STOP, Mr President.
For God’s sake, STOP.
My heart sank when I saw Donald Trump’s tweet in response to grieving war widow Myeshia Johnson’s emotional interview on Good Morning America.
Of all the times for him to keep those incendiary, confrontational tweeting fingers away from his phone, this was one of the most important.
I feared the worst after hearing Mrs Johnson explain how upset and angry she had been at the tone of Trump’s condolence call about her husband LaDavid’s death during an ambush of US troops in Niger.
My heart sank when I saw this tweet from Donald Trump this morning. Of all the times he should have stayed off Twitter – this was one of the most important
She was incensed that Trump apparently said LaDavid ‘knew what he signed up for, but it still hurts’.
She accused the President of forgetting her husband’s name, only remembering it when he looked down at the report in front of him.
She raged at not being able to see LaDavid’s dead body, and at not getting any proper answers as to how and why he died.
Finally, when asked if she had anything to say to Trump, she just shook her head dismissively and said ‘No.’
It was a powerful, incredibly moving interview.
This is clearly a woman utterly grief-stricken by the sudden loss of the love of her life and the devoted father of their two young kids.
My heart breaks for her and her family.
It would take a heart of ice-cold stone not to.
She gave an incredibly moving interview this morning. When asked if she had anything to say to Trump, she just shook her head and said ‘No.’ This is clearly a woman utterly grief-stricken by the sudden loss of the love of her life and the devoted father of their two young kids
I don’t think, as many seem to, that Donald Trump is heartless.
It must be obvious even to his most ardent critics that he had no intention of upsetting this poor woman when he made that call.
I genuinely believe Trump simply wanted to offer her his very sincere sympathy and pay proper tribute to LaDavid’s heroism.
But for whatever reason – and I blame most of this unedifying furore on Congresswoman Frederica Wilson making it all public to score cheap political points – his call had the complete opposite effect.
His choice of words, perhaps clumsily phrased, did nothing but compound Mrs Johnson’s misery.
There can be few more difficult things for any President to do than make this sort of call.
But the reality is that Mrs Johnson found what she heard upsetting.
So what does Donald Trump do?
He reverts to type, that’s what, and does what he always does when someone criticises him – he fires back.
‘I had a very respectful conversation with the widow of Sgt. LaDavia Johnson,’ he tweeted this morning within minutes of her interview airing on ABC, ‘and spoke his name from beginning, without hesitation!’
Really, Mr President?
You think the best way to deal with this is to call a grieving war widow a LIAR?
I genuinely believe that with last week’s call Trump wanted to offer sincere sympathy and pay proper tribute to LaDavid’s heroism. But for whatever reason, his call had the opposite effect. And then after her GMA interview, he reverted to type called her, a WAR widow, a liar
I read the tweet and groaned aloud.
It reminded me of when Trump needlessly went after Khizr Khan, another grieving Gold Star family member, and an incredibly impressive man, during the election campaign last year.
It just makes him look incredibly small, insensitive and petty.
But rather than learn his lesson, Trump has piled in again, this time with a woman whose husband was killed just three weeks ago fighting for his country.
Mr President, your critics say you have no compassion or empathy.
I’ve known you a long time and don’t believe that to be true.
But I also know that if people challenge you, you always have a pop back at them.
The problem here is that when you pick a fight with a grieving war widow, you are picking a fight you cannot possibly win.
And it suggests you don’t have any real understanding of the appalling grief she is currently enduring.
Put yourself into Myeisha Johnson’s shoes for one moment.
Imagine what it would be like to have someone knock on your door and tell you that your military spouse is missing in action?
Then imagine, two days later, another knock on the door to tell you that your spouse is dead, killed in action?
Every hope, every dream, every plan that you had for your family just died in that moment too.
Myeisha Johnson is currently going through a hell that few of us, thankfully, ever have to go through.
Put yourself into Myeisha Johnson’s shoes. Imagine your spouse is killed, and every hope, every dream, every plan that you had for your family just died too. Myeisha Johnson is currently going through a hell that few of us, thankfully, ever have to go through
For you to now have a public argument with her, and effectively call her a liar, is to simply pour barrels of gasoline over the flames of despair engulfing her body and soul right now.
I don’t know exactly what happened in that phone call.
But I do know this: Myeisha Johnson took your words in a way you never intended and was hurt by them. So hurt that she burst into tears.
This, remember, happened just minutes before she was due to meet her husband’s coffin off a military plane, so her emotions would have already been running indescribably high.
Rather than arguing with her, why not take a step back from all this and see the bigger picture of the world’s most powerful man now waging an unseemly squabble with a grieving war widow?
Instead, why don’t you swallow your pride, pick the phone up in the Oval Office today, and call Mrs Johnson again.
Not to be more ‘presidential’ but because it’s the right thing for any human being in this situation to do.
Look at the big picture. Pick up the phone and make the call. Swallow your pride because it’s the right thing to do. Tell that poor grieving widow how her husband LaDavid was a great hero to whom we owe a debt of gratitude that can never be repaid. And apologize
If she takes the call, then say this:
‘Mrs Johnson, this is Donald Trump, your President.
I am so terribly sorry that my words of condolence to you last week upset you so much. I can assure you that I never intended to cause you any more hurt and pain and but it is clear to me that I did, so please accept my very sincere apologies. Your husband LaDavid was a great hero, a man who died while serving his country with extraordinary courage. We owe men like LaDavid a debt of such gratitude than we can never possibly hope to repay it. He was a man of honour, integrity, valor and duty. He represents the very best of America.
‘I know that you are desperate to know exactly what happened to him and why, and I promise you now that I will do everything in my power to get you those answers as soon as possible.
‘In the meantime, if there is anything that I can do for you or your family, please let me know. I would also like to invite you and your children to the White House at a time convenient to you so that I can tell you in person what your husband LaDavid’s heroism means to me and to his country.
‘Once again, Mrs Johnson, I am so sorry for upsetting you. There is nothing more important to me than taking care of our Gold Star families and ensuring that the memories of your loved ones who died serving this country so bravely are properly honoured.’
Mr President – make the call.