Here’s why Trump’s disdain for military heroes is totally consistent with his view of the world
President Donald Trump is facing yet another controversy — this time, because of a bombshell article by The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg that details Trump’s contempt for military heroes, including those who were killed, injured or captured in combat. Goldberg’s article is full of appalling examples of Trump making derogatory statements about veterans — for example, Trump attacked the late Sen. John McCain as a “fucking loser” for becoming a prisoner of the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War and described the World War I veterans buried at Aisne-Marne American Cemetery as “suckers” and “losers.” But as appalling as those statements are, they aren’t surprising. Trump’s history of demeaning military veterans is well-documented, and the comments cited in Goldberg’s article are totally consistent with the president’s self-centered view of the world.
Goldberg discussed his reporting during a September 4 appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” where a panel ranging from hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski to Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson and BBC reporter Katty Kay railed against Trump. Explaining Trump’s outlook, Goldberg described him as someone who is “genuinely confused by service” and is obsessed with “the importance of material gain and the importance of not being a loser” — and the Atlantic editor-in-chief summarized Trump’s world view perfectly.
There is nothing wrong with hard work and ambition, but Trump’s obsession with status and materialism is downright pathological. To Trump, everything is about “what’s in it for me?” For that reason, he is unable to comprehend why a veteran like McCain would risk his own physical safety during wartime — and to Trump, being captured by the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War made him a “loser.” On July 18, 2015, Trump infamously said of McCain, “I like people who weren’t captured.”
One can believe that the U.S. should have stayed out of the Vietnam War and still admire McCain as a war hero — and there were plenty of liberal and centrist Democrats on Capitol Hill who respected McCain despite their policy differences with him. But to Trump, becoming a prisoner of war was comparable to making a bad business deal and becoming a “loser” because of it.
Trump’s obsession with status is evident in his unbearably silly attacks on his critics. If actress Meryl Streep criticizes Trump’s policies, his knee-jerk response is to attack her as an over-the-hill has-been who is “overrated” (actually, Streep has a stellar list of accomplishments and has appeared in one great film after another). If Alec Baldwin lampoons Trump on “Saturday Night Live,” the president will claim that the show’s ratings are poor. And in response to Goldberg’s article, Trump has dismissed The Atlantic as an obscure publication that no one reads — which is nonsense because The Atlantic is widely read. Trump’s attacks on his critics are almost always devoid of substance: anyone who disagrees with him is a “loser” or a “has been” or someone who hasn’t closed as many deals as he has.
Meryl Streep, one of the most over-rated actresses in Hollywood, doesn't know me but attacked last night at the Golden Globes. She is a.....— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump) 1483961270.0
Hillary flunky who lost big. For the 100th time, I never "mocked" a disabled reporter (would never do that) but simply showed him.......— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump) 1483961762.0
Trump’s niece Mary Trump, in her tell-all book, “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man wrote,” recalls that Trump threatened to disown his son, Donald Trump, Jr., if he joined the military. As Trump saw it, serving his country rather than pursuing material gain would make his son a “loser.”
Trump, Jr., now a prominent figure in the Republican Party, has turned out to be a lot like his father: snarky, mean-spirited, vindictive and hateful — and it isn’t hard to see where that ugly disposition comes from. President Trump’s view of the world, according to his niece, was largely shaped by his late father, Fred Trump, Sr. — who also had a self-centered, status-obsessed, materialistic view of the world. Donald Trump, Sr., according to Mary Trump, turned out the way he did because he wanted to please his demanding father — and the same me-first mentality appears to have been passed on to Donald Trump, Jr. At least Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter, pretends to be empathetic and look at the bigger picture; Donald Trump, Jr. doesn’t even pretend.
Politically, people who are far to the right or far to the left are often attacked for being ideologues and having a rigid belief system and a painfully black-and-white outlook. Trump, however, is no ideologue. He flip-flops constantly, and any political view he expresses is based on what he thinks will benefit him personally. Trump, who went from Blue Dog Democrat to far-right Republican, has no core political ideology; his only concern is what will benefit President Donald Trump. And given that view of the world, he will never understand the sacrifices made by military veterans.