Perhaps it’s because I know a lot of soldiers that I don’t find this particularly worthy of outrage:
US President Donald Trump has said a lawmaker’s claim he made a soldier’s widow cry is “totally fabricated”.
Congresswoman Frederica Wilson said she was shocked by the president’s comments to the bereaved wife of a fallen soldier.
The Democratic lawmaker claimed he told the widow: “He knew what he was signing up for, but I guess it hurts anyway.”
Ms Wilson told WPLG, a Miami TV station, she heard the president’s “so insensitive” remarks to the widow on speakerphone in a limousine.
Naturally, everyone is falling overt themselves to condemn Trump for a single sentence in a conversation being relayed to us secondhand by a politician of the opposition party who overheard it. The BBC, as usual, is gleefully running it as their headline story.
Context is important, and so is nuance. The way the media is presenting it, Trump rang up the widow, said those words, and hung up. But acknowledging that the young man knew the risks, said in the right way, could be comforting. For example:
I know you can’t see it this way now, but he died doing what he loved, serving his country. You should feel immensely proud of your boy, putting himself in harm’s way to secure the freedoms of others. He knew what he was signing up for, but I guess it hurts anyway.
It’s a bit clumsy, but then this is Trump (and Obama wasn’t much better once you took away his teleprompter). Unless and until we know the full transcript and the tone in which the words were delivered, this outrage is simply fake news.
Ms Wilson told the Washington Post that the widow, Myeshia Johnson, who is expecting the couple’s third child, broke down in tears after the conversation.
“He made her cry,” Ms Wilson said.
The world’s combined media seem unable to entertain the possibility that she would cry after talking about her recently deceased son regardless.
“Yeah, he [President Trump] said that,” Ms Wilson said. “To me, that is something that you can say in a conversation, but you shouldn’t say that to a grieving widow.
But turning the whole thing into a media circus is just fine, presumably.
“And everyone knows when you go to war, you could possibly not come back alive. But you don’t remind a grieving widow of that.”
Well, actually you might. It is probably of some comfort to a widow that her late husband died as a volunteer who knew the risks rather than some poor sod drafted in against his will.
The full context of the conversation is not known. Ms Wilson said that when she had asked Ms Johnson about the exchange, she said she could not remember.
It sounds as though Ms Wilson has more of a problem with what Trump said to Ms Johnson than Ms Johnson does. Has anyone got her opinion, or does she just wish the media circus would leave her alone to grieve in peace?
The alleged remarks sparked angry comments on social media, with Ms Wilson saying on Twitter that Mr Trump did “not possess the character, empathy or grace to be president of the United States”.
Perhaps sensibly, the US chooses presidents on voter preference and doesn’t disqualify them on the basis of a psychological assessment made by an opposition politician after eavesdropping on a phone call.
This is not the first time Mr Trump has found himself in an imbroglio over US veterans.
He also engaged in a racially charged feud with the parents of decorated army captain Humayun Khan, who was killed in Iraq in 2004.
A feud that was kicked off when Khan’s parents were wheeled on stage during the Democratic National Convention and his father promptly attacked Donald Trump. Strangely, the BBC left out that part.