A Bad Time to Play He Said/She Said

It’s a sad commentary on our times that something as simple and straightforward as a condolence call can be politicized, but here we are.  Democrat representative Frederica Wilson of Florida’s 24th District, has accused Donald Trump for being insensitive to the widow of Army Sgt. La David Johnson, who was one of four U.S. soldiers killed during a terrorist ambush in Niger on October 4.  According to Wilson, when the president called Myeshia Johnson to offer his sympathies at the loss of her husband, he told her, “He knew what he signed up for, but when it happens, it hurts anyway.”

“Yeah, he said that,” Wilson said. “So insensitive. He should have not have said that. He shouldn’t have said it.”

The president called about 4:45 p.m. and spoke to Johnson’s pregnant widow, Myeshia Johnson, for about five minutes. She is a mother to Johnson’s surviving 2-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter. The conversation happened before Johnson’s remains arrived at Miami International Airport on a commercial Delta Airlines flight.

It wasn’t the first time Wilson had called out Trump for being callous about Johnson’s death.

Wilson criticized Trump for failing to acknowledge Johnson’s death after he was left behind during the evacuation. It took nearly two days to find his body in the Republic of Niger’s desert. Johnson’s body made it to the U.S. on Oct. 7 when Trump was playing golf with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

So it’s pretty obvious that Wilson was already locked and loaded when she met with Johnson’s window as her husband’s remains were returned home for burial.  Claiming that she was with Mrs. Johnson when the call came, Wilson took things even further when later she told CNN that the widow “broke down” upon hearing Trump’s remarks and that the president “didn’t even know” Johnson’s name.

Trump, meanwhile, denied Wilson’s story this morning when he tweeted out:

To which Wilson responded:

I have proof, too.  This man is a sick man.

None of that proof has been forthcoming—but does it really matter?  The president of the United States and a congresswoman are basically playing a game of he said/she said over the body of a fallen American soldier.  Under what circumstances would this ever be appropriate?

Trump, for his part, probably said exactly what Wilson claims—but it’s also highly doubtful that her charactization of his words is accurate.  In his mind, the president probably meant to praise the bravery of Sgt. Johnson who, in spite of knowing all the risks, chose to serve his country in the military.  Wilson, meanwhile, being the partisan Democrat she is, seized an opportunity to make political hay out of the issue, just as she seized on the death of Trayvon Martin years ago.  She chose to cast the president’s choice of words in the worst possible light, because that’s what Democrats do.  Trump should know better than to take that bait—but he did it anyway, like he almost always does.

Myeshia Johnson, meanwhile, is still a widow, and her children will still grow up without their father.  All the bickering won’t change that one damned bit—but seeing her loss played out in the press like this will make it more painful.

Perhaps Congresswoman Wilson and President Trump should keep that in mind before bashing each other again.

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Marc Giller

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