Enough with Trump’s call to the widow, please!


Today, NPR raises the question, “After Controversy Over Condolence Calls, Can Trump And The White House Refocus?

The answer to that, we’ve all learned, is probably “no.” Even if the White House does everything it should, and resolves to move forward and concentrate on other things, Trump will get up at 6 the next morning, if not earlier, and blow it all with a Tweet. We know this.

But yeah, it would be nice not to have to hear about any of this any more, at all.

For the widow, Myeshia Johnson, the pain must go on. I pray that God send his healing grace upon her and help her through this nightmare, but we know the loss will always be with her. She has received the call that my family dreaded the full year of my Dad’s tour in Vietnam, and her loss is real and profound and permanent.

The best we can do for her right now is honor her fallen husband, and stop intruding on her grief, and stop dragging it into politics.

This whole thing has been SO unseemly from the start.

And how did it start? With Donald Trump trying to do something that has rightly or wrongly become part of the job of president, something he is particularly ill-equipped to do. But at least he was trying.

And, because he is so ill-equipped on so many levels, it went badly. The widow says he made things worse.

It’s not necessarily that the words he said were so awful. In defending him, Chief of Staff John Kelly said that the friend and fellow general officer who consoled him when his son was killed used similar words, telling him that that the young man was doing exactly what he wanted to do, that he knew what he was getting into by joining the military in wartime and that he was surrounded when he died by the “best men on Earth.”

(Kelly having to tell this story is another of the awful things about this controversy. Up until then, he had extremely careful to keep his grief private and out of the political sphere.)

Of course, that plays one way when one Marine says it to another Marine, his good friend, who himself has sent men in harm’s way. That’s a conversation within the brotherhood. It plays differently when Mr. Bone-Spur Deferment says it to a grieving widow.

Then we had the whole business of the Democratic congresswoman (who surprisingly is not from Texas) having been with the widow during the phone call and backing the story that the president had said the wrong things, then Trump lashing out childishly with lies about Obama not having made condolence calls. (This is standard with Trump and his supporters — when criticized, they yell, “Hillary! Obama!” It matters not at all to them that it’s almost always a non sequitur.)

You had Trump stating he had called all families of those killed in action, and the press checking it out and finding he’d called about half of the ones reporters could reach.

And then, at one point, we had the sideshow — leading The Washington Post‘s website for a time — about a grieving father whom Trump called. This father griped to Trump about not receiving survivor’s benefits — they were going to his ex-wife, the mother — and Trump promised to write him a personal check for $25,000, but the Dad says he didn’t. (The White House later said the check is in the mail.) I just don’t even know how to count up how many ways that story is tawdry and cringe-inducing…

Before the week was out, there was also the business of John Kelly helping Trump lash out at the congresswoman, and saying something untrue and unfair to her in the process. Then there was the funeral over the weekend, and just this morning the widow appearing on “Good Morning America” to share what she thought of Trump…

It’s just all so awful, so disheartening. Whether you care about respecting the sacrifice of a soldier, or the dignity of the presidency, or just normal, everyday human decency, it’s been an unpleasant spectacle.

And even though I know whatever this president moves onto next will probably be just as unseemly, I for one am ready for the moving-on part…

77 thoughts on “Enough with Trump’s call to the widow, please!

  1. Bob Amundson

    It should be obvious that what is said to a Marine Corps officer to assuage grief for the loss of a loved one is much different that what is said to a young, pregnant wife. I am not surprised that POTUS made an un-nuanced statement, but I am disappointed that Chief of Staff General Kelly did not seem to understand the need for nuance.

  2. Claus2

    This woman’s and this Representative’s 15 minutes are about up. I noticed that even Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson didn’t even bother getting involved.

    1. Mark Stewart

      I’m sure you relished John Kelly’s rascist outburst – empty barrel and all.

      We “thought” he was THE adult in the White House. After that ignorant rant (and no follow up mea culpa) it’s obvious he won’t last past the Friday after Thanksgiving.

  3. Doug Ross

    You keep prodding the bear, you’re going to get bit. He didn’t start this mess, the Congresswoman did. Every single utterance from Trump is now open for excessive analysis, whining, and ridicule. All the outrage is so phony.. and it feeds right into Trump’s ego. You think he’s going to back down? You think he’s going to change? Give up… Look at the career politicians he destroyed last year – Hillary, Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz… he’s better at it than any of these people — especially a Congresswoman whose main claim to fame appears to be wearing bedazzled cowboy hats. If she isn’t what’s wrong with Congress, I don’t know who is.

    1. bud

      He didn’t start this mess, the Congresswoman did.

