We’ve been told for years now that the military loves the current president. Well, if the latest poll from The Military Times is any indicator, it appears that narrative might be a pipe dream, at least as it pertains to active-duty members.
Based on results from 1,018 active-duty troops surveyed in late July and early August, nearly half (49.9 percent) had an unfavorable view of the current president, compared to about 38 percent who had a favorable opinion. Even more disheartening for the White House’s current occupant, a whopping 42 percent said they “strongly” disapprove.
And when asked who they would vote for in the 2020 election, Joe Biden had a slight lead – 41.3 percent to 37.4 percent. That’s right, Joe Biden, a Democrat, leads an incumbent Republican president in a poll roughly two months before one of the most critical elections in our nation’s history. You’re probably right to assume that alarm bells are going off in the West Wing.
Because folks, not only has the current president touted his ‘strong’ approval from the military, but the Republican Party as a whole has always puffed out their chest as being the party of choice for service-members – consistently a significant and robust historical base of support.
In previous years, the party’s assessment of such a strong base of support has played out. In 2012, a non-scientific poll had Mitt Romney favored over Barack Obama by a 2.5 – to -1 margin. In 2016, an October poll showed Donald Trump with a 2-to-1 margin over Hillary Clinton, although roughly a third said they would vote for a third-party candidate.
To be clear, the Times notes that the survey is not a perfect snapshot of public opinion within the entire military force. For example, more than 59 percent of officers said they have a poor view of the current president, while 47 percent of enlisted members said so. And it’s also more than probable that if you include retired members, those numbers might look a bit better for him.
But these numbers are troubling nonetheless. We know how the current president loves to talk the talk – that he’s been fabulous for the military, loves them, and is taking care of them better than any other president in history. Many of us out here in the real world know that’s a bunch of bloviating hyperbole.
So what’s the deal? Why is this particular president so unpopular with active members of the military?
Yesterday, Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post wrote the following in an op-ed piece explaining why the military may have soured on him.
There are plenty of reasons that military and ex-military might dislike Trump, who famously got five deferments to get out of serving in Vietnam. Trump failed to confront Russian President Vladimir Putin on bounties put on the heads of U.S. troops. He has smeared the intelligence community, betrayed national security by extorting Ukraine, used the military as props for border security, attacked our NATO alliance, groveled before Putin, abandoned the Kurds when bugging out of Syria, pulled troops out of Germany and attacked voting by mail – a principal way in which troops overseas vote. He commuted the sentences of convicted war criminals, an insult to every military man or woman who upholds his or her oath. He smeared and removed Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman from his White House post after testifying truthfully about Trump’s call with Ukraine’s president. He skipped a commemoration ceremony for those killed in WW1 because it was raining. He used the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark A. Milley, to try to legitimize his gassing of peaceful protesters.
You get the idea. Like the rest of America, many service-members, active and non-active, are sick and tired of this presidency. The idea that Donald J. Trump loves the military is a joke. He thought nothing of dissing the late Senator John McCain, saying he likes people who “didn’t get captured.” He similarly went after gold-star Pakistani-American parents Khizr and Ghazala Khan, who lost their son in combat in 2004. There are countless other examples.
Maybe it’s all finally catching up to the so-called commander-in-chief. Perhaps the folks who risk their lives for the country have had enough. The overall military indeed skews conservative. It’s been that way for years. But that doesn’t mean they’re blind to reality. They see what goes on every day in America – on our streets and in our homes. We all know about the chaos and incompetence. Indeed, those in the military do as well.
And when you look at what the current president has actually done for and to the military – not what he brags and boasts about – it’s hard not to think that the man doesn’t give a rat’s ass about our men and women in uniform – unless he can use them for his own personal and political benefit.
The Military Times poll is, of course, a snapshot in time. There are still two months to go until the election, so those numbers could quickly turn the other way for the current president. But make no mistake, he can’t be happy about it, nor can anyone working on his campaign.
Time is running short for the current president. He’s down in the national polls overall, and now we have the recent Military Times poll saying the same thing. What could he possibly do in the final two months to tip the scales in his direction?
When a tyrant has his back against the wall, he’s capable of anything.