Another Gold Star Feud

One of themes I keep returning to on Twitter is this:

Yes, the media has it in for Trump and will happily blow up even minor gaffes into major crises. Our entire media-political establishment has gotten twitchy and panicky about everything.

But, good Lord does Trump make it easy for them.

I have no idea what was said on the call between Trump and the family of La David Johnson. A Democratic Congresswoman says he said some dumb things and couldn’t remember the soldier’s name. The family has vaguely confirmed this; the Administration has vaguely denied it. I suspect that the family — like most Gold Star families — would rather keep politics away from their tragedy. If forced, I would guess that Trump tried to say something nice but bungled it — i.e., intended to commend Johnson’s bravery but it came out wrong. And now, being Trump, he’s refusing to let it go.

As I said in my post on empathy, part of the job of the President is to make them feel like their concerns are being listened to. Bill Clinton was probably the best I’ve ever seen at this but most Presidents have at least some ability to look people in the eye and make them feel like they care. Trump is able to speak to people’s fears and prejudices, which is probably why he won. But he can’t speak to their higher aspirations, their hopes, their dreams … or their very real sorrows.

This is who he is. We shouldn’t act surprised anymore.

21 comments:

  1. Hal_10000 *

    I liked his press conference. The more I think about this, the more I think Trump just bungled his words and it came out wrong.  And the more I think about it, the more I’m annoyed at this Congresswoman for broadcasting it.  This should be a private matter.

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  2. Tripper

    If forced, I would guess that Trump tried to say something nice but bungled it — i.e., intended to commend Johnson’s bravery but it came out wrong.

    I would agree. Although I may have a bad impression of President Trump, I do not believe he intended to upset the widow or parents of a fallen serviceman.

    He may have done so with his alleged inelegant comments, but surely nobody can believe that he actually intended to.

    Now let’s dig into this a bit.

    A Democratic Congresswoman says he said some dumb things and couldn’t remember the soldier’s name. The family has vaguely confirmed this

    This is true. The Congresswoman relayed what she claims the president said, and the family of the fallen soldier have confirmed that this is what they also heard.

    “the Administration has vaguely denied it.”

    I disagree here.

    Trump vehemently denied it in his tweets.

    Totally fabricated

     “gave a total lie on content

    In supposedly his own words, he’s strongly denying the Congresswoman’s claim about what he said, and in calling her a liar, he is calling this Gold Star Family a liar too since they have agreed with Rep. Wilson’s account.

    So I don’t think we can say they vaguely denied it. Others in the Administration may have, but Trump, the leader of this Administration, and of course the country has been anything but vague.

    Then yesterday, we have Gen. Kelly giving his press conference where he said:

    That’s what the President tried to say to four families the other day. I was stunned when I came to work yesterday morning, and brokenhearted at what I saw a member of Congress doing. A member of Congress who listened in on a phone call from the President of the United States to a young wife, and in his way tried to express that opinion — that he’s a brave man, a fallen hero, he knew what he was getting himself into because he enlisted. There’s no reason to enlist; he enlisted. And he was where he wanted to be, exactly where he wanted to be, with exactly the people he wanted to be with when his life was taken.

    That was the message. That was the message that was transmitted.

    Am I crazy, or did Gen. Kelly just essentially confirm Rep. Wilson’s account of the call?

    We can parse small differences. Rep. Wilson and the family claimed he followed up his “he knew what he was getting into” with “but I guess it still hurt”, while Gen. Kelly doesn’t mention that last bit, so the accounts are not exactly the same, but the difference is hardly the controversial part. Both Kelly and Wilson confirm the “you knew what he was getting into” line. (btw, people can discuss if that line was a bad choice of words or not. Personally I don’t think it was but it’s hardly anything to haul Trump over the coals about either. My concern is with the accusations of lying and determining who actually told the truth.)

    Based on the similarity of both Kelly and Wilson’s accounts of the call, is it at all fair for Trump to claim Wilson’s account was “Totally fabricated” or “a total lie on content”? I think not.

    And if you agree with me that Trump’s comments about Wilson are not fair. Surely it extends from that that Trump is a liar on this topic, and outed as such by his own chief of staff.

    And the more I think about it, the more I’m annoyed at this Congresswoman for broadcasting it.  This should be a private matter.

    Not an unfair statement. But why was she asked at all?

    It has been reported (though I’ve not seen it confirmed) that the Whitehouse tipped off the press that the President would be calling the family of La David Johnson that morning on their way to the funeral home. This is why the local press asked her what the President had said, when she chose to answer them.

    If that is true, it’s also bad form from this Administration, and they surely deserve as much anger for broadcasting it. Perhaps they didn’t share the content of the call, but there was no need to till reporters it was happening in real time, or perhaps even prior to it happening.

    In the same piece it claims that the call was made to an Army Representative who was present with the family and the Congresswoman in the limo.

    According to Wilson, who was sitting in the limo with the family, and an Army representative who held the phone and put it on speaker so that the distraught Mrs. Johnson could talk with the president. . .

    I don’t see anything wrong with this, and in fact it seems exactly right that this representative would be with them at this time, and it’s in line with the general description Gen. Kelly gave about this process.

