by Ockams Razur
This July Fourth, we again saw President Trump use our Armed Forces as political props. Just as earlier he ordered the graduating class of the Corps of Cadets back to West Point so that he could give a campaign speech with those hallowed halls as a backdrop. Even worse, the president continues to show his disregard for the military, most recently with his unwillingness to respond to the Russians paying bounties for killing American soldiers. One wonders at the response of the Republican Party’s candidates who often run on the basis of their military service. They may be hard pressed to explain away the administration’s inaction in the wake of Russian proxy attacks on American soldiers.
Despite his view of himself as strong on national defense, the Republican President avoided military service during the Vietnam War. Now we hear he paid someone to take his SATs for him so he could get into college. His fascination with military parades is probably to make up for his unwillingness to step forward when he had his own opportunity to serve our country. In the same vein, he has enjoyed surrounding himself with advisors with military service. Unfortunately, he rarely took their advice and ended up firing each and every one of them. The articles and “tell all” books that have appeared in the last three years show a president who is singularly uninformed about international policy, military affairs, and world history.
While seeking the support of gleaming military uniforms, Trump has been generally unkind to those who wear the uniform. His long and public spat with Senator John McCain was so bitter that when the White House discovered that the vessel named after the Vietnam War hero’s father (the USS John S McCain) might be seen during Trump’s visit to Japan, the White House ordered the ship’s name covered up. Trump was also unkind to Gold Star parents who lost a son or daughter in combat. As the Lt.Col Vindman case shows, Trump is willing the ruin the career of a soldier doing his duty. A serial user of condescending labels, Trump also called his Secretary of Defense, 4-star Marine General Jim Mattis, “an overrated general,” after Mattis left his staff. Personal slights were not the only demonstration of Trump’s low regard for the military. He raided the Department of Defense budget for money to pay for his wall at the southern border.
Trump has also dismissed and tried to discredit the Intelligence Community from the beginning of his administration. The American taxpayer spends $45 billion annually for the U.S. Intelligence Community’s vast efforts to protect our country by monitoring the world via satellites, electronic eavesdropping and other scientific tools. It has been known for years that he does not read the Presidential Daily Brief, even after the analysts from the CIA, DIA, NSA and the Pentagon added more cartoons and charts.
It is during this election season, however, that the damage Trump has done may come to haunt Republican candidates. Throughout America, Republican and Democratic candidates who have served in the armed forces or other national security organizations are running for office, some as incumbents, some as challengers. Because Trump does not respect the armed service, or Intelligence Community, except when it is convenient for him, their service becomes a heavy burden for Republican candidates trying to defend the White House.
There is one congressional race that illustrates the point. Virginia’s 7th Congressional District is where the rubber hits the road. In the 2018 election the 7th Congressional District in Virginia switched to “blue” for the first time in decades, with the win of former CIA operative Abigail Spanberger.
In her first term in Congress, Spanberger worked diligently to represent all of the citizens in her district. This year, she won the U.S. Chamber of Commerce award for bipartisanship. She has sponsored or co-sponsored a variety of legislation, not only tackling the pandemic, but pointing out the need for broadband in her rural district so that distance learning for our students can continue. Of course, because she is a Democrat, like Senator Duckworth, she has earned nothing but scorn from President Trump, despite her bipartisanship, or her record of service to our country.
Trump carried the district by 7 points in 2016 and the Republicans have already been assaulting the district with television ads. Reports have it that the Republicans are prepared to spend big this year.
Of her six Republican challengers – Nick Freitas, John McGuire, Pete Greenwald, Andrew Knaggs, Jason Robert, Tina Ramirez – in the 7th CD race, four tout their military service. Two of her potential challengers (Freitas and McGuire) are members of the Virginia House of Delegates, and one (Freitas), in his five years in office, has sponsored little legislation useful to his district.
If Trumpism is to be defeated and retired from the field, candidates such as Spanberger, who have solid national security experience, must be reelected. We don’t need Republican candidates who, despite their military service, are out of step with America. This is the moment to support Abigail Spanberger with heart, mind, hard work, and money: https://abigailspanberger.com/