Alan Zendell, November 22, 2018
I’ve always considered Thanksgiving untouchable. For years it’s been the only American holiday that remained free of self-righteous religious preaching and self-important politicians, who were thankfully smart enough to realize that what we were most thankful for was not having to see or hear them for at least one day. Most of us would rather enjoy our families and friends, steeped in the warmth of our own personal spirituality.
Of course, it was different this year. Our self-loving president filled the airwaves with a military teleconference with some troops stationed in Afghanistan and Kuwait. It’s not uncommon for presidents to thank the military stationed overseas for their service on Thanksgiving. It’s always a staged, artificial event, because…well…presidents feel it’s something they’re required to do. Most don’t do ritual all that well, but we forgive their awkwardness because, after all, we really are thankful to the people we have deployed all over the world to protect us.
As usual, however, Trump couldn’t leave it at that. Our president, who pulled every string he had and paid off everyone he could to avoid serving in the military himself is horribly miscast as Commander in Chief. Amidst all his lies, exaggerations, and hate-mongering, he is at his most disingenuous when he is lauding the military. He has no business being in the same room as the generals who invest their lives in protecting us.
Last week, he demonstrated once again how shallow his respect for our military really is. Like every banana republic dictator who ever lived, he cares nothing for genuine heroism and patriotism. All that matters to Donald Trump is demonstrated loyalty to him, as we saw when he attacked the Navy Seal Admiral who oversaw the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden. Why? Because retired Adm. William McRaven, who served under Presidents Bush-43 and Obama stood up for the constitution, claiming that the president’s attack on the media is the greatest threat to our democracy in his lifetime.
A mere few days later, Trump had to read from a prepared text to thank our troops, but as expected, he quickly veered off script to make the Thanksgiving call about himself. He told his captive audience on the other end of the phone line how he has single-handedly created the strongest economy ever seen anywhere in the world. (He omitted that as a result of his trade policies and tariffs, the stock markets ended in negative territory for the year, yesterday, despite the massive tax cut that enabled large corporations to reap windfall profits.)
He also whined about the ways the courts are a constant roadblock for him. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals was cited as a particular thorn in his side. Those damn Obama judges have apparently been obstructing Trump’s efforts at imperial rule. (He also omitted that his intemperate remarks about the courts sparked a never-before heard rebuke from the conservative Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.)
Instead of giving those soldiers he loves so much a needed day off from the horrors of their Afghanistan tours, and for one day letting their families and those who are truly grateful to them shower them with praise, Trump treated them to an attack on a co-equal branch of our government, one sworn to uphold the constitution our troops are there to defend. He made himself and his huge ego the star of the show. And he somehow equated the thousands of desperate migrants who left poverty and death behind in Honduras and Guatemala with the ISIS and Taliban terrorists our military is dealing with. How utterly offensive is that – but our president has no clue.
I’m going to spend Thanksgiving with three generations of family, the way it’s supposed to be spent. I’m going to ignore Donald Trump for the rest of the day (now that I’ve gotten this off my chest.) We’re going to eat too much and be thankful to be together. The only thing allowed on television screens for the rest of the day is football, and for one day we’ll act as if all is well in the world and in our country.
There will be plenty of time tomorrow to get back to the task of preventing Donald Trump from destroying it all.