Friday, September 4, 2020

For the Record: Quiet Part Update

Aisne-Marne American Cemetery, Belleau, when it actually is rainy. Sean Gallup/Getty Images Europe, via Bloomberg.

Interesting bit of disinformation formation  going on around the unlovely figure of former national security adviser John Bolton, from The Hill

John Bolton says he didn't hear Trump insult fallen soldiers in France

to Fox

It appears the anti-Trump memoir from former national security adviser John Bolton is undercutting a bombshell report from The Atlantic that laid out damning claims against President Trump and his canceled 2018 visit to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery in France.

and around the bend to The Federalist, which is ready to assert that Bolton has proved the allegations are false

But it struck me that there was something missing there, like, why would Trump have been talking about this to Bolton in particular?

Bolton's book offers an official view of why Trump didn't go to the Aisne-Marne cemetery, but he clearly doesn't know what if anything happened.

As he himself had acknowledged, as it turned out!

"I didn't hear that, but sure sounds like something he'd say!"

Sure enough, Fox itself has some confirmation of the story, and other material in the Goldberg article, according to Business Insider:

Fox News reported Trump never said that dead US troops were 'suckers,' but the network's national security correspondent said ex-officials confirmed he did

  • Fox News on Friday said the report was fabricated and criticized The Atlantic's use of anonymous sources.
  • However, one of its own — national security correspondent Jennifer Griffin — said parts of the damning report, which cited two ex-Trump administration officials, were verified to her.  
  • "According to one former senior Trump administration official: 'When the President spoke about the Vietnam War, he said, 'It was a stupid war. Anyone who went was a sucker,'" Griffin tweeted.
  • Griffin also reported learning that Trump "just hated" Sen. John McCain and thought it was "not a good look" to include the "wounded guys" in a July 4 military parade.

But Fox doesn't seem to be reporting its own reporting, which is pretty comical (much more at Media Matters).

Further confirmation, for me, is in that last bit of allegation on Trump's fear of looking at people who have lost limbs, and assumption that everybody feels the same, which goes along with my own Piagetian analysis suggesting that Trump's lack of object permanence explains his belief that traumatic brain injury can't be as serious as amputation ("just a headache"), because you can't see it.

Once again I'm glad I'm not a Freudian, but if I were I'd be moving on to castration anxiety and horrified-but-attracted obsession with women urinating, since they have apparently lost their penises. That's as five-year-old psychotic as it gets, folks.

Some people have been asking whether I think this story is going to have any effect on Trump's electoral chances, and as I always say I don't do handicapping, but I imagine what Steve M will probably say (I've studiously avoided looking until I finish this) will be basically right: it won't move the base at all, because they won't care or will deny, as they prefer. I will add that there's a possibility of its moving some veterans or people who identify with veterans, though I don't know how significant that would be in an America where service has become such a restricted and class-identified thing and so few have a direct experience of it (which is maybe how it got so fetishized in the first place (back in the day, everybody knew people who had been in the military, including draft dodgers like me—a bunch of us used to drive from Buffalo to Niagara Falls, the distressed part, not the tourist destination, in meetings that involved innocent games of pool in addition to, possibly, the exchange of controlled substances). And now, with the shrunken all-volunteer army, they don't.

But the theory that Trump's losing support among vets goes along with the recent findings that he's lost it among active-duty folks

Via Military Times, 31 August.

for whatever that's worth. And there's another possibility that really appeals to me, that it might have an impact on Republican senators with an especially strong association with the military alongside a slavish devotion to the incompetent president—those facing complicated elections this year, like Martha McSally in Arizona, Joni Ernst in Iowa, above all Lindsey Graham in South Carolina, exposing their hypocrisy at a more local level.

In the long run, I'd really like, as an old-school pacifist leftist, to hope people on the right would be forced to stop appropriating the military rank and file as emblems of their own patriotism, in the way of which Trump provides such a caricature, and start dealing with them as humans with particular needs and aspirations. That can't happen soon enough.

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