The Ultimate Hypocrisy

It’s rather like an arsonist being invited to speak at a convention of fire-fighters, or a murderer speaking to a cadre of police officers.  Like a cat at a gathering of canines, or a 6th grade dropout giving a talk to college grads.  It simply doesn’t make sense that a 5-time draft dodger is giving a graduation commencement address at the United States Naval Academy!  And yet, Donald Trump was, indeed, invited to do just that.  Two 2001 graduates from the Naval Academy wrote an OpEd that was published on Tuesday, 22 May in the Baltimore Sun, contrasting the virtues of former Naval Academy graduates with the debauchery Trump was engaging in at the same time.  I think the article is worth sharing here, for it sums the contrast better than I could.

Trump Has Little Advice To Offer Naval Academy Graduates

By Daniel Barkhuff, William Burke

In 1969, after having already been held hostage for four years, a graduate of the United States Naval Academy faced a lonely choice in a North Vietnamese prison camp: how to prevent his captors from using him in a propaganda piece. James Stockdale chose to smash his own face in with a stool rather than give “aid and comfort” to the enemy.

In the early years of Stockdale’s seven-year imprisonment, the current president of the United States was enjoying the comforts of Wharton Business School, having received four draft deferments to attend college (he received another after graduation for supposedly having bone spurs in his heels). He would later go on to make fun of POWs of that era, claiming John McCain was not a war hero because he was captured.

In 1972, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy named John Ripley low-crawled and pulled himself along the underside of the Dong Ha bridge for over three hours, making multiple trips with explosives. His actions, all done under fire from the North Vietnamese Army, earned him the Navy Cross for valor. In 1972, Donald Trump, who took over his father’s apartment rental business, was a year away from being sued by the Justice Department for refusing to rent apartments in one of his buildings to black people.

On Sept. 11, 2001, thousands of graduates of the U.S. Naval Academy steeled themselves for a mission to bring violence to our enemies. After the World Trade Center Towers fell, Donald Trump bragged on TV that a building he owned was now the tallest in downtown Manhattan.

On Feb. 1, 2003, a graduate of the United States Naval Academy named William McCool was at the helm of the space shuttle Columbia when it broke up during reentry. The current president was then gearing up to become the host of a reality TV show called “The Apprentice.”

In late June of 2005, two USNA graduates named Erik Kristensen and Mike McGreevy insisted on being in the lead aircraft riding into a hot landing zone in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley to come to the aid of their wounded, outnumbered and about to be overrun team of SEALs. The helicopter was shot down, and they and more than a dozen others lost their lives. A few months later in that same year, the current president of the United States was captured in a recording bragging about assaulting women: “I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything … Grab ‘em by the [crotch]. You can do anything.”

These are just a few of many examples of graduates of the U.S. Naval Academy making big choices laden with courage and self-sacrifice that come from a history of countless small choices: to be truthful, to stay committed to a code of honor and duty, and to choose a harder right over the easier wrong — even if the choice is contrary to their own short-term personal interests. These are the choices that make one fit to lead.

Contrast this to the personal and professional honor of the sitting president of the United States, who time and again makes small choices guided by self-interest, ego, impulse and immediate self-gratification. He could never do what we ask our U.S. Naval Academy graduates to do. He is a physical coward, a liar and no leader at all.

It is right and fitting that the president of the United States give a commencement address to a service academy’s graduating class. It is also right and fitting that citizens of the democracy for which these graduates will soon be charged with protecting point out the personal cowardice, narcissism and incompetency of the current president.

Those of us who have served in this nation’s wars owe it to our new graduates to point out how better served we would all be if in 2020 our small choices as citizens added up to one big choice — one that will deliver us a leader whose personal choices and conduct are more in keeping with the honorable traditions of our alma mater.

Dr. Daniel Barkhuff (daniel.barkhuff@vfrl.org) is president of Veterans For Responsible Leadership, a 2001 U.S. Naval Academy graduate and a former Navy SEAL. William Burke is the general counsel for VFRL; he was also a 2001 graduate of USNA and served as a submariner from 2001-2006.

37 thoughts on “The Ultimate Hypocrisy

    • Thank you so much, dear one! I wondered the same … I think it would have really sent a statement if either they had all boycotted the ceremony or at least refused to stand and clap when he spoke. Or got up and walked out as soon as he opened his mouth! Hugs, dear friend!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Dear Jill,

    President Trump is the epitome of what I would not want any young man to emulate. I would use him as an example of how not to act. I would refer to Senator McCain as some one to look up to as a role model,

    Did you know that President Trump has an older sister Maryanne Trump Barry who as a NJ attorney had served as a US circuit judge of the US Court of Appeals in the 3rd circuit. She is semi-retired. She obviously keeps her distance.

