Olivia Nuzzi, at the Daily Beast, is a typical example of the commentators going after Trump for declining to reverence John McCain’s POW sufferings, when Trump himself avoided military service in the Vietnam War.
Trumpâ€™s decision to criticize McCainâ€™s military record is all the more puzzling given the circumstances surrounding his lack of one.
Trump claimed, in an April interview on WNYW, that he avoided the Vietnam War because â€œI actually got lucky because I had a very high draft number.â€ He said, while attending the Wharton School of Finance, that â€œI was watching as they did the draft numbers and I got a very, very high number and those numbers never got up to me.â€
But The Smoking Gun reported that Trumpâ€™s draft number was 365, and when it was drawn on Dec. 1, 1968, â€œ18 months after Trump graduatedâ€ from the Wharton School, Trump â€œhad already received four student deferments and a medical deferment,â€ according to records obtained by the publication.
Rieckhoff joked, â€œHe was so interested in seeing the presidentâ€™s birth certificate, Iâ€™m sure heâ€™d be willing to provide the documentation about that.â€
Despite his lack of service, Trump, in the post-insult statement, said, â€œI am not a fan of John McCain because he has done so little for our Veterans and he should know better than anybody what the Veterans need, especially in regards to the VA. He is yet another all talk, no action politician who spends too much time on television and not enough time doing his job and helping Vets.â€
It just isn’t that simple, folks.
John Kerry, just for example, graduated from Yale in 1965, before the Anti-War Movement had really developed. John Kerry had been planning to run for president presumably since pre-school, so he naturally did go into the Armed Forces, taking the comparatively safe choice of the Navy.
Kerry wound up serving on Swift Boats and saw minor combat. Kerry then came home with a collection of medals, which some of those who served with him say he had written himself up for, grotesquely exaggerating his alleged valor and falsely describing some accidentally self-inflicted wounds as resulting from hostile fire. Kerry then went AWOL; joined the Anti-War Movement as a principal national spokesman, then testified before Congress that his fellow American servicemen behaved like “Genghis Khan,” burned villages, and routinely killed women and children. Kerry even traveled to Paris in order to participate in private planning sessions with North Vietnamese negotiators.
Someone like Trump, who didn’t go to war at all, deserves to be rated as a whole lot more patriotic than a scoundrel and traitor like John Kerry.
The Vietnam War was grossly mismanaged by two administrations, and — at the time — anybody with an IQ over room temperature could see we were never going to win, all the lives lost would be wasted, and the end was merely going to be withdrawal. By the later 1960s, nobody who was clever or well-connected was going.
John McCain served in the war because he was the son and grandson of Navy admirals. He attended Annapolis, following in his father’s footsteps and simply going into the family business. Graduates of the service academies and members of military families had less choice.
There were all sorts of ways to avoid being conscripted, and since American lives and efforts were obviously being wasted and serving in that war could easily be recognized as futile, I’d say that nobody has any right to reproach anybody for draft dodging.
Reproach Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon for not dropping a blocking force of a couple of airborne divisions somewhere north and west of Hanoi, and then not sending in an amphibious corps of Marines to assault Hanoi and Haiphong. We could have won the War in Vietnam. We needed only to capture the enemy’s government, military high command, principal supply center, and general staff. We always had the military power to do that. We just knuckled under to Soviet and Chinese saber-rattling (the same way we did in Korea), and never did. We fought a limited war, on terms dictated by the enemy, until the left destroyed the war’s legitimacy and our domestic morale, which forced us to give up.
Donald Trump was obviously smart enough to tell which way the wind blows, and he merely took the practical approach of stepping off the tracks and out of the path of the speeding railroad engine of History. A lot of people did exactly the same thing. I don’t think anybody ever had an obligation to be a sucker and have his time, efforts, and potentially his life wasted by venal and incompetent political leaders. Nor do I think that being smart enough not to be used and played, being able to avoid being taken advantage of, disqualifies anyone from political office or participation in later debates of foreign policy.