When Donald Trump addressed the men and women of Southern and Central Command, and the military’s coalition partners, at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa on Monday, he could not wait beyond his second paragraph to repeat several things from his favorite box of short-term memories including his election victory (“We had a wonderful election”), and how everyone likes him (“…you like me, and I like you…” which pretty much plagiarizes Barney the Dinosaur’s theme song, although when Barney sings it, it’s far more believable).
By paragraph four, the President had to remind everyone that he was going to be getting them some new warfighting gear:
“And we’re going to be loading [MacDill] up with beautiful new planes (with a shout-out to Lockheed and Boeing in paragraph eleven) and beautiful new equipment. You’ve been lacking a little equipment. We’re going to load it up. You’re going to get a lot of equipment. Believe me.”
Yep. Just like we’re also going to ban Muslims, build the Wall, and repeal and replace (simultaneously) Obamacare before you can say ‘slickety cricket’. Go ahead, believe him. I’m not sure the appropriators and authorizers in the House and Senate are going to rain taxpayers’ dollars down on the White House without some serious considerations about just how mom and pop are going to manage to pick up the tab. But perhaps the President’s proposed 20% sales tax on Mexican goods will be acceptable in households of the dystopian, impoverished, and crime-ridden nation of which Trump often speaks.
To be fair, the MacDill speech contained all the right words praising our nation’s military, our warriors and their families, and expressed the appropriate gratitude we all have for those who wear the uniform, bear the burden, and make the sacrifices. All of which made sense for any President to say. But…In the middle of paragraph sixteen, the President dropped this little stink bomb of disinformation:
“And all across Europe, you’ve seen what happened in Paris and Nice. All over Europe it’s happening. It’s gotten to a point where it’s not even being reported and, in many cases, the very, very dishonest press doesn’t want to report it. They have their reasons and you understand that.”
The italics on the final four words ending that last sentence are mine because those words need to be emphasized for one reason: the President of the United States―the Commander-in-Chief―must never, ever, get in the business of promoting conspiracy theories among the ranks of the nation’s war-fighters. Mr. Trump does irreparable harm to the confidence and faith our troops have in the fundamental idea of America writ large.
That sacred concept—a Constitutional republic founded on the inviolable principles of the Bill of Rights, the First Amendment of which includes freedom of the press—must remain inviolate, untainted, and impervious to Fifth Column attempts to subvert the true faith and allegiance of America’s defenders to the entire Constitution—not just the parts of it the President seems to favor (which, I think, is limited to the establishment of the presidency). Our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coastguardsmen, swore to “support and defend” the Constitution of the United States at the beginning of their service. They do not deserve a president who practices, by innuendo and deceit, to undermine the foundation of a free press.
There is simply no conspiracy among the tens of thousands of mainstream media reporters, photographers (still and video), editors and publishers everywhere to ignore or play down the horrific events that have taken place in almost every corner of the globe.
“And you understand that,” is an insidious whisper in the ear, conspiratorial in nature, as if the President, “wink-wink,” is proud to share a dark secret with the men and women who protect our country “against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” How dare he!
I was a speechwriter for federal leaders—House, Senate, Executive Branch—for many years, and I know exactly why someone in authority places certain words and phrases in a speech. I also know that when a speaker departs from his or her notes, the truth often comes out in Gollum-speak, ugly and guttural. The phrase, “…and you understand that,” is just that ugly, and if it did not come directly from the conspiracy-dipped pen of Steve Bannon, I have no doubt he encouraged its inclusion or whispered it in Trump’s ear.
Shortly after the MacDill speech, Sean Spicer, the President’s press secretary tried, vainly and inanely, to defend the President’s allegation of some sort of global media conspiracy to play down, or even ignore, terrorist attacks around the world. Tuesday night, the White House released a list of 78 “under-reported terrorist attacks.” It would be hard to find any reasonably well-informed person…liberal or conservative…who has not at one time or another, said of the coverage of many of these events, “Doesn’t the media have something else to report except this?!” If anything, over-coverage has been a chief complaint. Every one of the events on the list were well-reported.
There is simply no conspiracy among the tens of thousands of mainstream media reporters, photographers (still and video), editors and publishers everywhere to ignore or play down the horrific events that have taken place in almost every corner of the globe. And yet, Mr. Trump, who seems now to want to add “Editor-in-Chief” and “Chief Media Scold” to his resume’ is willing to lay his conspiratorial fantasies on the very men and women who are charged with protecting our nation in the far-flung hell holes of the world. In doing so, he is coating every embedded reporter, every combat journalist, every news journal and network covering terrorism in their home countries and abroad, with a bubbling tar of doubt and derision poured out of a ladle forged in the wicked kiln of venomous conspiracy theories.
That is not to say there is no conspiracy. There is. It is aimed directly at the news media and at Americans who seek the truth, who reject lies, and who understand the Constitutional rights of referendum and recall. It is a conspiracy directed from the parapets of power at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.