Not surprising, but conservatives (and, unfortunately, a lot of people in the media) are falling over themselves to praise Trump’s recitation of the words on a teleprompter prepared by someone else as Super Presidential. And they’re playing their favorite game, called “Context Don’t Real” (tweets were deleted, so I had to salvage them from screenshots):
They’re trying to claim that Trump’s recognition of slain Navy SEAL Ryan Owens, and subsequent two-minute standing ovation, was incredibly powerful and moving. Of course, you could only think this if you knew nothing of Trump’s bipolar relationship with the military. You’d have to ignore, for example, his attacks on slain Army Captain Humayan Kahn’s family. And you’d have to ignore that earlier that same day he blamed military generals for Owens’s death:
“This was something that was, you know, just — they wanted to do,” Trump said. “ And they came to see me and they explained what they wanted to do, the generals, who are very respected.”
“And they lost Ryan,” Trump continued.
And you’d have to ignore that he approved the mission without sufficient intelligence. But even if you want to make the case that that’s not a fair assessment, the plan had been formulated long before, rakka rakka rakka, he still approved the mission. And approving an operation where you know military personnel might get killed—because that’s the nature of military operations—you take responsibility for it. You don’t pass the buck because someone else told you it was a great idea and you trusted them and they were wrong.
But more than that, T. Becket Adams’s tweet is consistent with conservative ‘ideology.’ The facts of the raid haven’t changed. Owens is dead, and so are at least thirty civilians, no significant intelligence was gathered despite Sean Spicer’s claim to the contrary, and Qassim al-Rimi—the target of the attack—is still alive and mocking Trump. But what Adams is attempting to do is standard conservative fodder: blur the line between ‘support our troops’ and ‘support our policy.’
It’s pretty simple: Conservatives laud the bravery of military service members who die in combat and conflate any criticism of the decisions that led to their deaths as attacks on their character. This conveniently sidesteps the real question of “is this a policy worth supporting?” You can see it here in this follow-up tweet:
Who? Well, Owens’s dad, for one:
Why at this time did there have to be this stupid mission when it wasn’t even barely a week into his administration? Why? For two years prior, there were no boots on the ground in Yemen — everything was missiles and drones — because there was not a target worth one American life. Now, all of a sudden we had to make this grand display?
Beyond the obvious, which is that Adams’s wording implies a two-minute standing ovation regarding Owens’s death is the benefit of his death, you can see that Adams is saying Owens’s death shields Trump from any criticism of ordering a botched raid because Trump used him as a prop in his joint address. Any closer and Adams would have to say, “Trump exploiting Carryn Owens’s grief in front of the nation for his own benefit is a really good move because he now evades culpability!”
You sure as hell didn’t see this kind of reaction from the right after Benghazi, did ya?
Unfortunately, it’s not just far-right media types that are fawning over Trump’s gesture. Here’s Van Jones:
Jones said Trump’s tribute to Navy SEAL Ryan Owens, who died in a raid in Yemen, was “one of the most extraordinary moments you have ever seen in American politics, period” and that it was the moment Trump “became President of the United States.” He also said it’s the kind of thing that could make Trump a two-term president.
I agree that acting as he did last night will trick a lot of people into thinking he or his policies aren’t insane, and that that could lead to a second term—but “one of the most extraordinary moments” in American politics? Praising fallen soldiers is par for the course as far as the presidency goes. The only thing extraordinary about it is how obvious it is that he doesn’t care, and how brazen he is in using that man’s death to elevate himself. But the media will fellate itself over this.