Monday, November 19, 2018

What did Donald Trump do today?

He tried to take credit for the capture of Osama bin Laden.

Yesterday, in an interview with Fox News, Trump was asked about comments by retired Adm. William McRaven, who had criticized Trump's attacks on the free press. Predictably, Trump attacked McRaven, blaming him for not "finding Osama bin Laden sooner."

McRaven commanded the Navy SEAL team that, in 2011, killed the al-Qaeda terrorist leader.

Apparently caught off-guard by the public reaction to his questioning of McRaven's military competency, Trump doubled down today. He insisted that bin Laden should have been captured because Trump had mentioned bin Laden in a 2000 book, tweeting, "Of course we should have captured Osama Bin Laden long before we did. I pointed him out in my book just BEFORE the attack on the World Trade Center."

In that book, The America We Deserve, Trump (or his ghostwriter) mentions bin Laden exactly once:
One day we’re all assured that Iraq is under control, the UN inspectors have done their work, everything’s fine, not to worry. The next day the bombing begins. One day we’re told that a shadowy figure with no fixed address named Osama bin-Laden is public enemy number one, and U.S. jetfighters lay waste to his camp in Afghanistan. He escapes back under some rock, and a few news cycles later it’s on to a new enemy and new crisis.
This isn't the first time Trump has demanded praise for "predicting" bin Laden. But bin Laden was already infamous in the United States, and already being pursued by the military long before Trump "pointed him out." 

Trump has tried to write himself into the bin Laden story in other ways, too: he lied about sending relief workers to the World Trade Center, and he lied about personally helping with the rescue efforts.

Why should I care about this?

  • There is a difference between having read a newspaper article about a terrorist and helping to capture him.
  • It's bad if the commander-in-chief of the United States military is contemptuous of the people who serve in it.
  • Presidents who can't bear to hear any criticism aren't emotionally fit for the job.