama presidency.

    Indeed…and they would also have you believe that 9/11 occurred on Clinton’s watch…

  65. Matt says:

    @An Interested Party: That was my takeaway from Jeb’s comment. I figured he’s trying to push 9/11 off on Clinton like some Republicans did back during Bush Jr’s presidency.