San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, who has been vocal about President Trump’s behavior, lashed out Monday, calling him a “soulless coward” for lying about former presidents not calling families of fallen soldiers. Trump, while defending his slow response to the deaths of four U.S. soldiers in Niger earlier this month, said that most of the presidents who came before him never called the families of service members killed in action. “If you look at President Obama, and other presidents, most of them didn’t make calls. A lot of them didn’t make calls,” Trump said Monday. “I like to call when it’s appropriate, when I think I am able to do it.” Popovich on Monday told Dave Zirin, sports editor at “The Nation,” that Trump was a “soulless coward” and wanted to make sure the comments were “on the record.”
This isn’t the first time Gregg Popovich has chosen to exercise his 1st Amendment rights by publicly lambasting the President. I’ve written about it previously, and Coach Pop’s riff is consistent with what he’s said before. Nothing surprising, to be certain, but it’s refreshing to hear a public figure, especially one as erudite as Popovich, speaks his mind honestly.
When I first heard the reports of the President’s claim that “most of them didn’t make calls. A lot of them didn’t make calls,” my first reaction was that we’ve entered a new and more sinister realm of willful dishonesty. This President will say whatever comes to mind if he thinks it helps his cause. It doesn’t seem to matter whether what he’s saying is true or not, only that he believes it as the words exit his mouth. Just when I begin to think he couldn’t POSSIBLY become more pathetic, I’m reminded he still has 39 months remaining in his term. He’s just getting warmed up.
“I’ve been amazed and disappointed by so much of what this President had said, and his approach to running this country, which seems to be one of just a never ending divisiveness. But his comments today about those who have lost loved ones in times of war and his lies that previous presidents Obama and Bush never contacted their families, is so beyond the pale, I almost don’t have the words.
“This man in the Oval Office is a soulless coward who thinks that he can only become large by belittling others. This has of course been a common practice of his, but to do it in this manner–and to lie about how previous Presidents responded to the deaths of soldiers–is as low as it gets. We have a pathological liar in the White House: unfit intellectually, emotionally, and psychologically to hold this office and the whole world knows it, especially those around him every day. The people who work with this President should be ashamed because they know it better than anyone just how unfit he is, and yet they choose to do nothing about it. This is their shame most of all.”
The response across the media has rightfully been loud and indignant. Many know full well how dishonest the President’s claims are- because they’ve reported on how previous Presidents have been in touch with the families of fallen servicemembers. Journalists- at least good ones- endeavor to be objective, but they’re people- proud Americans who know bullshit when they hear it.
A panel discussion on MSNBC was typical of how not-Fox-News-Channel journalists reacted. Former George H.W. Bush Communications Director Nicolle Wallace gave no quarter, stating “7-year-olds have more humanity” than this President.
I admire Popovich for being one of the few in the sports world willing to go on record with his disgust. Like any other American, he sees what’s happening, but unlike most in the sports world, he’s capable of saying what’s on his mind. Popovich isn’t a political partisan, but he loves his country and is willing to stand up for what he thinks is right.
So far the Far Right appears to be sitting this one out, perhaps because they recognize that what the President said is as willfully dishonest as it is indefensible.
Alyssa Mastromonaco, who served as a deputy chief of staff under former President Barack Obama, angrily responded to Trump’s declaration during a press conference that “if you look at President Obama and other presidents, most of them didn’t make calls” to the families of soldiers who died in combat.
“That’s a f*cking lie,” she said. “To say President Obama (or past presidents) didn’t call the family members of soldiers KIA – he’s a deranged animal.”
A quick search of news archives reveals multiple times Obama met with military family members in which he offered thanks and condolences for their sacrifice.
It would take about 30 seconds for someone with a laptop to find examples of ways in which previous Presidents had met with and/or contacted families of those killed while serving their country. George W. Bush met with more than 450 families and wrote to more than 4000. Barack Obama met with families at Dover Air Force Base in addition to writing letters and making phone calls. He also reversed a policy in 2011 and began writing letters to the families of servicemembers who committed suicide while deployed to a war zone.
Stop the damn lying – you’re the President. I went to Dover AFB with 44 and saw him comfort the families of both the fallen military & DEA. pic.twitter.com/HhE4KbTBkJ
— Eric Holder (@EricHolder) October 17, 2017
Just when I begin thinking there’s no way this President could sink any lower, I learn to my chagrin that he lives in a barrel with no bottom. The description of him as “a deranged animal” might in normal circumstances seem overly emotional. In the case of this President, it’s an insult to deranged animals.
Perhaps if more prominent Americans could, like Gregg Popovich, see their way clear to speaking the truth, we could begin putting pressure on Congress to impeach a despot who’s proven himself unfit for the office he holds. He defiles the Presidency each and every day, yet Republicans have shown no inclination to do the right thing.
Those who work with and for the President, along with Congressional Republicans, should be ashamed for enabling a Chief Executive so manifestly unfit and unqualified to hold office.
Nice work, America.