When Trump gave the commencement speech at West Point on June 13 – the same date as the Washington Post headline above – the media was more focused on what he did, rather than what he said.
Specifically, Trump’s fumbling and stumbling.
His fumbling as he tried to drink from a glass of water.
His stumbling as he tried to walk down a ramp.
I hadn’t given a thought to what came before, until I read an opinion piece in the New York Times, and the author talked about Trump,
“who forces 1,100 West Point cadets to travel back to campus, and quarantine for two weeks, so he can get a photo op addressing their graduation.”
Wait, I thought.
The West Point cadets had been sent home in March to avoid coronavirus. They wouldn’t have been back on campus to graduate, just like all the other students who, due to the pandemic, missed the chance to walk their graduation walk.
But for the sake of a Trump photo op, 1,100 West Point cadets had to return to their campus?
It appears so.
For many of them, that meant time in an airport, then on a plane, traveling to and from West Point.
Airports. Airplanes. Welcome centers for spreading coronavirus.
Once they arrived on campus, says the above and other articles, the cadets:
“lived in Covid-19 quarantine for the past two weeks, confined to their dorms, wearing masks and watching Zoom conferences on leadership…”
A June 12 New York Times article described the cadets’ living arrangements during their two-week quarantine. After arriving on campus and being tested for coronavirus,
“…the cadets have been divided into four groups of about 250, with strict orders not to mingle outside their cohort. They eat in shifts in the dining hall, with food placed on long tables by kitchen staff who quickly leave.”
And for the ceremony:
“Cadets will be required to wear masks as they march in and take their seats, spaced about six feet apart. Once seated, they will be allowed to unmask.”
No family or friends could attend.
Trump made his usual hyperbolic, self-aggrandizing, vote-for-me remarks, like this one:
“After years of devastating budget cuts and a military that was totally depleted from these endless wars, we have invested over 2 trillion – trillion; that’s with a ‘T’ – dollars in the most powerful fighting force, by far, on the planet Earth. ”
And this self-deprecating remark:
“It is not the duty of U.S. troops to solve ancient conflicts in faraway lands that many people have never heard of.”
I say “self-deprecating” because Trump is referring to himself as the “many people” who have “never heard of” those “faraway lands,” due to his geographic ignorance.
Geographic ignorance – like in February when, according to two Washington Post reporters, Trump said to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, “It’s not like you’ve got China on your border.”
Back at West Point, the cadets were allowed to do their traditional hat toss:
And, hopefully, the cadets – and everyone they come into contact with – will go on with their lives.
Thousands of lives put at risk…
So Trump could have his photo op.
Well, he got it: