Look, let’s just be happy that he didn’t use the occasion to pardon any war criminals. That had been on his mind too until recently.
The president was personally taken aback by the nearly across-the-board resistance to his administration’s consideration of pardons for several U.S. servicemen accused of grisly crimes in war zones, two people familiar with the situation told The Daily Beast.
The sources also noted that Trump, while monitoring much of the reaction in newspapers and cable news last month, had not expected the blowback to be as fierce and widespread among veterans as it was. Eventually, he decided to tap the brakes on the highly controversial idea, with the possibility of revisiting it in the future…
“The military is a profession, and it has professional standards. Non-professional militaries hold themselves above the law,” said David Desroches, a former senior Pentagon official. “And America’s military prides itself on operating within the law. If you have guys committing war crimes, and getting away with it, that really damages our effort tactically. No one is going to cooperate with us.”
I absolutely believe that he was “taken aback.” Here he was, the country’s top military authority, effectively prepared to tell his subordinates to be as rough as they desired in the field and not to worry about the repercussions. It was a token of his affection for servicemen. In Trump’s worldview, what could be sweeter than unaccountability?
So imagine his confusion when many veterans were mortified by the idea. What kind of person, he must have wondered, would decline a license to be ruthless with their enemies?
Answer: An honorable person, of course. He must be mystified by the reaction.
It’s not the only weird thing he’s said or done recently related to war either, but this stuff long ago lost the power to shock. (Coming from him, at least.) His famous remark about McCain’s imprisonment in Vietnam, that he was a “war hero” only because he was captured and that he likes soldiers who don’t get captured, was made just a month into his presidential campaign in 2015. This is who he is and has been from the start. Plus, as even Tapper acknowledges, his formal remarks at today’s D-Day commemoration were excellent. I’d have posted video of his speech myself but Ed beat me to it; watch it here if you haven’t had a chance yet. When he has an address prepared and is facing a crowd that doesn’t hang on his every word, i.e. he’s not at a rally, he can be very good. His speechwriters are consistently top-notch. It’s when he goes off the cuff that things tend to go sideways. As I say, we knew what he’d be like when we nominated him.