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David Frum of The Atlantic has argued that the silence of top military officials and former White House officials on President Trump’s describing the war dead as “losers” and those who fought, got captured or wounded as “suckers” speak loudly and it tells everyone the comments were true.

‘Amid the clamor, it’s easy to overlook those who are not yelling, those who are keeping silent. Where are the senior officers of the United States armed forces, serving and retired—the men and women who worked most closely on military affairs with President Trump? Has any one of them stepped forward to say, ‘That’s not the man I know’? How many wounded warriors have stepped forward to attest to Trump’s care and concern for them? How many Gold Star families have stepped forward on Trump’s behalf? How many service families? The silence is resounding. And when such voices do speak, they typically describe a president utterly lacking in empathy to grieving families, wholly uncomprehending of sacrifice and suffering,” Frum wrote on September 8, 2020.

Among those whom he insulted were the dead, Sgt. La David Johnson who died in Niger, Sgt. Dillon Baldridge, who died in Afghanistan, but the father of William “Ryan” Owens, killed in action in Yemen in February 2017, did something unexpected as he refused to shake Trump’s hand and hear the insults. He also disparaged the captain of the COVID-hit USS Theodore Roosevelt, did not admit that 11 soldiers in Iraq were flown to Germany for traumatic brain injuries, saying they only had “headaches,” denigrated the accomplishments of Admiral William McRaven, who commanded the operations that captured Saddam Hussein and killed Osama bin Laden, abused General Stanley McChrystal, a former commander of forces in Afghanistan, maligned Marine General John Allen, another former Afghanistan commander, who later coordinated the fight against ISIS, and slandered Marine General James Mattis, Trump’s own former secretary of defense, as the “world’s most over-rated general.” To cap it all, he tagged his own former chief of staff, Marine General John Kelly of being incompetent and could not handle the job.

“And that’s it. Few former employees of the Trump administration praise him as a boss. Few business partners speak of his honesty. Few tenants of Trump buildings have anything good to say about the homes he supposedly built. Few officials of any city have been willing to celebrate any contribution to urban life. Few beneficiaries of any Trump philanthropy,” Frum concluded.

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