From even before Donald Trump declared that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue without losing support it’s been … kind of true. No matter what Trump has done, not matter what scandals have emerged, everything has seemed to strike with all the force of a projectile labelled “Nerf.” However, the word that Trump not only denigrated John McCain’s military service, but called the fallen soldiers at a military cemetary “suckers” and “losers” seems to have cracked Trump’s tacky gold-plating.
Why this particular affair has Trump running scared after he’s survived been caught out: Trying to extort lies from a foreign government, putting children in cages to demonstrate deliberate cruelty, and attempting genocide against blue states is not exactly clear. It doesn’t appear to be clear to Trump either, but it’s definitely having an impact. And his flailing attempts to make things better have all the subtlety and effectiveness of watching a man try to repair a broken window with a hammer.
The more Trump swings, the bigger the cracks.
Overnight, Trump’s anger went to DEFCON 1 as Fox News not only ran with the issue of Trump’s demeaning veterans, but seemed to scoff at Trump’s first weak volley of denial. Then Fox national security correspondent Jennifer Griffin said this: “I’ve spoken with two U.S. officials who were on the trip to France who confirmed to me key details in The Atlantic article and the quotes attributed to the president.” Griffin even expanded on the additional article by citing another time Trump had used exactly the terms “sucker” to describe people who went to Vietnam.
Having this story run on Fox sent Trump into a spiral. First he desperately clung to counter-claims from decidedly faded, third-tier sources like Breitbart. Then Sarah Sanders was brought out of her retirement dungeon to stare fixedly at the story and demonstrate that she hasn’t lost her ability to lie on demand by saying that Trump would never do this because he was so torn up by having to call family members of fallen troops. Sanders did not mention that Trump’s words of comfort included telling a military widow that her husband “knew what he signed up for” as she grieved over his casket.
When sending out someone out known mainly for lying on a daily basis didn’t rescue Trump’s dangling butt, he pulled out the big guns and trotted out the only family member who got a decent rating during the RNC: Melania. Only, not actual Melania. Because the bland tweet complaining about journalists and the use of anonymous sources clearly came straight from Trump (though maybe Melania was the one who checked the spelling).
The Melania-esque tweet was the start of a real pivot … to attacking journalists. And not just the authors of the article at The Atlantic. Instead, Trump began demanding that Fox fire Griffin for having the audacity to actually report what her sources told her rather than toeing the Trump line. In the process, Trump claimed that Griffin “did not confirm the most salacious part” of the story … raising questions of just what Trump thinks is the worst part of this story. Griffin’s sources both confirmed that Trump had called soldiers “suckers,” didn’t want to honor war dead at the cemetary outside Paris, and didn’t want wounded veterans in military parades because “it was not a good look”. Is there something else Trump thinks is worse?
Now Trump has moved on to the search for those sources, and he thinks he has one identified.
Sure. Denigrating John Kelly is the perfect capper. After all, four-star general John Kelly only served in the military for 46 years. Does that make him a sucker or a loser?