by Marion Marks
In 1968, Donald Trump was a 21 years old, handsome college student with a full head of hair. The Vietnam War draft was never an issue on his way to earning an Ivy League degree. Trump’s life was fancy dinners, beautiful women and outrageous night clubs. His job in his father’s real estate company consisted of creating money-making ideas that would make him a billionaire. John McCain sat in a tiny North Vietnamese prison cell, a broken US Air Force pilot whose plane crashed. He lay starving and suffering from a series of botched operations and months of torture. Today, Donald Trump judges John McCain harshly.
Trump’s comments on McCain, “He’s not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured, I like people that weren’t captured.” If this isn’t pitiful unpatriotic pandering, we have to reconsider what our heroes really must endure.
Trump’s heroes are role models who worship money and power. “Two of the people I admired most and who I kind of studied for the way they did things were the great Flo Ziegfeld, the Broadway producer, and Bill Zeckendorf, the builder,” he told the New York Times in 1984. “They created glamour, and the pageantry, the elegance, the joy they brought to what they did was magnificent.”
Somehow this is a side of American patriotism and role model education I hope I never have to explain to voters. It’s a side of greed and self-centered depravity that is what foreigners often call “The Ugly American.”
As much as I might have questioned the Vietnam War in 1968 as I was ROTC cadet, I never felt that any serviceman who was on the front line, in a support role or a POW deserved any less respect than the admiration I had for my father, a World War II veteran. Never would we be permitted to say the least disparaging remark about any who served our country.
But most importantly we were expected to respect any who wore the uniform, police, firemen or any branch of the military. Never would we question the patriotism of POW, even if they broke under torture. It was what set America apart, until we questioned war criminals and spies.
But the disrespect to John McCain, and all those who served and may have been captured, when Trump did everything he possibly could to avoid service, is just one more strike against the Trump character and a denial of American core values.
All these factors must be weighed in the process of determining the most fit candidate. Alfred E. Newman is not a valid choice.