13 Reasons Why We Know the "Losers and Suckers" Story is True

Yes, Trump really did denigrate our fallen soldiers. Yes, he really did lie when he denied it.

“TRUMP: Americans Who Died in War Are ‘Losers’ and ‘Suckers,’” Jeffrey Goldberg’s devastating piece in The Atlantic, dropped five days ago, and shows no signs of slowing down. While Donald John Trump has always slagged the military, particularly the late John McCain, the idea that he would apply those insulting words to our war dead has elicited a response few stories about him have managed to do: shock. How would anyone, much less the Commander-in-Chief of our Armed Forces, walk through a military graveyard, at the solemn centenary of a world war, and think, “What a bunch of saps!”

Maybe the money laundering is too abstract. Maybe the mob ties are too easy to laugh off. Maybe the sexual assault allegations are tempered by the patriarchal media and the rape culture. Maybe the abject subservience to Putin is too well concealed to cause a stir. Not this. This is something everyone understands. This is the President of the United States expressing his staunch belief that our friends and family members who served in the two World Wars, in Korea, in Vietnam, in Iraq and Afghanistan, were suckers for enlisting, and losers for dying in action.

Useful idiot Chris Cillizza of CNN—whose staunch commitment to normalizing Trump is exceeded only by his irrepressible hard-on for Ivanka—last week published one of the most egregious examples of both-sidesing since the dark days of John Peter Zenger. “So, we’re left with this dilemma,” he wrote. “Goldberg insists the story is true. Trump insists the story is false. Both of those views can’t be right.”

There is no “dilemma” here, as Cillizza must know. Trump insists the story is false for the simple reason that, with his tiny hand stuck in the proverbial cookie jar, he has no other alternative. As Roy Cohn and Roger Stone taught him, “Attack, attack, attack!” That’s the only defensive tactic he knows—but with the “suckers and losers” story, it doesn’t work.

Here are 13 reasons why we know The Atlantic story is true:

1/ The piece was written by Jeffrey Goldberg, the editor-in-chief of that venerable periodical—not a freelancer, not an independent writer like me, not Anonymous, and not in the Daily Mail or on some random blog. The Atlantic is one of the oldest, most prestigious magazines running, and the story was surely fine-tooth-combed by copy editors, proofreaders, and the corporate legal team. It’s not the Democratic equivalent of Jacob Wohl claiming Liz Warren had a young Marine sidepiece, or some deranged QAnon fantasy.

2/ In the piece, Goldberg says four sources confirmed the “suckers and losers” part of the story. Four. Other parts of the story cite three sources. One anonymous source he quotes is “a retired four-star general.” That’s about as solid as sourcing gets.

3/ John Kelly, a key figure in the story, has yet to publicly address the claims. In the story, it says he “declined to comment,” which means that he was asked about the incident involving Trump saying, “I don’t get it. What was in it for them?” while standing over the grave of Kelly’s son Robert, who died in Afghanistan. If the piece were materially wrong, Kelly had plenty of opportunity to say so. While we would welcome him speaking on the record, his silence is a tacit confirmation.

4/ The details were confirmed by the New York Times, the Washington Post, AP, and Fox News. As I wrote on Twitter, if the AP says it’s true, take it to the bank.

5/ Trump’s reaction was to deny the story completely and to punch back at Jennifer Griffin, who confirmed the story for Fox News, and Laurene Powell, the billionaire widow of Steve Jobs, who owns The Atlantic.

All Trump knows how to do is attack, and—would you believe it?—the people he feels most comfortable attacking are women. Either way, “shoot the messenger” is an ineffective strategy.

6/ Trump and his enablers are attacking the story for relying on anonymous sources, hoping that Americans are ignorant enough to not understand how journalism works (or, for that matter, how legit news outfits have a firewall between the publishing side and the editorial side of the operation). The sources are known to Goldberg—and to the other reporters, and, as Griffin said, to Trump himself.

Anonymous sourcing is essential to journalism, especially in matters like this, where putting your name to a quote would result in the President of the United States instructing his cult followers to harass you, as Trump did with Powell, or worse.

7/ Trump has made countless disparaging remarks about the military in the last four years, most famously regarding the late John McCain, whom he holds in contempt. Jen Kirkman compiled three dozen or so examples in this remarkable thread:

So the idea that “nobody respects the military more than Trump,” his predictable declaration, is laughable.

8/ While a gaggle of mendacious White House sycophants current and former have leapt to his defense, including the hateful ex-Propaganda Mistress Sarah Huckabee Sanders…

…most of the broader GOP has not. This indicates they know the story is both true and political dynamite.

Seriously, though. This—essentially a retweet of a very effective Joe Biden ad—is the best his defenders can do:

Unless you count Jim Jordan, who abetted a serial sexual predator at Ohio State, tweeting out a flaccid “FAKE NEWS.”

9/ “They’re saps. They risked their lives for strangers.” So says Sonny Corleone about servicemen in Godfather II:

Trump shares the mobster worldview, because that is the world he was raised in, and remains the only world he knows.

10/ Donald Trump, Jr. did not come upon this insight on his own:

In Triggered, the president's oldest son wrote that, when the first family visited the cemetery to watch his father lay a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknowns, it made him think of all the business “sacrifices” they had to make in their dad’s quest to become president. He wrote that he “rarely get[s] emotional, if ever,” but seeing the graves made him feel the “importance of the presidency and a love of our country.” He added: “In that moment, I also thought of all the attacks we’d already suffered as a family, and about all the sacrifices we’d have to make to help my father succeed—voluntarily giving up a huge chunk of our business and all international deals to avoid the appearance that we were ‘profiting off the office.’” 

Junior was taught by his old man to be a selfish, lying prick, and to view the world as a zero-sum game, in which there are clear winners and clear losers in all situations.

11/ “You know, if you’re young, and in this era, and if you have any guilt about not having gone to Vietnam, we have our own Vietnam—it’s called the dating game,” Trump told Howard Stern in a 1993 interview. “Dating is like being in Vietnam. You’re the equivalent of a soldier going over to Vietnam.”

“It’s amazing, I can’t even believe it. I’ve been so lucky in terms of that whole world, it is a dangerous world out there. It’s like Vietnam, sort of. It is my personal Vietnam. I feel like a great and very brave solider,” Trump said in the interview when Howard Stern asked how he handled making sure he wasn’t contracting STDs from the women he was sleeping with.

The business-mogul-turned-politician elaborated on the fact in the interview, calling women’s vaginas “potential landmines” and saying “there’s some real danger there.”

But sure, tell me again how much President Valtrex respects the military. I’m sure those phantom bone spurs were unbearable.

12/ Losers is one of the two thousand or so words in Trump’s paltry vocabulary, and he uses it all the time. He also lies all the time. Every time he opens his yap, pretty much. So: This is not the boy crying wolf and this time there’s a wolf at his heels. This is the boy crying wolf, and yet again, there’s no wolf, because there’s never a fucking wolf.

Do you believe him in this clip? And if so, would you have any interest in purchasing this tremendous bridge I’m selling?

13/ It is completely in Trump’s character to say these things, and to entertain these thoughts. If Goldberg’s story were about, say, Jimmy Carter, we would be much less inclined to believe it, because we would rightly doubt that Carter would ever speak that way about our servicemen and -women. But with Trump? I mean, this is who he is, and who he’s always been: a selfish coward, devoid of empathy and human decency, unable to even conceive of sacrifice for the greater good.

Of course the story is true. The only “suckers” are the people who believe Trump.

Photo credit: Paweł Kula, Sejm RP. US President Donald Trump in Poland. Warsaw Uprising Monument 1944. 6 July 2017.