Report of Trump denigrating fallen soldiers sparks quick backlash

Why are many veterans and military families outraged by The Atlantic article? Apparently because they know enough to believe the reporting is true.
Image: US Troops
Members of the Army march up 5th Avenue during the Veterans Day Parade in New York on Nov. 11, 2012.Carlo Allegri / Reuters

If Donald Trump hoped the uproar in response to Jeffrey Goldberg's article in The Atlantic would die down quickly, the president will probably be disappointed.

On a press call organized by the Biden/Harris campaign, Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) told reporters this morning, “I am not shocked, but I am appalled.” The Illinois senator and decorated combat veteran added, in reference to Trump, "He doesn't understand people's bravery and courage because he's never had any of his own."

Rep. Jason Crow (D-Colo.), a former Army Ranger who served three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, added that the comments attributed to the president represent “the last full measure of his disgrace,” tweaking a line from the Gettysburg Address.

The White House may see comments like these and say they're irrelevant because Democratic members of Congress are expected to criticize a Republican president. But as the Washington Post reported overnight, the swift pushback appears to be far broader.

In 2016, Army veteran David Weissman was an “unapologetic, red-hat wearing” Donald Trump supporter. The Palm Bay, Fla., resident would regularly join social media mobs attacking liberals, he later wrote, seeking to defend a candidate who he said rightfully prioritized the armed forces. Four years later, Weissman -- who served two tours in Afghanistan -- has now sparked a Twitter campaign of former service members against President Trump, over reports that he derided fallen U.S. soldiers as “losers” and “suckers.”

The article added that Weissman’s "online call to arms underscored the outpouring of anger that erupted from military veterans and their families overnight against Trump."

Yes, the president and his team have strenuously denied the accuracy of the reporting. But not only has it been corroborated by other major news organizations, it's also entirely consistent with everything we've seen and heard from this president in recent years.

Why are so many veterans and military families outraged by Goldberg's article? Apparently because they know enough about Trump to believe the reporting is true.

All of this comes on the heels of the latest Military Times poll, which found that a majority of active-duty troops have an unfavorable opinion of the current commander in chief. Looking ahead to Election Day, the same survey found Trump trailing Joe Biden among those in uniform.

In a piece for The Atlantic last fall, Mark Bowden took a closer look at what it's like for U.S. troops to serve under Donald Trump, interviewing "officers up and down the ranks, as well as several present and former civilian Pentagon employees." The results were striking.

"In 20 years of writing about the military, I have never heard officers in high positions express such alarm about a president," the article noted.

And that was before they saw the report about Trump privately denigrating fallen heroes as “losers” and “suckers.”