Neither of the two presidential candidates is a veteran; this represents a paradox of American politics. A person who never served their country in uniform and wants to become Commander in Chief often tries to act like a soldier; making statements using #military jargon, posing for photo opportunities with veterans and sometimes wearing portions of a military uniform.
It’s almost a given that a presidential candidate exhibits (alleged) fondness for the military they never showed when they were of military-serving age (21 years old). Not since George Bush Sr. has a president been an active-duty military veteran. George W. Bush joined the National Guard during the Vietnam #war and a large number of congressional leaders today have no experience of military life.
That doesn’t stop politicians from trying to act the part. Donald Trump told conservative television host Bill O’Reilly last week, “I wouldn’t want to share a foxhole with a lot of these people,” indicating #Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan and Sen. John McCain. Trump was angered at the two for withdrawing their support of Trump in the wake of his emerging female grope scandals.
Trump tries to sound gung-ho
Trump’s comment showed his ignorance of military matters. Foxholes, a staple of combat in World War II, are rarely used in deployments by American troops today. Trump earlier derided McCain because he was captured by the North Vietnamese and tortured. Trump said he liked only people who were not captured. McCain was a U.S. pilot and would never have inhabited a foxhole.
Trump avoided the Vietnam War with student deferments and a note from a doctor about a bone spur in his foot. However, he has tried to equate avoiding military service with serving. Attempting to diffuse anger among veterans after publicly arguing with the parents of a soldier killed in Iraq, Trump told ABC interviewer George Stephanopoulos last July his sacrifices made as a businessman were similar to those made by U.S. soldiers. “I’ve made a lot of sacrifices, I worked very hard,” Trump said. “I created thousands of jobs.”
Trump also tried to compare his tenure at a New York military school for mostly well-to-do boys as a form of military service. “I always felt like I was in the military,” Trump said last January. In September during a speech, Trump said: “I’m going to make the military so big so powerful so strong, nobody is going to mess with us.” If Trump is elected look for him to visit soldiers and pose with them for photo ops.
Playing soldier for a day is a tradition for presidents, those who are veterans and those who are not. George W. Bush posed in a U.S. Air Force flight suit as president and later in a suit and tie standing on the deck of a flight carrier with a sign in the background that read “Mission Accomplished,” predicting victory in Iraq in 2003. Instead, the war dragged on for several more years to no conclusion.
Hillary and Bill avoided active military service too
In 1993 then-President Bill Clinton, who also avoided military service, visited the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and called it the “Scariest place on earth.” He appeared in a leather military fatigue jacket on a visit to the USS Independence (aircraft carrier). Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State visited the same spot in the Korean DMZ in 2010 and looked through binoculars into North Korea.
Hillary, however, while she hasn’t talked about sharing foxholes, often refers to her 30 years in public service including her tenure as an elected representative in a manner that seems intended to equal military service.