This seems to be the kind of mistake that has plagued the Trump campaign of late as it becomes more aggressive in the waning days before primary voters start making their decisions. An earlier ad on border security showed refugees trying to swarm across the border — in Morocco. The Trump campaign explained that away as saying that without Donald Trump as president, the Rio Grande would soon look the same.
This gaffe is a little more difficult to explain away. In the original version of Trump’s Facebook video, pay close attention to the medals on the veterans that Trump pledges to restore to full pride:
Ted Cruz’ campaign was quick to note something amiss:
— Josh Perry (@MrJoshPerry) January 22, 2016
Josh Perry, a campaign aide for GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz, tweeted out images of the soldiers’ medals that clearly show prominent Russian symbols like the Communist hammer and sickle.
Since it was first posted, the video has been changed to replace the picture with one of the business mogul greeting a man with prosthetic arms who appears to be a veteran.
The Trump campaign made a similar gaffe in its first television ad focusing on immigration that showed images of Morocco while warning against immigrants coming through “our southern border.”
This isn’t the first political-campaign mistake of its kind, either. In 2012, the Democratic National Convention hailed American veterans with an on-stage presentation that featured pictures of the Navy … the Russian navy, as it turned out. Republicans had a field day with that gaffe, although clearly it made no difference in the end. Incompetence was already baked into the cake, and proof of that was unfortunately right at hand. This gaffe came out the day after the sacking of the consulate in Benghazi, which buried this incompetence in the fallout from a more deadly variety.
Obviously, Donald Trump doesn’t select the images for his ads himself — he hires the people who do. But that’s an issue that goes to the heart of his argument, that he has such super-competence that Trump can succeed where no one else has in the presidency. After all, the boss who popularized “You’re fired!” as a business strategy was making an appearance in the ad; shouldn’t that have been a signal for a high-quality presentation, rather than just a grab bag of Googled images?
Organizational brilliance was the undergirding for both his reality-show career and his political campaign. Missing something as simple as which country issued the medals in a picture of veterans doesn’t exactly cast his organization as super-competent. One gaffe may be an anomaly, two might be a coincidence, but three starts looking like a pattern. Voters might be asking themselves who will wind up running the government and crafting policy, especially since this ad — and other Trump ads and speeches — are so light on actual policy and substance. If Republican opponents don’t attack on this point, you can bet Democrats won’t be nearly as shy.