      Uh, no. Doug I’ll take a leap of faith here and assume you’re being contrarian by offering a ridiculous assessment of the situation to get a reaction. Since I’m retired now and living off the generosity of hard working people like you I’ll give you that satisfaction. 🙂 Trump started this by deflecting a legitimate question at a press conference about the circumstances surrounding the deaths of four servicemen in Niger, a place the American people had no idea that troops were in. Rather than answer the question, which he probably couldn’t, Trump inexplicably launched into this non-sequitur slamming Obama about not calling families of servicemen. Really? Now Trump was committed to calling the families. Since he is fully incapable of empathy his call was doomed to come across as insensitive. That’s somewhat understandable but he totally blew past any chance of getting the benefit of the doubt when he failed to use Sgt. La David Johnson’s name. That’s a pretty low bar to get over. A simple mention of Sgt. Johnson might have been sufficient to quell this brouhaha before it got started. But nooo. Our moron in chief couldn’t even do that. So a furious Congresswoman Wilson calls President Narcissist on his inability to behave like a normal human being. Perhaps it would have been best to let it go but Wilson saw Trump’s call as an affront to common human decency and publicly airs Mrs. Johnson’s grievances. Which as a member of congress is her right, bedazzled hats or not.

      At this point Trump can merely stipulate that he has the greatest respect for Sgt. Johnson and never intended any disrespect. A simple tweet or official statement to that effect probably ends this tawdry affair before it gets too obscene. But Commander in Chief ‘Bone Spurs’ can’t leave it alone. Perhaps it’s because he’s such a narcissist he can’t stand being called out. Perhaps he’s sending a message to his Alt-Right base that he won’t stand for any uppity attacks by a N**** woman so he goes after her as a liar. John Kelly for his part ups the anti even more by falsely slandering her with a false claim that she is an “empty barrel”. At the end of the day Trump is not affected by any of this because his minions love this type of tawdry confrontation. However, John Kelly is diminished markedly. Congresswoman Wilson is a bit of a hero. And poor old Mrs. Johnson is further anguished. All because of the disgusting behavior of President Dotard.

      1. Richard

        bud, do you have a transcript of the call from Trump to the Johnson? Until one is produced we’ll never know what was said. At this point its a “he said, she said” situation.

        “Congresswoman Wilson is a bit of a hero.”
        Really? A “hero”? Would you put her up there with Capt. Gary Michael Rose who received the Medal of Honor today? If you do, you might as well start considering McDonald’s fry cooks as heroes.

      2. Doug Ross

        “Congresswoman Wilson is a bit of a hero.”

        Yep, that’s what Democrats consider a hero. The soft bigotry of low expectations.

        She was looking for attention and got it.

        1. bud

          Better the soft bigotry of low expectations than the hard racial/sexist bigotry of President P grabber. Doug I get it that as long as the DOW is soaring you will fawn over Trump regardless of how dangerous and divisive he is. We will likely avoid war with North Korea but damn why increase the odds? That is the real threat from the orange menace. Hey why don’t we start referring to Trump as Agent Orange.

          1. Doug Ross

            I haven’t “fawned” over Trump at all. He hasn’t done anything to fawn over. I don’t even give him credit for the DOW — all I have said is that if it remains high, his chances of winning in 2020 go up. But I also don’t live in a world where I spend all my time analyzing every single word he says or tweets and every interaction he has with others. His victory in November was a huge psychological blow to many people who have been living in a liberal bubble for years under Obama. The natural response is to deflect and attack versus doing a little self-introspection to understand your world view may not be right. It’s no different than how Republicans responded when Obama won. Same m.o. but you don’t realize it.

            My guy, Gary Johnson, lost. He ran a terrible campaign in what should have been the best circumstances to make some in roads with the Libertarian Party. I accept that. One day, when Democrats accept that Hillary lost because HILLARY LOST IT, we can “move on”.

            Keep doing what you’re doing. I’m sure it will make your life much better by focusing on Trump.

        2. Richard

          “She was looking for attention and got it.”

          With hats like that it isn’t all that hard. I didn’t realize Florida had cowgirls. Buffalo gals won’t you come out tonight…

    2. Barry

      Uh, yeah, he did start it by running his big mouth about what obama and/or Bush did- when he had no clue in the world what they had done.

      As usual, he stuck his foot in his mouth by speaking without knowing the truth. So he made it up.

      So you are flat out wrong. He started it.

      1. Doug Ross

        He did not start anything regarding the phone call to the widow. Separate issue. That was pure politics by the Congresswoman. There are any number of ways she could have handled the situation besides turning it into a spectacle. But, nope, got to go after Trump on every word that comes out of his mouth and even the ones that don’t. Pointless grandstanding using the widow as a prop.