    But it’s a bit much for the Whitehouse, including Kelly, to now be attacking Wilson as “listening in” since she basically had no choice. The phone was presumably put on speaker so all the family members present could hear at the same time, which doesn’t seem unusual to me. It also seems likely that if they were uncomfortable with Rep. Wilson hearing, they could have said so, and nothing the family have said since indicates they were uncomfortable by her presence.

    Anyway, can we basically all agree the following:

    Trump probably tried to say something nice and bungled it.
    Trump then lied about what he did / did not say
    Trump falsely accused Rep. Wilson of being a liar
    Trump’s lie is proven by his own chief of staff essentially confirming what he said
    Trump and his administration are unfairly attacking Rep. Wilson with these “listening in” claims as if she was imposing on the Staff Sgt. Johnson’s family.

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  3. Hal_10000 *

    Yeah, my post was written before the statements from Kelly and so on.  I agree with that assessment though. Trump bungled it then, being Trump, had to double down and accuse everyone of being a liar.

    I was a bit annoyed that Kelly was accused of being a racist for using the phrase “empty barrel” to describe Wilson.  That’s not a racist phrase; it’s a phrase from Plato and I’m pretty sure that’s where Kelly got it from.

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  4. Tripper

    So let us be clear then.

    Trump lied in his tweets where he claimed Wilson totally fabricated her account, and gave a total lie. He lied to everybody, and he lied about this woman who for all her quirks seems to be a pretty decent person, regardless if you agree with her politics.

    We know it’s a lie because his own chief of staff confirmed to the press what was said on the call and it closely matches Rep. Wilson’s account.

    This is important. I know his lies were made in a tweet, and this isn’t the most significant of issues (It’s important to the family involved, and to the congresswoman who’s being maligned, but the fact that he’s telling a lie here doesn’t have an immediate impact on the nation), he’s not under oath, it’s not an impeachable offence, etc.

    But are all the Trump apologists cool with this? It’s crystal clear here that he reflexively lied to get himself out of a minor slip up. In doing so I’m sure didn’t even think about how his lie paints this fallen soldiers family as liars, and he’s clearly just fine with making false accusations about the congresswoman.

    If he’d even stopped for a second to think about other options, he could have done a much better job. Just say he’s sorry the family took it that way, it wasn’t intended, and trot out Kelly to tell his story. Most people would just forget about it.

    Is it OK for the President to just be blatantly telling lies like this? We’re all supposed to be fine with that now?

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  5. Tripper

    I was a bit annoyed that Kelly was accused of being a racist for using the phrase “empty barrel” to describe Wilson.  

    I agree. Those accusations are stupid. I’m sure Kelly is no racist.

    Lets talk about Kelly some more though.

    In his comments to the press the other day he told a story about Rep. Wilson designed to put her in a negative light. There were a string of specific allegations which almost right away were shown to be false. He claimed she bragged about securing the funding for an FBI building. Her immediate response was to accurately point out the funding had been secured long before she arrived in Congress.

    I suppose one could still brag about it falsely, but a few hours later, video of her speech at the event turned up and it clearly shows Kelly’s recollection of events to be way off, and proves that she didn’t make those statements he was attributing to her.

    So what’s up with Kelly here? Seems like only two options. He had an incorrect recollection but he did honestly believe he was making a true statement. OK, maybe, but I think you owe it to anybody you’re going to bad mouth like that to be sure you’re right. It’s been proven that his statements were false, he should now acknowledge that and offer Rep. Wilson a public apology and set the record straight.

    Or, the more sinister explanation. It was an intentional attempt by this administration to further sully the reputation of Rep. Wilson by intentionally making false claims about her, which they didn’t think would get found out.

    I really don’t know which one is right. If I assume the best intent though, it’s still worrying that the Chief of Staff would stand up to the mic and tell a story like that without being sure he was right.

    Whatever the reason, if you only consider two things: Kelly’s comments about Wilson, and the video of Wilson’s speech at the FBI building dedication, it’s 100% clear that Kelly owes Wilson a public apology. No two ways about it.

    Do we think it will happen? I don’t.

     

    Side note. Hal, I know you’re not one of the Trump apologists. That comment in the previous post was aimed at anybody who is. I’d love to hear him defended on this one.

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  6. Iconoclast

    The one glaring flaw in all of Tripper’s “analysis” is the fact that Wilson should have kept her worthless pie hole shut. As Hal stated, this should have been a private matter.

    Of course the leftist MSM is going to ask a leftists Democrat congress critter the details of an exchange between a Republican President and a Gold Star family, and of course said congress critter is going to spill his/her guts on the matter, painting the POTUS in the most unflattering light humanly possible.  That is as f*cking predictable as the damned sunrise.

    Am I crazy[?]

    In a word, yes.

    When someone takes a statement out of context and presents it in a vacuum, changing the apparent meaning when doing do, then that person is lying.  When Trump tweeted, “gave a total lie on content”, he was absolutely correct, whether you like it or not.  He didn’t lie.  She did, by omission.

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  7. Iconoclast

    Black people huh!

    If they’re tediously and predictably playin’ the race card, yeah.

