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These remarks from Donald Trump during a Q & A with veterans in Virginia have caused some controversy:

“When you talk about the mental health problems, when people come back from war and combat, they see things that maybe a lot of the folks in this room have seen many times over. And you’re strong and you can handle it, but a lot of people can’t handle it. And they see horror stories, they see events that you couldn’t see in a movie — nobody would believe it.”

Image result for donald trump military

Trump as a teenager at New York Military Academy, 1964.

Following Trump’s obtuse remark about John McCain’s heroism earlier in the campaign, you can see why people might want to say about Trump now, “nobody would believe it.” The army instills an “all for one, one for all” ethic in its soldiers. Everyone helps everyone else get through warfare, and unit cohesion is every soldier’s most important asset. Along comes the nation’s chief narcissist to tell soldiers that no, it’s actually not like that. Like everywhere else, he says, we have the strong and the weak. The strong can take it, whatever ‘it’ is, and the weak can’t.

This man wants to lead our armed forces! He says he’s going to order our service members to commit war crimes, and what will he do if they refuse to do so? “Oh they will, they will,” he replies. That’s how a strongman talks: if I want our service members to torture prisoners, they’ll do what I say.

Like other narcissists, Trump does not hide what is inside him. He is supremely confident in himself. His followers like that quality.

This man deferred his way out of service during the Vietnam war. He speaks with contempt about a pilot from Arizona who survived grievous torture in a North Vietnamese prison camp, then served his country honestly and with integrity for the rest of his life. Donald Trump has no character. Let me say it again: Donald Trump is a dishonorable man who cannot recognize integrity when he sees it. Democrats say he is unfit to be president because he lacks the temperament, because he might start a war.

I can tell you, that is the least our problems. We see Lyndon Johnson’s reputation as a bad president spring from his decision to fight the Vietnam war. The train of causation goes the other way. He fed the military’s desire to fight the Vietnam war because he was a bad person. The same analysis goes for Trump. He is bad to his core. We want someone in the White House who will go to war, if war is necessary. We want someone with the character of Winston Churchill. Willingness to go to war is not the correct criterion to evaluate a presidential candidate. Evaluate who the person is, inside.

Like other narcissists, Trump does not hide what is inside him. He is supremely confident in himself. His followers like that quality. Mussolini was supremely confident, too. For a while many Italians liked that about him. Then he made a lot of mistakes, and his enemies shot him. They hanged him by his ankles in the public square to disgrace him and prove he was dead. We have had sixteen years with two leaders who made serious mistakes. We need a president now who understands how to avoid them.

In publication since 2009, The Jeffersonian occasionally publishes topical collections of essays on politics, such as Revolution on the Ground and Infamy. To learn about these and other books, visit Dr. G’s Writing Workshop.

Related articles

The Reporting of Trump’s PTSD Comments Shows Why His Supporters Hate the Media ~ Intelligent analysis of Trump’s remarks by Scott Shackford at reason.com.

How Donald Trump avoided the draft during the Vietnam War

Related video and update

Trump suggests military members with mental health issues aren’t ‘strong’ and ‘can’t handle it’

The video at the beginning of this article indicates that the Washington Post does in fact take Trump’s remarks out of context, both in its headline, and in its introductory remarks about Trump’s response in the question and answer session with veterans. He speaks compassionately about making sure veterans who need care when they come home from war, receive it.

I’ll stay with my my remarks about Trump above, but I see after watching the video that the Washington Post excerpt is not a good point of departure for the criticism. Citing the high number of suicides veterans as a group experience, twenty-two a day, Trump speaks quietly and sincerely about the president’s responsibility to see that veterans receive the care they need, especially mental health care.