        1. Bart Rogers

          And it keeps right on coming. Another article in the local newspaper about the “phone call”. This is what happens when you put two crazies together, the unnecessary and irrelevant crap that has gone through several life cycles over the past week when it should have been a non-starter from the beginning. There are too many in elected offices who shouldn’t be there and Trump and Wilson from Florida most certainly meet the criteria for being way in over their heads.

          Both are prime examples of absolute devotion to tribalism and as long as tribes exist, people like Trump and Wilson will continue to make life miserable for everyone outside their tribes. Neither one has the best interest of this nation at heart, only what is in it for them and them alone.

          The fallen soldier is nothing more than a ping-pong ball being batted back and forth between Trump and Wilson. But if one bothers to do some research, the widow was born in Miami Gardens, Florida. Wilson was born in Miami, Florida and is the representative, Democrat, for the district in the House. So, the connection between the two is there and understandably, Wilson would have been in the vehicle when the call was made. Another consideration is that Wilson’s district is heavily Democrat and basically very tribal in its political ideology and identity.

          Sometimes we have to look at the way things are through the lenses of reality and not give in to the populist narrative. Trump is who he is and will not change. He has no experience handling emotional and sensitive matters like calling the families of fallen soldiers to offer condolences. He depended on Kelly to provide him with the right words and apparently he stumbled trying to express them correctly. Considering the very distinct possibility that Myeshia Johnson probably dislikes Trump as much as Wilson does and any slip of the tongue, omission, or perceived disrespect by Trump will become fodder for political attacks with her complicit permission. Wilson is enjoying the public attention of the news, political, and social media. Trump is pumping up his base by going on the attack. The widow could have stopped everything before it started if she wanted to. All she had to say to Wilson is to keep quiet about the call and allow her and her children to grieve in private. Don’t make it a public and political issue. However, she has entered the fray and is making public appearances on the morning shows.

          Ultimate losers – everyone else who is exposed to something as dirty as this is becoming and the ever widening gap between Americans brought on by the behavior of the participants.

  4. Claus2

    “Mr. Bone-Spur Deferment ”

    Said the Admiral’s son… who wrecked more Naval aircraft than anyone in the Navy but was allowed to continue to fly when others would have had their wings clipped.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      If Trump hadn’t been a self-centered coward, maybe he could have had some airplanes to wreck. He probably would have been into that, given the opportunity (and if he’d had the Right Stuff to be a naval aviator, which is unlikely, since so few do). Just look how excited he gets just sitting in the driver’s seat of a truck…

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        I love those pictures, and that Tweet. They sort of make me like Trump — not as president, but the way we like little boys (such as my grandson) who LOVE trucks…

        1. Barry

          I hear ya. My 10 year old acts the same way as President Trump does in those pictures.

          I feel sorry for his kids even if they are successful. . I heard one of his sons say, after being asked, that he never tossed a ball with his dad. He said “he wasn’t that kind of father.”

            1. Richard

              Hatchet job or factual article? It was the first article Rolling Stone magazine had written worth reading in over a decade… I dropped my subscription in the late 1980’s.

      2. Claus2

        Here’s your heroism displayed by John McCain on the day of the USS Forrestal fire, as reported by Rolling Stone magazine:


        Sometimes 3 a.m. moments occur at 10:52 in the morning.

        It was July 29th, 1967, a hot, gusty morning in the Gulf of Tonkin atop the four-acre flight deck of the supercarrier USS Forrestal. Perched in the cockpit of his A-4 Skyhawk, Lt. Cmdr. John McCain ticked nervously through his preflight checklist.

        Now 30 years old, McCain was trying to live up to his father’s expectations, to finally be known as something other than the fuck-up grandson of one of the Navy’s greatest admirals. That morning, preparing for his sixth bombing run over North Vietnam, the graying pilot’s dreams of combat glory were beginning to seem within his reach.

        McCain, who knew more than most pilots about bailing out of a crippled aircraft, leapt forward out of the cockpit, swung himself down from the refueling probe protruding from the nose cone, rolled through the flames and ran to safety across the flight deck. Just then, one of his bombs “cooked off,” blowing a crater in the deck and incinerating the sailors who had rushed past McCain with hoses and fire extinguishers. McCain was stung by tiny bits of shrapnel in his legs and chest, but the wounds weren’t serious; his father would later report to friends that Johnny “came through without a scratch.”

        The damage to the Forrestal was far more grievous: The explosion set off a chain reaction of bombs, creating a devastating inferno that would kill 134 of the carrier’s 5,000-man crew, injure 161 and threaten to sink the ship.

