Monday, October 3, 2016

In (sort of) defense of Donald Trump's comments about vets and suicide

This Donald Trump comment is making a lot of people mad today — the insinuation that vets who commit suicide are "weak."

"When people come back from war and combat and they see things that maybe a lot of the folks in this room have seen many times over and you're strong and you can handle it, but a lot of people can't handle it," Trump said, speaking Monday morning at a panel for the Retired American Warriors PAC in Virginia.
Sounds pretty bad, right? Well, ABC at least includes the rest of the quote — which is omitted from a lot of media accounts.
"We need mental health and medical, and it's one of the things that is least addressed and one of the things — one of the things that I hear most about when I go around and talk to the veterans," he said. "So we are going to have a very robust, very, very robust level of performance having to do with mental health."
Now: I'm not one to defend Donald Trump.

But in this case he's not dismissing a rival politician, a la his comments about John McCain's captivity. He's not insulting parents who took a stand against him at a rival party's convention.

By God, I think ... he's trying to be sympathetic. He's trying to be sensitive, in his clumsy ham-fisted way. He's trying to provide a policy answer to help veterans who need it!

Now. If you want to criticize him for a worldview that separates everybody into winners and losers, strong and weak, I get it. And if you want to get after him for having an understanding of PTSD that, I'm willing to bet, comes from action movies and old episodes of "24" instead of any firsthand encounters with soldiers, be my guest. (At one point, he references how the experiences of such vets are worse than what you'd ever see in movies.)

But I don't think Trump was trying to bash suicidal vets here. I think he was trying to offer help. There are plenty of reasons to think he's an awful person. This isn't quite the reason everybody seems to think it is. 

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