By INDIRA MOOSAI
President Donald Trump made a visit to the MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa on Monday, Feb. 6, to receive national security briefings and to speak to troops. His speech contained many faulty statements, including alarming word choices and attacks on the press.
He strangely started off by celebrating his new role as President, stating, “We had a wonderful election, didn’t we? And I saw those numbers, and you liked me, and I liked you. That’s the way it worked.”
There is a disconcerting problem with this; while it didn’t harm anyone, it’s a display of favoritism that shouldn’t be there once one takes a seat in the executive office. A person in his position shouldn’t boast about his victories then proceed to talk about who likes who. It is unclassy. This implies that his high opinion of the military stems from the individuals who supported his campaign and not from the work that they do or the service they provide. As stated in the Washington Post, exit polls suggest that veterans voted for Trump at almost a 2:1 margin; given that this speech was made in the swing state of Florida, this was definitely on his mind. So, they’ll be receiving extra perks.
After the opening, he proceeded to inform the military audience that they’d be receiving “beautiful new planes and beautiful new equipment.” In his classic, Trumped-up style, he claimed, “You have been lacking a little equipment. We are going to load it up. You are going to get a lot of equipment. Believe me.”
He seemed to be trying to pursue the military, wooing them with promises of fancy equipment. It was as if he was giving a campaign speech all over again. This in itself doesn’t make much sense, for it is known that the military is legally not supposed to get involved in politics; they stand to be nonpartisan. According to Department of Defense Directive 1344.10, “Members on active duty should not engage in partisan political activity,” and “Members not on active duty should avoid inferences that their political activities imply or appear to imply official sponsorship, approval, or endorsement.” This suggests that Trump may just be oblivious. Ridiculous? Yes. Unexpected? No. We have seen him commit other absurdly unpresidential acts. For instance, he claimed he wasn’t “fully briefed” after signing an executive order to give Steve Bannon a seat on the National Security Council. In this situation, he seemed to have signed off on an executive order that he didn’t understand the details of, and he needed someone to explain it to him. This suggests that he doesn’t read the orders he carries out, which is disturbing.
Trump then praised Governor Rick Scott for endorsing him, calling him “a great friend of [mine]”. He continued, “If they don’t endorse, believe me. If you’re ever in this position, it’s never quite the same, ok? You can talk, but it never means the same.”
By “they,” Trump is referring to other political actors that may not support him. This is a troubling statement, given the previous instances of biased favoritism and wooing; he is saying that if one doesn’t agree with him, or share his point of view, trouble is ahead. This is not an empty threat. Trump fired Attorney General Sally Yates on Jan. 30 for advising the justice department not to defend his Muslim ban. In other words, he is setting a dictatorship under democracy.
Towards the end of his speech, Trump took a few moments to discuss the press. He did so in an unsavory manner. Referring to terrorist attacks such as 9/11 and the Boston marathon bombing, Trump stated, “the very, very dishonest press doesn’t want to report it. They have their reasons and you understand that.”
Trump didn’t say anything more about the press in this speech, but this attack on their credibility is terrifying.The media is supposed to be unbiased and impartial for the purposes of keeping the people informed. If people don’t trust journalists to deliver accurate and honest news, the resulting uninformed speculation will force them to biased sources, such as Trump himself.
From reading these statements, it is clear that Trump’s speech at MacDill Air Force Base would be considered a decline in presidential standards. Our president may know how to deliver a campaign speech to rile up the crowds, but that may be all he can do.
Indira Moosai can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.