        These are the moments that test men’s mettle. Where leaders are born. Leaders like . . . Lt. Cmdr. Herb Hope, pilot of the A-4 three planes down from McCain’s. Cornered by flames at the stern of the carrier, Hope hurled himself off the flight deck into a safety net and clambered into the hangar deck below, where the fire was spreading. According to an official Navy history of the fire, Hope then “gallantly took command of a firefighting team” that would help contain the conflagration and ultimately save the ship.

        McCain displayed little of Hope’s valor. Although he would soon regale The New York Times with tales of the heroism of the brave enlisted men who “stayed to help the pilots fight the fire,” McCain took no part in dousing the flames himself. After going below decks and briefly helping sailors who were frantically trying to unload bombs from an elevator to the flight deck, McCain retreated to the safety of the “ready room,” where off-duty pilots spent their noncombat hours talking trash and playing poker. There, McCain watched the conflagration unfold on the room’s closed-circuit television — bearing distant witness to the valiant self-sacrifice of others who died trying to save the ship, pushing jets into the sea to keep their bombs from exploding on deck.

        As the ship burned, McCain took a moment to mourn his misfortune; his combat career appeared to be going up in smoke. “This distressed me considerably,” he recalls in Faith of My Fathers. “I feared my ambitions were among the casualties in the calamity that had claimed the Forrestal.”

        The fire blazed late into the night. The following morning, while oxygen-masked rescue workers toiled to recover bodies from the lower decks, McCain was making fast friends with R.W. “Johnny” Apple of The New York Times, who had arrived by helicopter to cover the deadliest Naval calamity since the Second World War. The son of admiralty surviving a near-death experience certainly made for good copy, and McCain colorfully recounted how he had saved his skin. But when Apple and other reporters left the ship, the story took an even stranger turn: McCain left with them. As the heroic crew of the Forrestal mourned its fallen brothers and the broken ship limped toward the Philippines for repairs, McCain zipped off to Saigon for what he recalls as “some welcome R&R.”

    2. Barry

      Now? Yes. Early 1960s and Vietnam, not necessarily.

      “Navy veterans who flew with McCain called him a good pilot.

      “John was what you called a push-the-envelope guy,” said Sam H. Hawkins, who flew with McCain’s VA-44 squadron in the 1960s and now teaches political science at Florida Atlantic University. “There are some naval aviators who are on the cautious side. They don’t get out on the edges, but the edges are where you get the maximum out of yourself and out of your plane. That’s where John operated. And when you are out there, you take risks.”

      McCain’s commanders sarcastically dubbed him “Ace McCain” because of his string of pre-Vietnam accidents, recalled Maurice Rishel, who commanded McCain’s VA-65 squadron in early 1961, when it was deployed in the Mediterranean. Still, Rishel said, “he did his job.”

    3. Claus2

      McCain was a regular George Custer, McCain graduated from the US Naval Academy ranked 894 of 899 cadets. 5th from the bottom, yet was still granted an aviation slot. I bet there weren’t more than maybe 1 or two in the bottom 25% who were granted aviation slots, which normally go to the top of the class. But being an Admiral’s son and grandson probably had nothing to do with that… and the fact that he was reported to be a horrible aviation cadet who should have been washed out and handed a paint bucket.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        He graduated. Did you? I didn’t. He became a naval aviator. Did you? I didn’t. He flew in combat in service to his country. Did you? I didn’t.

        And so on…

        1. Claus2

          My dad and grandfather weren’t Admirals who had the pull to do all of the things he did. Did you read the article? He wasn’t combat qualified and had to beg to get a fighter slot. He was more concerned with chasing women and drinking than being a Navy pilot. Read the article, and see if you feel the same about him.

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            First of all, the Navy has aviators rather than pilots. Pilots are guys who land on great, big, flat fields that aren’t moving.

            And while no one should be proud of it, chasing women and drinking was pretty much what Naval aviators did back then when they weren’t in the air.

            Ever read The Right Stuff? As Wolfe wrote, the “holy coordinates of the fighter jock’s life” were “Flying and Drinking and Drinking and Driving and the rest of it.” That last part, the “rest of it,” was where the women came in.

            One hopes it’s better than that now, post-Tailhook, but I don’t know.

            My point is this: NO ONE should be proud of such behavior — any more than anyone should be proud of the way Trump has lived his personal life. But if you think that made McCain different from or worse than other aviators, I’m afraid you’re mistaken….

            1. Richard

              ” the Navy has aviators rather than pilots.”

              Looks like someone has been watching Top Gun again. If you want to get your semantics correct, in the Navy pilots are the guys who bring ships into the dock.

              In my family I’ve got both Naval aviators and pilots as well as paint scrapers. They aren’t the Hollywood fliers you speak of. You know what the the aviators I know do when they aren’t flying? They rotate sitting at desks as a maintenance officer, personnel officer, supply officer, etc… which takes up more of their time than flying. If you want to spend your time flying you get selected as an instructor pilot (or aviator if you want to use your semantics).

