Donald Trump loves the troops—LOVES them. You can tell because Trump, the self-described “least racist person,” has indulged in some pretty racist behavior on their behalf. Things like calling black NFL players “sons of b*tches” for protesting racial injustice and police abuse during the national anthem, something he claims dishonors “the troops.” He also likes to use them as props for his political speeches, which other presidents have not done.
Of all the troops, the veterans are the ones he loves best (as long as they’re not John McCain). He loves them so much he let his rich buddies at Mar-A-Lago have a hand in running the Department of Veterans Affairs and appointed his very first Apprentice winner, Omarosa Manigault-Newman, as a liaison between veterans and his administration.
Unfortunately, this love is not exactly mutual, and some veterans groups balked at having a grossly inexperienced reality television star as the point-person for veterans issues. But they soon learned that dealing with that particular reality TV star wasn’t as bad as dealing with the one in the Oval Office, as a story by the Daily Beast explains.
Early in his administration, Donald Trump and Omarosa convened a meeting with the leaders of veterans groups so they could pretend to care about the issues they care about and it somehow spiraled into a “really f*cking weird” (according to one attendee) argument about the movie Apocalypse Now.
During a discussion about giving more assistance to Vietnam veterans affected by the toxic defoliating chemical, Agent Orange, Trump went off the rails and asked if it was “that stuff from that movie,” referring to Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now.
According to the Daily Beast,
“Source[s] present at the time tell The Daily Beast that multiple people—including Vietnam War veterans—chimed in to inform the president that the Apocalypse Now set piece he was talking about showcased the U.S. military using napalm, not Agent Orange.
Trump refused to accept that he was mistaken and proceeded to say things like, ‘no, I think it’s that stuff from that movie.’
One clue belying the president’s insistence is that the famous Robert Duvall line from the scene in Apocalypse Now, ‘I love the smell of napalm in the morning,’ is not ‘I love the smell of Agent Orange in the morning.’”
But it gets worse. After being told he was mistaken, rather than taking the L and deferring to, you know, actual Vietnam veterans who spend their lives working on the issue, Trump went around the table polling people, asking whether the “stuff” from the movie was Agent Orange or napalm. David Weidman, himself a Vietnam vet, had started the discussion and tried his best to correct the president.
Finally, Trump made eye contact again with Weidman and asked him if it was napalm or Agent Orange. The VVA co-founder assured Trump, as did several before him, that it was in fact napalm, and said that he didn’t like the Coppola film and believed it to be a disservice to Vietnam War veterans.
According to two people in attendance, Trump then flippantly replied to the Vietnam vet, “Well, I think you just didn’t like the movie,” before finally moving on.
Imagine surviving the Vietnam War, then working to help your fellow vets and scoring a meeting with the President of the United States only to find yourself sitting across from a couple of the dumbest reality television celebrities in history.
If you’re wondering if the VA ever granted broader eligibility to Vietnam vets affected by Agent Orange, they have not. (I mean it’s not like they have bone spurs, right?)
h/t: Daily Beast