By State Representative, Leon D. Young
Donald Trump has a rare infinity for putting his foot in his mouth and fanning the flames of controversy. Last week was just another example of this very unfortunate fact. In a bungled attempt to convey condolences to the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, Trump did what he does best – made the situation worst.
Nineteen days after her husband, U.S. Army Sgt. La David Johnson, was killed in action in West Africa, Myeshia Johnson spoke out on “Good Morning America” last Monday about the death of her husband and the controversial phone call she received from Donald Trump. According to the Gold Star widow, the call made her “very upset and hurt; it made me cry even worse.”
Moreover, the president told her in that same call last week her husband “‘knew what he signed up for’”, she said, “but it hurts anyways. And it made me cry cause I was very angry at the tone of his voice and how he said he couldn’t remember my husband’s name. “If my husband is out there fighting for our country and he risked his life for our country, why can’t you remember his name?” She asked. I just listened.”
President Trump’s condolence call to Myeshia Johnson sparked outrage when Democratic Rep. Frederica Wilson, a family friend, accused President Trump of making an insensitive remark. Wilson, who was present for the speaker phone conversation, recalled that Trump said, “he knew what he signed up for, but I guess it still hurts anyway.”
Naturally, Trump took to his customary communication medium, Tweeter, to refute the widow’s conversation claim. And tweets, “I had a very respectful conversation with the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, and spoke his name from beginning, without hesitation!” Trump then proceeded to lash out at Rep. Frederica S. Wilson (D-Fla.), disputing her account of what he said in the phone call, and has continued his derogatory tweets about this Black lawmaker referring to her as the “wacky” Florida congresswoman.
In an effort to stem the mounting criticism of Trump in the aftermath of the botched condolence call, White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly was dispatched to clean up the mess. But, General Kelly only made the situation worse. He accused the congresswoman of being dishonest, lied about how she was instrumental in getting the funding for a FBI building built in her district and has referred to her as an “empty barrel.”
The president — who often highlights his love and respect for the military — waited 12 days before he publicly acknowledged the tragedy, in which four U.S. Special Forces soldiers were gunned down at the border of Niger and Mali. This is the deadliest combat incident to occur since Trump took office.
Getting into a national spat with a widow of a fallen soldier, during her time of bereavement, and the being unwillingly to apologize for his curt remark speaks volumes about Donald Trump. Based on his brass and unpredictable behavior, Trump’s new moniker should be “The Insulter-in-Chief.”