Donald Trump made his first visit to a combat zone yesterday, making a surprise trip to Iraq, where the president spent some time with U.S. troops and defended his decision for a precipitous withdrawal from Syria.
But as part of his pitch, Trump repeated a claim he must know isn't true.
"You just saw that because you just got one of the biggest pay raises you’ve ever received.... It’s great. You know what? Nobody deserves it more. You haven’t gotten one in more than 10 years -- more than 10 years. And we got you a big one. I got you a big one. I got you a big one."They had plenty of people that came up. They said, 'You know, we could make it smaller. We could make it 3 percent. We could make it 2 percent. We could make it 4 percent.' I said, 'No. Make it 10 percent. Make it more than 10 percent.' Because it’s been a long time. It’s been more than 10 years. It’s been more than 10 years. That’s a long time. And, you know, you really put yourselves out there, and you put your lives out there. So congratulations."
It's one thing for the president to peddle this lie at pre-election campaign rallies, but it's worse when he travels halfway around the world to lie to the troops' faces.
First, as regular readers know, it's absurd to think U.S. troops haven't received pay raises in "more than 10 years." In reality, there were raises for our military in 2017. And 2016. And 2015 and 2014. And every other year of the Obama era. And every year of the Bush era. And every year of the Clinton era.
In fact, the military has gotten a raise practically every year since the end of World War II. It’s the sort of detail a Commander in Chief must be aware of.
Second, the latest pay increase for servicemen and women is 2.6%. Trump, in his boasts, nearly quadrupled that number, apparently hoping the troops wouldn't notice the difference.
And third, he described a debate with policymakers who wanted smaller raises, but that conversation did not occur in reality.
The president has been called out for lying about this before, but Trump doesn't seem to care.
E.J. Dionne noted on the show last night that there's supposed to be "something sacred about the obligation of a commander in chief to our troops," and part of that obligation is honesty.
It's a responsibility to which Donald Trump too often appears indifferent.