              McCain had his whole naval career handed to him. He likely didn’t have the grades to get into Annapolis without dad and grandpa’s help. He cheated his way through school and graduated nearly dead last in his class. He was a screw up during aviation training and was dumped off onto a prop plane because nobody trusted him in a jet. He threw a tantrum and suddenly was handed an attack jet (one step below a fighter class aircraft), crashed several aircraft on his way which would have gotten any other “aviator’s” wings pulled after the first screw up. The Rolling Stones article Clause posted tells the real story of who he is… a coward and a spoiled brat who lacked responsibility and had his old man pull strings at any point during his military career. He was offered release, but so were others who were willing to admit to being a war criminal.

              1. Barry

                Trump started it no matter how many times you say otherwise. You have the right to be wrong- again.

                The congresswoman is a big mouth.

                Trump is a buffoon, and sexual abuser.

              2. Barry

                Richard, the dishonesty in your post is over the top.

                MCCain, with his connections, could have easily avoided Vietnam like some other people I know.

                So give up the tirade against a war hero. Jealousy looks bad.

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            Didn’t occur to me at that age.

            I briefly considered leaving newspapers for the Navy in my late 20s. Took the written test for prospective officers and everything. But my Dad told me to forget it because they’d never take me with my lifelong asthma. So when they called to tell me about my test score, I told them never mind. But I did do well on the test. I had wanted to score high enough to go into intelligence, and I did, so that was nice to know…

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              The most interesting thing about that test was the sample question they showed us before the test.

              It went something like this:

              You are commanding a destroyer assigned to convoy duty in wartime, under radio silence. You receive a distress signal from a civilian craft. Which of the following courses of action to you take?

              A. Leave the convoy to offer assistance, signaling to the other ships in the convoy that you are parting company.
              B Break radio silence to call for someone else to go to the rescue of the civilian craft.
              C. Signal another ship in your convoy to go to the aid of the vessel in distress.
              D. Maintain radio silence and continue the mission, staying your course.

              I figured out that the answer was D, the operative hint being “in wartime.” But I thought, Wow, this is going to be a tough test if all of them are like that.

              They weren’t. The rest were more intuitive, and didn’t demand so much that I think so far out of a civilian mindset.

              I think maybe they made that the sample question in order to rattle the test-taker…

              1. Brad Warthen Post author

                That question made enough of an impression on me, more than three decades ago, that I’m almost sure of A, B, and D. But I made up C, unable to remember the fourth option…

              2. Claus2

                My how things have changed. When i took the test for AOCS about six months after Top Gun came out… along with every other person my age the test I took had math/science and vocabulary sections. I aced the math and science section and ran out of time on the vocabulary section (and an unanswered question was counted as a wrong answer). The vocabulary section showed you one word that 99.999% of the world had never heard of and asked you which of four words that 99.999% was either similar to or the opposite of. The test taker asked me why I left so many blank… I said because there wasn’t a clock in the room, I didn’t wear a watch, and you never told us we had x-many minutes left like you said when you handed out the test. I still scored higher than two guys I knew who tested the year before and were in flight training at the time.

                But it doesn’t matter, I was told by one of the Navy buddies that the Navy only has x-many slots at a given time and they fill as needed. You could make it through AOCS and sit for a year waiting for any slot to open. You may want jets, the Navy may say you’re going helicopter.

  5. Richard

    John McCain was about as good of a student as he was a pilot.
    “McCain graduated from the Naval Academy in June 1958; he was fifth from the bottom in class rank, 894th out of 899.”

    1. Barry

      “If anybody saw signs of greatness in me while at West Point they kept it to themselves.” – Dwight Eisenhower admitting he wasn’t a great student

  6. Harry Harris

    President Trump needs this kind of stuff – and thrives on it – to deflect from more important workings like gutting the EPA climate change efforts, a planned tax shift that will add to the deficit and debt, and undermining the ACA. As long as the watchdogs address his peccadilloes, it makes his viciousness and collusion with plans to build the oligarchy less noticeable.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Do you actually think Trump possesses the brainpower even to have something like “plans to build the oligarchy,” or any of that other stuff?

      He is governed by elemental impulses, not ideas. Don’t credit him with having ideological goals…

  7. Bart Rogers

    Donald Trump has the entire country dancing on the end of his puppet strings and no one is noticing who is controlling the strings. They think the media, late night show hosts, the entertainment industry, liberals, progressives, Democrats, and establishment Republicans own the narrative but in fact, Trump owns it.