    That said, it’s typically people of color on the left who tediously and predictably play the race card, and it’s typically in response to valid criticism coming from the right.

    The current example is a case in point.

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  8. Tripper

    The one glaring flaw in all of Tripper’s “analysis” is the fact that Wilson should have kept her worthless pie hole shut. As Hal stated, this should have been a private matter.

    Worthless eh? I’m sure you do a lot more for your community.

    But ok, lets say you’re right about this for a second, she should have kept her mouth shut and is 100% wrong to have told the press.

    That’s still not any kind of gaping flaw in my argument.

    You can argue if she should have said it or not, but she did. Trump claimed she was lying, and Kelly then confirmed her account of it, so who’s lying about this one? Trump obviously.

    Don’t just take my word for it though, 2 Republican Senators are calling him a liar today I see.

    Wilson didn’t take the statement out of context, nor change the meaning. While not quoting the entire call verbatim she recalled what he had said, totally in context, and then he claimed it was a complete fabrication.

    You really have to drink the koolaid to claim that she lied and he’s totally correct.

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  9. Iconoclast

    You really have to drink the koolaid to claim that she lied and he’s totally correct.

    I didn’t claim he was “totally correct”. I claimed that the one tweet was correct.

    And presenting a quote out of context an in a vacuum is a form of lying, lying by omission.

    Your statement was explicitly and inarguably racist.

    Nope.  It’s an observation.  When a leftist person of color kee-jerk screams “racist” at a white guy for calling her an “empty barrel”, she’s being a racist.  And leftist persons of color do this with appalling regularity.  It’s just another way of crying “wolf!”.

    But yeah, I should have made the “leftist” qualification up front. I thought the subsequent qualification should have been enough, but nothing ever is for you guys, apparently.

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  10. Iconoclast

    You really have to drink the koolaid……

    From where I stand, the one drinking koolaid is you.  Since Wilson is black, female and a Democrat, she seems to be above reproach as far as you’re concerned.

    Me?  I don’t give a shit that she’s a member of two distinct victim classes.  I’m going to criticize her anyway.

    And no, I don’t think Trump is “above reproach”, so don’t bother going there.  Again, I didn’t claim he was “totally right”, only that he was “absolutely right” about one specific claim.

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  11. Iconoclast

    CM, you’re falling into the same pattern I observed: You seem to think making observations about certain groups of people is racist. Umm, no, it isn’t.  If I state that prison populations are majority black, or that the majority of black people being shot to death are shot by black people, those aren’t racist statements.  They are unfortunate facts of life.

    Well, yeah, it is predictable that a left wing black person will respond to criticism from the right by calling it “racism”. That is another unfortunate fact of life, and making the observation doesn’t make one a “racist”.

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  12. Iconoclast

    But sure, you can keep calling me “racist” if it makes you feel better. Or “idiot”.  Name calling is apparently all ya got.

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  13. Iconoclast

    Well, yeah, it is predictable that a left wing black person will respond to criticism from the right by calling it “racism”. That is another unfortunate fact of life…..

    If it makes you feel better, it’s just as likely that a leftist white person would respond to such criticism by calling it racist.

    Kind of like you just did…..

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  14. CM

    I called your clearly racist comment racist, dumbass.

    Doesn’t how many subsequent posts you make, what sort of weak-ass qualifications you add later, or how much you try to deflect from it by abusing me. It was purely and simply racist. Not an “unfortunate fact of life” or anything of the sort.

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  15. CM

    For what it’s worth though, I don’t think you’re actually racist. I don’t recall you ever writing anything racist before (AND I’m a leftist so presumably I’m looking for it everywhere LOL).
    Probably easy to slip up when you’re trying so hard to make everything fit a stereotype though. Gotta be more acturate. ‘Words matter’ is what you told me.

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  16. Iconoclast

    …weak-ass qualifications…

    As I said, nothing is ever good enough…..

    …abusing me…

    Oh you poor baby.  This is extremely comical, considering your use of such charming words as “idiot” and “dumbass”.

    “Gotta love the irony”, indeed.

    ‘Words matter’ is what you told me.

    Wrong.  What I keep telling you is that words have meanings, and you keep getting it wrong.  Yes, words do matter, but that is not what I keep telling you.  The fact that you keep getting it wrong after having been corrected several times tells me that you just don’t give a damn.

    When you look up the meaning of “racist”, you will see some aspect of superiority or inferiority in the definition.  So, even though you will doubtlessly read racial superiority or inferiority into my allegedly racist statement, there is nothing inherently racist about it.  It’s an observation.

    If I disapprove of the action and therefore consider my white-assed self superior, it’s still just an observation.

    If I approved of the action, thereby not having any illusion of superiority at all, the observation would still stand.

    But since you have repeatedly demonstrated that you don’t give a damn that words have meanings, you are obviously free to make any asinine claim about my observation that you want.

    Who’s gonna stop you?

    I’m sure you do a lot more for your community.

    Irrelevant red herring.  However, I do pay taxes, which pays her salary.  Therefore, I have every right to criticize her in any way I see fit, and your approval is neither needed nor desired.

     

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