In Defense of Donald Trump
I know- what a strange title for an article from me. But there is an explanation.
Let me be clear about my opinion of Donald Trump. The man is not only the worst President in United States history but also heads up the most corrupt administration in our history, which is saying quite a bit. He is also a liar, a tax cheat, a serial abuser of women, and a business person with decades of history of cheating almost everyone he has done business with. He is a disgrace not only to the office he holds, but to humanity.
But… Tuesday the news broke that a friendly podiatrist had diagnosed him with bone spurs in the 1960’s, which kept him out of the draft and well away from the Viet Nam war. The physician had evidently done this as a favor to Donald Trump’s father, who also happened to be his landlord. And so another scandal begins to play out.
And that is where I have to squeak a bit of reality. It is hard for people to grasp today just how unpopular the Viet Nam war was with many Americans. Those who did serve came home to shameful treatment. They were unfortunately abuse targets that were accessible, whereas what people really objected to was a long pattern of exaggeration and outright deceit carried out by top military brass and the U.S. government. The reputation of the military was so different from what it is today.
This was the time of the awakening sexual revolution, civil rights upheavals, rock and roll, and greater availability of “recreational drugs.” A war in a far away place that seemed to offer no threat to us had little chance of gaining favor with people occupied with other pursuits, whether ill or good.
There were all sorts of ways to try and evade the draft, and some people, like Donald Trump, squeaked through by the intervention of a physician.
So did I. It is likely Donald Trump never questioned the doctor’s decision, and he may have been ignorant enough to believe it. In any case, there was little cause for him to dispute it. Same for me.
I spent a few days in the hospital in December of my senior year of high school after walking home across a frozen lake after several hours of hockey, my clothes soaked with sweat. I got seriously ill, and the hospital determined that I had an inflamed pericardium (the outer lining of the heart), possible pneumonia, and other ills. They finally called it rheumatic fever and sent me home for two weeks of enforced bed rest.
In college I needed a physical as part of the draft process. Doctors at the University of Minnesota told the Army that I had a heart murmur, and that got me a medical deferment that lasted all the way to my senior year. At that time the Army called for a second opinion, and the 2nd doctor scoffed and declared that I had a slightly unusual heartbeat, but not a heart murmur, and that there was no reason not to declare me perfectly fit for duty. True, that doctor’s time was paid for by the Army, but it did not really surprise me, as I had always thought the heart murmur story sounded a bit off.
What had happened? The two doctors who had seen me at the University of Minnesota were both women, which was unusual at that time. They had been to medical school with the man who had been my family doctor my whole life. They revered him because in medical school he had treated them as actual people and fellow medical students, not the “female freaks” that most others did. So, they exaggerated my condition as mark of respect and as favor to him!
Do I feel guilty? To an extent, yes. I have been to the Viet Nam Memorial in Washington D.C. and wept as I ran my fingers over the names of high school classmates. Some were friends, and some not. I remember one who had disgusted me by getting caught cheating on a test in our Advanced Math class. Now he was dead, and I was not. So were all the others. I have never watched any of the movies spawned by the Viet Nam war as a very small token of respect for those lost.
I had housemates in college who were drafted. Most came from rural communities. If you were from a well to do suburb that valued a college education (like me) you were far more likely to be granted a deferment. None of this was fair. Women did not need to register and none was drafted. So flawed a system. None of it was right. These issues comprised a small corner of the tower of animosity toward the war at the time.
Although I had little involvement in the civil rights movement, and none at all with the sexual and drug revolutions, I still benefited from the prevailing sentiments of the time, as did thousands and thousands of others.
Later, after I had graduated and moved to Kirkland, Washington to begin my teaching career, I was declared 1A (prime meat). I had just broken my shoulder while destroying my first motorcycle. The school district appealed, using the argument that I was the only person the school district could find that could teach English and coach tennis. This went absolutely nowhere with a draft board in Minnesota, and the appeal was denied. The next month Richard Nixon held the first draft lottery, my birthday came up #334, and it was over.
It is interesting that the story of Donald Trump’s fake bone spurs broke yesterday, and there was no mention of it in the newspaper today. Perhaps the editors, who are older, remember how many people evaded the war in any way that came along.
In any case, I can’t castigate Donald Trump for this one. That leaves only several hundred other reasons why he should be removed from office.
Copyright 2018 David Preston