    His lack of diplomacy, lack of ability to empathize or sympathize with a fallen soldier’s widow without asking his chief of staff what to say is telling. A simple call offering condolences and any assistance she needs would have been sufficient. But Trump had to place blame on others as a defense of his lack of understanding and qualifications to be POTUS.

    S.E. Cupp had a great discussion about the subject tonight and I agree with her and the panel’s take on the issue between Trump and the “Rhinestone Cowboy Hat” congress woman. Both should be ashamed of their behavior and politicization of the death of any member of the military. For what it is worth, S.E. Cupp has the only political oriented program I will watch. Her show is on HLN at 7:00 pm, Monday thru Thursday. She has a cross section of panel hosts including people from CNN, The Daily Beast, and others. The have great discussions and for the faint of heart on the far left, she and Van Jones are close friends and have great respect for each other. And she makes damn good sense on issues even though she is one of the “onerous, despicable, crass Republicans”.

  8. Scout

    Trump’s delivery of Kelly’s message is like what happens in this State Farm Commercial. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ultPAIkFoRw
    Text book examples of the importance of prosody to the underlying meaning of the message. He changed the entire emotional tone even though he used the same words. I’m sure it was unintentional and he is probably not even aware of how he changed it or how it was perceived. He’s just can’t do empathy.

    I suspect that what Kelly is actually stunned by is how badly Trump mangled the message even though he said the same words, whether he (Kelly) realizes it consciously or not. He is appalled that such a sacred message could be so cheapened in delivery. He can’t let himself direct his anger at Trump so it is displaced onto the Congress Woman because she is a convenient target in the right place at the right time.

    If it is such a sin to listen in on such a sacred call, in Kelly’s view, why was it OK for Kelly and aides to listen in on Trump’s end?

  9. bud

    One day, when Democrats accept that Hillary lost because HILLARY LOST IT, we can “move on”.

    And there it is. Took you a while but the urge is irresistible to play the Hillary card every single time someone points out something negative about Trump. The current president is DONALD TRUMP. Because he’s president he is fair game for legitimate criticism. Doug, I don’t know why you can’t see just how dangerous Trump is. Clearly his provocations toward North Korea are very disturbing. As terrible as Dubya was I really never felt he’d get us in a nuclear war. But damn, you just can’t honestly say that about Agent Orange. The dust up with Mrs. Johnson is by all accounts a tawdry affair of Trump’s making. But a bereaved widow is not the big story here. Disgusting as it is the REAL takeaway from this is that Trump is so thin skinned he’s likely to do something very dangerous. If he acts on these narcissistic impulses then the 2020 election won’t matter.

    1. Doug Ross

      The excessive, non-stop criticism of Trump is because Hillary lost an election that Democrats assumed was a lay up. The go to liberal response to anything is to blame someone else for their failures. When a football team loses as badly as Hillary did, someone gets fired. What’s happened in the Democratic Party since November? All the same characters at the top… no new game plan… fingerpointing, whining, claiming the end of the world is at hand. Trump botched a phone call to a widow. That’s news? That’s important?

      Bernie Sanders announced he’s running for re-election as an Independent, not as a Democrat. That says a lot. If you think 2018 and 2020 are locks now, good luck. Keep whining, keep pouting…

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        “The excessive, non-stop criticism of Trump is because Hillary lost an election that Democrats assumed was a lay up.”

        Doug, you sound like a real Trump loyalist there. Their answer to anything is “Hillary, Hillary, Hillary, Obama, Hillary!”

        But it’s not a true statement because it in no way applies to the criticism you read here from me.

        I didn’t want Hillary Clinton; I wanted John Kasich. I would have happily settled for Jeb! Bush. I might have gone with Marco Rubio in a pinch.

        Of course, by the fall, the only option for saving the country was to vote for Hillary. And anyone who voted for a third party, or write-in, or whatever, might as well have voted for Trump. Because only one person on the planet was in a position to stop him.

        As for Democrats, I can’t speak for them. They believe some unlikely things, and I suppose some of them were stupid enough to believe she was a shoo-in. But she never, ever was, as I kept warning people from the moment it began to look like Trump MIGHT capture the nomination.

        Once ANYONE, no matter how unqualified or painfully unfit, has the nomination of a major party, he or she has close to a 50 percent chance of being elected. Since there are hordes of sheep in both parties who vote ONLY by party, that person only needs a few more votes to win. Always.

        In any case, what liberals or Democrats want or fantasize about has little to do with what you read here.

        So your statement is untrue….

        A true statement would read, “The non-stop, but far from excessive, criticism of Trump is a function of the fact that every single day, he goes out of his way to demonstrate just how grossly unfit for the job he is.”

        1. Claus2

          “Of course, by the fall, the only option for saving the country was to vote for Hillary. ”

          Does that statement make you feel better? That knowing our fate was in Hillary’s hands?

