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ROLLING THE DICE: Do we follow a hero of the Battle of the Boardwalk?

I stopped for coffee days after a drone strike killed Iranian general Soleimani. A man in his mid-60s wearing a Vietnam veteran baseball cap sat in a booth reading the StarNews. “That’s what I’m talking ‘bout; I wish he’d been with us in Vietnam. We’d have nuked them good!”

One young woman “tsked.”

I stood speechless, remembering the Battle of the Boardwalk.

When my coffee-shop veteran earned his cap, the North Vietnamese held Senator John McCain captive and Robert Mueller led Marines on Mutter’s Ridge. Rather than fight beside my coffee-shop friend, Ol’ 45 stayed home and studied the mystical ways of the Boardwalk Warrior.    

Senator John McCain was considered a maverick for not goose-stepping to wars or signing off on torture with the rest of his party, but for decades after Vietnam he followed the script of many prior combatants turned statesmen. Robert Mueller languished in near obscurity, reading and enforcing laws written by others. In Ol’ 45’s book, both are “Losers.”

Winners write their own scripts. In Ol’ 45’s script, he stars as the hero of the Battle of the Boardwalk. After earning his stripes in skirmishes against the Fair Housing Act in Brooklyn, he entered the Battle of the Boardwalk. In the 1980s and ‘90s in Atlantic City, he fearlessly accrued debt, failed to pay contractors and ferociously fought taxes. He courageously allowed a half-built wreck of a casino to rust on the boardwalk until his courtroom enemies in Jersey capitulated. He demonstrated reckless disregard for collateral damage to the livelihood of common men, whole communities and the environment. He unhesitatingly twisted every line of bankruptcy law to ensure “winning.”

My Vietnam veteran friend may admire Ol’ 45’s shock-jock bravado and willingness to roll the dice, but I can’t get past the observation that Ol’ 45 studied foreign policy under cocktail waitresses and forged his current Patton-like persona on the same boardwalk as carnival-barkers and craps dealers. Does Ol’ 45’s military judgement deserve any more trust than a craps dealer?

I looked at my Vietnam veteran friend and envisioned the deeply divided country, disrespect and distrust in leadership he returned to in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Unbelievably, today’s military is serving a more politically divided and less trusting country and government than the Nixon era.

I love that my friends have kids in the 82nd Airborne, in Marine Rapid Response units, on Navy ships, in the Air Force and in the Coast Guard. But it’s dangerous that trust in government has plummeted so much over the half-century since Vietnam. It’s even worse that trust in Ol’ 45 is minimal. Despite George W. Bush’s ineloquence, and my opposition to most of his policies, I trusted he had what he saw as America’s interest at heart.

Most of America supported Bush entering Afghanistan after 9/11. Americans reluctantly supported Cheney invading Iraq in 2003. Even though I opposed Cheney’s plan of world domination, I trusted he had a plan that may have included America’s interest in a tiny sliver of his heart. The only thing I trust about Ol’ 45 is he has been rolling the dice for decades.

 

 

I’m not the only one that has trust issues with Ol’ 45’s leadership. Trust is so minimal he has been impeached. His dwindling supporters still shout that impeachment was a political stunt by a minority of Democrats, yet the pertinent facts are that a majority in Congress impeached him for abusing his power. He got 3 million less votes than his opponent in the 2016 election, and over half of the citizenry considers him untrustworthy and self-serving on most issues.

For the good of the country and safety of our military sons and daughters, I hope Ol’ 45’s most recent roll of the dice pays off. If it doesn’t, do we really believe America will want to pull together to fight a common enemy under his reign? A more heart-wrenching question: Do we really want to sacrifice anyone’s son or daughter in Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, or even Fort Fisher under the hero of the Battle of the Boardwalk?

I picked up my coffee. Although I disagree wholeheartedly with my veteran friend’s support of Ol’ 45, I nodded to him in respect to his sacrifices for our nation: “Thank you for your service.”

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