On the campaign trail, nothing is coincidental.
As the old saying goes, “Politics is show business for ugly people.” And true to form, the ugly, shady characters involved stage every moment as if it were a big-budget Hollywood production.
From “candid,” emotional conversations between candidates and struggling American everymen to the seemingly packed rooms at every “impromptu” diner visit and speaking engagement along the way, a great campaign is a story intended to make you feel something strongly and vote accordingly.
So, when anonymous allegations of apathetic, unpatriotic behavior just so happen to surface around a candidate in the closing months of the campaign — only to be followed by a viral advertisement on the topic hours later — it should probably raise a few eyebrows.
Within 24 hours of a controversial Thursday report from The Atlantic alleging President Donald Trump privately disparaged fallen U.S. troops as “losers” and “suckers,” the left-wing veterans political action committee VoteVets released a full-fledged viral campaign advertisement on the incident.
Donald Trump called our fallen troops “suckers” and “losers.”
They can’t speak for themselves, but these 6 Gold Star families speak for our fallen.
Here is their POWERFUL message.#GoldStarParentsAgainstTrump #VeteransAgainstTrump pic.twitter.com/ZnbFevqkNR
— VoteVets (@votevets) September 4, 2020
The anonymously sourced article claimed Trump had canceled a visit to Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and World War I memorial on a 2018 trip to France, disinterested in honoring the American dead and unwilling to see his hair ruined by the day’s rain.
“Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers,” the president allegedly said, adding in later conversations that the 1,800 U.S. Marines who fell in battle at Belleau Wood were “suckers” for fighting and dying during a war in which they had no personal interest.
The administration has long maintained that the trip was canceled over weather conditions unconducive to helicopter flight and the Secret Service’s unwillingness to conduct impromptu ground transportation for the president while abroad.
According to The Atlantic’s sources, this was all a lie — but several high-ranking administration officials, including the ousted and widely unloved National Security Advisor John Bolton, have come to the president’s defense with regard to the allegations, while no one has come forward in support of the original story.
None of this, however, kept left-wing politicos from capitalizing on the unsubstantiated anonymous claims.
In a minute-long attack ad targeting Trump, VoteVets interspersed somber music and screen captures from the article with video of modern-era Gold Star parents rebuking the president for his remarks and alleged inability and unwillingness to “understand” the cost of “honorably serving his country.”
“My son is not a loser,” said the mother of Sgt. James Anthony Ayube II, who was killed in Afghanistan roughly a decade ago. “My message to Donald Trump is this: You have no right being the commander-in-chief.”
Now, it is worth noting that the remarks listed by The Atlantic are not entirely outside the realm of possibility for this president, given his often heated personal rivalry with war hero and former Republican Sen. John McCain and his penchant for spouting off at the mouth.
Of course, the anonymous nature of the allegations makes it hard to take them with anything more than a grain of salt.
Former Marine Corps reservist, Army soldier and Army National Guardsman Dan McKnight, founder of nonprofit veterans organization Bring Our Troops Home, told The Western Journal on Wednesday that the president’s record stands at odds with allegations of disdain for the troops.
“President Trump’s efforts and what he’s done for the military prove otherwise,” McKnight said, highlighting everything from improvements to the Department of Veterans Affairs to bold Middle East troop withdrawals unpopular with the Washington establishment.
“When he goes to Dover Air Force Base and the way he talks about that being his most difficult job as the president is to go over and welcome home those troops that are coming home with a flag draped over their coffin, the way he has fought so vigorously for the VA and for veterans choice so that we can get better health care for our veterans, the way he is constantly talking about ending the wars and constantly talking about not sending the American military to go fight some sectarian conflict that’s been going on for generations: The comments in the Atlantic article don’t jibe with reality,” he said.
A recent poll of 1,018 active-duty troops conducted by the Military Times, however, indicates the president may be losing ground with American servicemen in a way he never has before, viewed unfavorably by a plurality of respondents and underperforming Democratic rival Joe Biden by nearly double the poll’s margin of error of 2 percentage points.
This result only underscores questions regarding whether The Atlantic report and suspiciously quick campaign advertising follow-up were part of a staged political hit on the president — as does the fact that these allegations were sat on for roughly two years.
Coming with only two months to go until Election Day, such a hit — one that would further shake loyalties within the 2016 Trump base — could cause serious damage to the president’s re-election bid.
Regardless of whether The Atlantic’s claims are true, the potential for misinformation to skew voter perceptions so deeply in this case alone bears credence to recent arguments in favor of checking media power with increased accountability through the naming of sources.
But good luck getting the Fourth Estate to accept accountability measures when its goal of left-wing governance is within reach.
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