    Hugs, Gronda

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, back in 2016, before he was even elected, I read an article about his older sister. It speaks volumes that she stays such a good distance from him and his circus that many forget she even exists! 😉
      Hugs!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This creature needs to be eliminated in whatever manner it takes to accomplish the end purpose!

    WHAT was in the minds of those who contacted him to speak???!!?! They deserve whatever they get when he steps in front of the podium (which will no doubt be an endless spate of self-praising remarks).

    Liked by 1 person

    • I wholeheartedly agree with your first sentence!!! I have been saying that for more than a year now, and with every passing month I feel it more strongly.

      I think they invited the title, not the ‘man’. I think it is a longstanding tradition for the prez to give the commencement address, and nobody had the guts to break with tradition. It was a mistake, though, in my book.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I had written a comment yesterday, but then decided it was perhaps too “snarky” and decided not to hit post comment. It is an appalling act to have this man attempt a coherent speech to these young people. The included article clearly states the many reasons and it must be insulting for the writers to endure this travesty. I can think of only one word that Trump could say that would be welcome to the ears…Congratulations! Thank-you.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Too snarky??? You mean … there is such a thing as being TOO snarky??? Who knew? Trust me, on this blog there is no such thing. As long as it’s relatively clean, let the snark fly! And as to the words I would find welcome to the ears, the only ones are “Here is my resignation”. I would do a Snoopy happy dance!!!

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      • After reading part of Trump’s speech, as much as could be endured, I thought the only worthwhile word would have been “Congratulations” to the graduates. I totally agree that the 4 words you chose would be a dream come true, in place of this day-mare we are living! Thank-you! P.S. Prior to retirement I used to say of myself : I do not smoke, I drink on rare occasions and I only swear when provoked. The first two remain true, but it appears that I am provoked more often. To my credit…I refrain from vulgarity and NEVER curse when Benjamin is here or in public. My snarky had seemed a bit extreme, although justified!

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        • I admire you, Ellen!!! I smoke 3 packs a day, like a glass of wine in the evening when the work of the day is done, and … well, I don’t exactly curse like a sailor, but I rarely hold back, either. I do strive for professionalism in my writing and use curse words sparingly here, but if a pack of chicken falls out of the freezer on my foot, as it recently did, you would wish to hold your ears!!! I was once a 4-5 pack a day smoker, but when I retired, I successfully cut back to about 2 a day. And then along came Trump and it’s back up to 3 now. 🙄

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  4. I don’t want to defend Trump, but the same comparisons can probably be made with other politicians and leaders of industry. Maybe the types of people who should be speaking at academy graduations are former graduates, people who attended the academy and then went on to serve their country honorably. They would have a message that will resonate with our future military leaders. You’re right though, Trump hasn’t earned the right to speak to these graduates, or their parents who supported them.
    The Navy should have known better than to put Trump in front of these people, did they not watch the speech he gave at the Boy Scout Jamboree?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good point about vetting the speakers. Before my son’s graduation, the university had Bill Cosby and Lance Armstrong as speakers. In retrospect, that did not turn out well. For his, they had Retired Secretary of State and General Colin Powell. His speech was excellent and many from the town came to hear him. Keith

      Liked by 2 people

    • You make a good point, that many politicians would not truly be qualified to speak to these young grads. I would have liked to see McCain give this address, for I’m sure he won’t be here by next year at this time, and he is a true hero. Oh yes!!! I well remember the fiasco of the Boy Scout Jamboree!!! Frankly, I think the ‘man’ should never be allowed to open his mouth in public …

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  5. Jill, given his nature, his past deferments and his derogatory comments to those who served or lost loved ones, he is not the ideal inspiration to speak. Then, you add his inability to speak in complete, consistent, coherent statements and it causes further rolling of their eyes. “Is this our leader?” must be a question that is asked by these candidates. Plus, his comment that we are more respected around the world is not true. We are more feared given this impulsive, uninformed man. Keith

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, we are more feared, mocked and just generally disliked, all thanks to Bozo. And he says “everybody knows …” How can he know what everybody knows or thinks, when he only listens to his own self. I’m ready to fire this employee of ours ….

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  6. OMG…could the contrast be any starker? And how shameful that a self-indulgent man-child should address those who really do believe in courage and self-sacrifice? Meh…bad taste in mouth.

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    • To me, if I were a member of the military, it would be a slap in the face. Too bad McCain isn’t well enough to have given the address — THAT would have had meaning! Yep, bad taste in my mouth too, and it isn’t from the onions I ate earlier!

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