          “Once ANYONE, no matter how unqualified or painfully unfit, has the nomination of a major party, he or she has close to a 50 percent chance of being elected. ”

          Walter Mondale would disagree with you.

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            Walter Mondale wasn’t running in the horrifically polarized environment of the 2010s.

            A lot of Democrats voted for Reagan. Democrats and Republicans don’t cross over in large numbers today. So any major-party nominee starts out with something close to 40 percent of the electorate. No matter how awful the candidate, all it takes is for a couple of things to break right to get to victory.

            That’s an extraordinarily dangerous situation for the country — as we saw in 2016. ANYONE with a nomination might win. Anyone…

        2. Doug Ross

          Sure, if you’re looking for something to complain about, you’ll find it. As I’ve said, all it takes is one tweet from Trump to send the haters into a tizzy. Yourself included.

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            Doug, it’s like we’re not speaking the same language. No one has to LOOK for it. The guy won’t leave us alone. He blasts it out CONSTANTLY.

            Every day, he does at least one thing, and maybe five things, that would have been a major crisis for the continued leadership of any president who went before.

            You have it exactly backwards. The worst possible thing has happened — utterly outrageous behavior is treated as normal because it’s Trump doing it. And of course we were warned about this from the start. The guy is so constantly outrageous that we don’t have time to stop and fully digest any one thing he does. He has blunted the senses of the nation. He has, to a shocking degree, normalized himself.

            But why do I bother typing this? If you think the negative reaction to Trump is an OVERreaction, then it’s not possible for me to explain it to you. You see black, and it looks white to you…

            1. Doug Ross

              I see reality. What percentage of your outrage is leveled at Trump’s policies versus some silly stupid tweet? Let’s talk about the tax plan or Obamacare replacement.. all the rest of this is just useless noise. Serves no purpose. We all can read what Trump said. We don’t need someone to explain how it is the end of the world every time.

              1. Doug Ross

                And then when the discussion tried to move to taxes and healthcare, all we hear is gloom and doom and death to children. It’s lazy analysis.

                1. Brad Warthen Post author

                  But how can you? I mean, really — you have SUCH a negative attitude about politics and government, and obviously you spend a lot of time thinking about those things, based on the time you spend here and the topics you address.

                  Does that not drag you down? It would me. I’d have trouble walking around carrying all that negativity. I mean, the fact that YOU’RE walking around with it is depressing enough for me. If I felt the same way, it would be a super drag…

                2. Doug Ross

                  Trust me. People who see me on a daily basis would never call me depressing or depressed. We try to have a good time at all times and don’t let the stuff we can’t control control us. My thoughts on the inefficiency, corruption, and stupidity of government don’t get me down because I feel more right about my views every day. I can be happy and successful in spite of them.

                  Live in the moment and enjoy yourself.

                  1. Brad Warthen Post author

                    I KNOW you’re a chipper fellow. That’s what puzzles me.

                    My only explanation is that as a libertarian, you’re able to wall yourself off from feeling responsible for bad stuff around you.

                    I can’t really do that….

                3. Claus2

                  “But how can you? I mean, really — you have SUCH a negative attitude about politics and government”

                  So do I, but I don’t go around all day moping about it. I maybe think about this stuff an hour a day… and usually just when I”m reading your blog where it’s Chicken Little politics 24/7. I’m not a politician, I don’t have any interest in being a politician, I don’t personally know any politicians, I don’t look up to people who are politicians… so what they do doesn’t really personally concern me. I’m a Donald Trump supporter, but I wouldn’t walk across the street to shake his hand anymore than I’d walk across the street to spit on Hillary Clinton.

                4. Claus2

                  ” I mean, the fact that YOU’RE walking around with it is depressing enough for me. ”

                  Maybe the gayest thing ever said on this blog. Brad you should have given up being a journalist and become a social worker.

  10. bud

    Trump will no doubt again say or do something revolting in the not too distant future. And again we’ll go round and round until the inevitable and irrelevant Hillary card gets played. But let’s be clear about what this incident is NOT about:

    . The reasons Donald Trump won the electoral college in 2016
    . Anything Hillary Clinton
    . Democrats
    . Any conventional political issues
    . Anyone whining
    . Anyone’s hurt feelings
    . Congresswoman Wilson
    . A bereaved gold star family (except, sadly, as collateral damage)

    None of those things are relevant, pertinent, applicable, apposite, material, apropos or germane to this incident. To suggest this has anything whatsoever to do with the 2016, 2018 or 2020 election utterly misses the point. So to all you Hillary obsessors obsess away if that makes you feel better. But missing the point won’t change the truth. Donald Trump is a dangerous, unhinged man who just might get us into a nuclear war. THAT is what this is about.

