On a Thanksgiving Day that began with the President of the United States telling us that he was thankful for himself (he really did), Mr. Trump’s second Thanksgiving in office was marked by his decision to convert the traditional Thanksgiving holiday into one more akin to the celebration of Festivus.
Any Seinfeld fan worth his or her salt remembers the alternative holiday taking place each year on December 23rd as celebrated by the Costanza family. It was the “Festivus for the rest of us”, a rejection of the more commercial celebration of Christmas with its own holiday traditions centered around the airing of grievances, feats of strength and an aluminum pole with a very high strength-to-weight ratio.
The only thing missing from Trump’s version of Festivus was the aluminum pole.
Speaking by phone to members of our military stationed around the world, far from where their families were celebrating Thanksgiving without them, the President chose to spend much of his time airing his many grievances for the benefit of the television cameras that were recording and broadcasting his conversation.
Apparently, the President thought it was a good idea to spend much of the time dedicated to his conversations with our military folks serving in war zones to complain about our trade deals, the American judicial system, the need to deploy the military to our Southern border and his displeasure with the Navy’s choice to use electromagnetic catapults instead of steam to launch planes off of ships.
“Would you go with steam or would you go with electromagnetic? Because steam is very reliable, and the electromagnetic, unfortunately, you have to be Albert Einstein to really work it properly,” asked Mr. Trump.
The officer on the other end of the line responded,
“You have to be Albert Einstein to run the nuclear power plants that we have here, as well. But we’re doing that very well. I would go, sir, with electromagnetic,”
Touche. I’m sure that poor officer-who would have greatly preferred to be at the table with his family rather than having this uncomfortable conversation with the President-really appreciated being put on the spot before the entire nation and forced, in an effort to tell the truth, to contradict his Commander-In-Chief.
Trump wasn’t finished as a Navy Commander in Bahrain was required to weigh in on trade.
“As you know, trade for me is a very big subject,” Trump said as he complained to the Commander that the United States was being ripped off everywhere in the world. “We don’t have any good trade deals.”
The Navy man struggled to respond, no doubt fully aware that members of our military do not offer up political opinions in public. He went with a tactical answer, pointing out that there were an abundant amount of goods being carried on nearby waters. “We don’t see any issues in terms of trade right now,” the officer said.
Good for him. The President’s Thanksgiving Day gift to this officer had been to put him in an impossible position and the Navy Commander handled it deftly.
Clearly, our military officers possess far more good sense and decorum than their Commander-In-Chief can muster up.
Trump then continued with the “feats of strength” portion of his Festivus celebration, reminding the military officers participating in the conversation that Hillary Clinton had probably deleted hundreds of thousands of emails; that the economy under his predecessor was “going down to minus 4…5…6 percent”; and that the nation was “teetering” before he arrived in office.
None of this was remotely true. None of this was something the military people participating were interested in hearing during their conversation with the President. None of this did anything to bolster the moral of our troops who were likely missing home and family on this day. And none of this was designed to give thanks to our brave military separated from their families for their sacrifice.
It was all about another day in the self-glorification and griping of the President.
Certainly, we have come to understand and expect some bizarre rhetoric coming from the White House or Mar-A-Lago in the age of Trump. To varying degrees, Americans have learned to live with it as it is simply a part of the reality we are experiencing.
But perverting a presidential Thanksgiving message to our troops seems so discordant and un-American as to require individual Americans to take special notice and step up our own, personal efforts. We must make an effort to communicate just how thankful the rest of us are for the military service of these hard working men and women who went to work yesterday so we could enjoy our Thanksgiving festivities in security and peace.
I am thankful for the brave service of our military and I very much hope their families-the ones with an empty chair at their Thanksgiving dinners-know that the American public greatly appreciates their sacrifice.
As for the Trump family, I will leave them to enjoy their Festivus celebration.
I’m sure their aluminum pole was the very best money can by.