The so-called “condolence controversy” is spinning out of control, with both sides acting like children. Now that President Donald Trump and Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.) and the blind partisans of both sides have exhausted their wrath, turning this into a national tragedy, let’s move on.
Yes, Trump is a jerk; that was settled ages ago. Yes, Wilson is politicizing the death of someone–Sgt. La David Johnson–who gave his life for his country. Johnson does not deserve to be remembered this way. The back and forth has become masturbatory.
Let’s clarify something about how this all started. The initial complaint by Wilson
about Trump’s condolence call to Johnson’s mother appears to be one phrase that the president used: “[Sgt. Johnson] knew what he signed up for, but I guess it still hurt.” The meaning should be clear: “Sgt. Johnson did a brave thing when he signed up in the military. Soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines all stand a chance of dying for their country, even in peacetime. Despite that, he took the risk and he should be honored.”
Even if Trump said it inelegantly, the meaning should be obvious, even to an out-and-out partisan like Wilson. I served as a casualty assistance call officer during the Vietnam War (but escaped the worst possible in that role) and that phrase and meaning were a regular part of the gawd-awful process of trying to console the family. That Americans have become so separated from what it means to serve their country perhaps is why they have become so blind to the meaning.
For God’s sake, let it be over. That’s the best way to honor Sgt. Johnson.