    1. Doug Ross

      There’s only one reason Trump won – he ran a better campaign than Hillary. That’s it. He focused on the states he needed to win and won them all. She coasted and slept walk through her campaign after rigging the primaries to negate Bernie.

      New high for the DOW today. Again. Not Trump’s doing but he will benefit from it. Imagine that – Democrats basically are praying for another Great Recession to have a better chance to beat Trump like the gift Obama got against McCain.

      1. Bart

        As long as the DOW stays high and the economy doesn’t go into the tank come 2020, unless Trump literally and figuratively goes off the really deep end of the pool, he stands a better than even chance to win if he runs again. I am skeptical that he will choose to run again since his lifestyle has been slightly hampered by the responsibilities of the office of POTUS and living in less luxurious surroundings. The White House just doesn’t measure up to the extravagant gold leaf finishes in his Manhattan penthouse. Even his family admitted it was a step down. Wonder what some of the areas the Trump family can redecorate looks like now. Something from Robin Leach’s “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous”?

        As for starting a nuclear war, NK and Iran have been looking for an opportunity to bring the world to the very edge of a nuclear war for some time now. It is a tactic to exact concessions from the US and other countries just to avoid the potential of a nuclear confrontation because both countries know full well that the US could wipe both off the face of the earth and turn the majority of the land mass in both to glass or very large parking lots with the push of one red button.

        NK has been blackmailing the US and other countries for decades just to placate their propensity for claiming they will invade SK, nuke Japan and other US allies. The blackmail is paid in humanitarian form in the guise of helping the oppressed people under the thumb of the father and now the son. The only way a nuclear confrontation will actually occur is if a truly mad man decides he can do the first strike and get away with it and the son is the one to worry about, not Trump. He may be a lot of things but I don’t believe even Trump is stupid or careless enough to embroil the world in a nuclear war.

        Don’t we have enough to occupy our minds already. Colin Kaepernick wasn’t signed again by the Dolphins after Cutler went down Sunday; Weinstein’s victim list is growing each day; another Hollywood power type has been accused by several women in the industry; O’Reilly apparently reached a $32 million out of court sexual harassment suit; Hillary Clinton is still on her “Why I Lost” book tour; Trump is still “Tweeter Feuding” with anyone who hits back or criticizes him over any and everything; bud still hates GWB with what seems to be a ramped up passion; and of all horrors, Doug is still a Libertarian. Well, Doug is not really news, just something to add to the list of things that doesn’t impact our daily lives.

        1. bud

          He may be a lot of things but I don’t believe even Trump is stupid or careless enough to embroil the world in a nuclear war.

          Let’s hope and pray you’re right. As a statistician I think you probably are. But I don’t share your confidence. Clearly the odds of nuclear war are much greater now than a year ago. Given Trump’s unhinged, erratic, bizarre behavior I frankly find that level of confidence highly naive. So while you and Doug inexplicably continue to natter away about elections I’m concerned with this real threat. Trump must be impeached before it’s too late. Sure that gives us the odious Mike Pence. But at least that reduces this risk.

          1. Richard

            From what I’m reading and hearing, the military is quietly moving people out of South Korea (Dec. 1st is a date that keeps appearing), the Air Force is recalling 1000 retired pilots, and Trump has told the military in the past week that he wants our nuclear weapons in “tip top condition”. My gut feeling is if anything happens, it’ll be China putting North Korea in it’s place. I think we’ll see the last of Rocketman by the end of the year. He’ll just disappear.

          2. Bart Rogers

            Okay, I will natter away as much as I please, you don’t have to read it. But, I will go along with impeachment of Trump if and when the investigations can actually connect the dots with legitimate, irrefutable and reliable information that can stand up in an impeachment proceeding.

            You seem to stuck on many words, especially odious, i.e. “unequivocally detestable” Now you have added natter to your list of words in your vicious vocabulary. What is next? Here are some for you to consider. Rebarbative, recreant, misologist, limacine, and if you want a few for Trump, try lubricious, gulositous, flagitious, and fabulist. You might want to trade in execrable for excrementitious, getting a little tired of execrable. Just one more for someone, anyone you hate as much as you hate GWB. Try facinorous, you will really like it when going after GWB.

            Have a good day! 🙂

            1. but

              Hmm. I’ll stick with odious. It’s simple and to the point. Plus it describes most Republicans accurately. Plus it doesn’t get mangled by spell check. But I’ll keep your list in mind if the need arises to use something fancier. And you too have a nice day.

              1. Bart Rogers

                Thanks for the reply and smile ‘but’. Maybe your visual spell check failed or your fingers rebelled while typing.

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