Former FBI agent Josh Campbell is an analyst with CNN, and a very good one. And maybe we should thank him for reminding us to take at face value what seems to be reasonable action:
Three things can all be true at the same time:— Josh Campbell (@joshscampbell) December 27, 2018
* A President honorably visiting troops overseas
* Deployed troops grateful to see their President
* A White House using troops as political pawns in photo ops
Admittedly, President Trump on Wednesday visited soldiers in Iraq, whom he used as political pawns in photo ops while they were glad to see him. The New York Times reports
on Wednesday, about 100 American servicemen and women, some of whom were wearing red “Make America Great Again” caps, greeted Mr. Trump with a standing ovation in Al Asad Air Base’s dining facility, which had been decorated for Christmas. He and Mrs. Trump spent about 15 minutes there talking with the troops.
Pictures of red MAGA hats on soldiers, a standing ovation, and a quick in-and-out make for a near-perfect photo-op. The soldiers would have had to be near-insane, or at least aberrant, not to be grateful when someone who occupies an office formerly held by the leader of the Free World flies from half the globe over to see them.
They can be expected to be proud, too, to be congratulated for doing a "great job" and elated being told by Trump that he got them "a big one."
Raise, that is, at least presumably. The President asserted that he had gotten them a 10% raise after they had gotten no raise at all for 10 years.
The 10% raise was actually 2.6%. Active-duty military personnel have received a raise each year for at least the past 56 years and this was the third biggest, not the largest, of the past eleven years. Moreover, the increases are tied to increases in private-sector raises, though Congress can hike them. (This was not the first of his lies on the subject; from May, below.)
Otherwise, Trump's assertions were accurate (And how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?). That does not make the President's visit "honorable." Neither was it made more honorable because Trump proudly did a selfie with members of Seal Team Five, whose presence in Iraq had been confidential. (If it's good enough for the Israelis, it should be good enough for our soldiers.)
It's tempting for liberals to show our fairness, objectivity and bipartisan bonafides by supporting President Trump when he does something normal, such as visiting American soldiers in a war zone. But buyer, beware. Norm Eisen of CREW sums up:
On the other hand,Trump managed on one short trip to lie about the troops’ pay increase, to lead them to violate the rule against political activity by signing his campaign gear, & to expose the identity of Navy SEALs, perhaps endangering their lives. I’d say its a wash at best. https://t.co/zzw36h4gUt— Norm Eisen (@NormEisen) December 27, 2018