More US Troops Riding With Biden Than Saluting President Bone Spurs
Active-duty service members aren't crazy about the current commander-in-chief. According to a recent poll from the Military Times, almost half of troops (49.9 percent) have an unfavorable opinion of Donald Trump, and a significant 42 percent “strongly disapprove" of Trump's presidency. Forty-three percent of service members are riding with Joe Biden, giving him a six-point lead over Trump.
Another 13 percent said they plan to vote for a third-party candidate, and nearly 9 percent said they plan on skipping the election altogether. About 40 percent of troops surveyed identified as Republican or Libertarian, 16 percent Democrats, and 44 percent independent or another party.
"It's fair to say that Trump is not as popular as Republican nominees have been in the past among this group," said Peter Feaver, a White House adviser to former President George W. Bush who now works as a political science professor at Duke University. "The bottom line is that in 2020, Trump can't be claiming to have overwhelming support in the military."
This is a big blow for Trump. In October 2016, Trump had a 20-point advantage over Hillary Clinton among service members, and in 2012, active and reserve troops overwhelmingly supported Mitt Romney (66 percent) over Barack Obama (26 percent). This is usually a conservative demo, and it's not like Trump is making up ground elsewhere, despite his tweeting nonsense predictions about carrying 15 percent of the Black vote.
Maybe some of them are weirded out by how Trump doesn't seem to care that Vladimir Putin has been paying Taliban fighters bounties for the heads of American troops. Maybe they don't like how Trump continually abandons our allies and puts our own troops in danger.
Maybe troops don't appreciate Trump's scuzzy treatment of actual heroes such as Purple Heart recipient Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, who testified in the impeachment of Trump. The president fired Vindman from his post at the National Security Council, and while he was playing tinpot dictator, he fired his twin brother, Yevgeny Vindman, as well. Alexander Vindman was escorted out of the White House like a common criminal because he dared testify truthfully against common criminal Trump.
CNN reported at the time of the purge:
An adviser to Trump said the firings of the major impeachment witnesses was meant to send a message that siding against the President will not be tolerated.
"Flushing out the pipes," the adviser told CNN. "It was necessary."
Jesus, they're all a bunch of scumbags.
Respected military leaders such as retired Marine general and former Trump Defense Secretary Jim Mattis have denounced Trump in searing public statements. Michael Schmidt's upcoming book says former White House chief of staff John Kelly, also a retired Marine general, was continually surprised that Trump demanded absolute loyalty to himself personally instead of "the Constitution and the rule of law." Kelly apparently never saw a single mobster movie.
Active duty service members' disapproval of the president has risen 12 points in the past four years. This is a stark contrast from Trump's relationship with law enforcement, which has remained strong during his reign of terror. They arguably share the same reductive view of the world: “Us" vs. “Them." They also don't like “squealers."
Trump presents himself as a “champion" of the armed forces. He's claimed he “completely rebuilt the military" (an absurd lie) and that he gave troops their first pay raise in a decade (a more restrained lie but still bullshit). However, earlier this year, he dismissed the possible traumatic brain injuries troops suffered during an airstrike as “headaches." He's overruled military commanders and reversed punishments on MAGA war criminals.
Biden's standing in this poll probably isn't entirely about Trump. He has more to offer than just bluster, and troops generally appreciate the value of maintaining our alliances. They don't actually want to fight never-ending wars, whereas the police believe “public safety" is only achieved through unyielding force.
The former vice president's late son, Beau, joined the military in 2003 and served in Iraq from 2008 to 2009, which is far more than Trump's twin Fredos ever contributed to the nation's defense.
Here's an awesome clip of Biden smacking around former Attorney General John Ashcroft and explaining how torture's not just gross but also endangers the lives of US soldiers, including his son.
WRAP Attorney General testifies on Iraq torture youtu.be
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."