Trump mansplains to the vets

A clusterfuck we didn’t hear about at the time:

Early on in the Donald Trump administration, the president vested many of his nearest and dearest with tasks they were woefully unprepared for—and Apprentice superstar Omarosa Manigault-Newman was no exception.

Long before she was his chief antagonist, Manigault-Newman was tapped by President Trump to handle veterans’ issues for the White House—causing immediate backlash from vets organizations who read this as a slap in the face and a betrayal of his campaign rhetoric about “taking care of our veterans.”

What, just because she had no relevant experience or expertise and was appointed as an act of grotesque frivolity by her reality TV buddy? Picky picky picky.

So they all had a meeting in March 2017.

The event nearly degenerated into a uniquely Trumpian trainwreck.

During this White House meeting, certain details of which have not been previously reported, the president managed to again annoy and confuse U.S. war veterans, this time by getting into a bizarre, protracted argument with Vietnam War vets present about the movie Apocalypse Now and the herbicide Agent Orange.

“It was really fucking weird,” one attendee bluntly assessed to The Daily Beast.

Well, he’s a fucking weird guy.

So they were all at the big table, right? And Trump goes around the table calling on people.

Soon, he got to Rick Weidman, co-founder of Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA), who was one of Vietnam vets in the room that day, having served a tour of duty in 1969 as a medic. (Trump famously avoided military service in that disastrous war, ostensibly due to “bone spurs,” and had once said that his prolific sex life was his own “personal Vietnam.”)

During the course of the meeting, Weidman brought up the issue of Agent Orange, an extremely notorious component of the U.S. herbicidal warfare on Vietnam. Weidman was imploring the president and his team to permit access to benefits for a broader number of vets who have said they were poisoned by Agent Orange.

Trump responded by saying, “That’s taken care of,” according to people in the room.

His reply puzzled the group.

Attendees began explaining to the president that the VA had not made enough progress on the issue at all, to which Trump responded by abruptly derailing the meeting and asking the attendees if Agent Orange was “that stuff from that movie.”

He did not initially name the film he was referencing, but it quickly became clear as Trump kept rambling that he was referring to the classic 1979 Francis Ford Coppola epic Apocalypse Now, and specifically the famous helicopter attack scene set to the “Ride of the Valkyries.

Source present at the time tell The Daily Beast that multiple people—including Vietnam War veterans—chimed in to inform the president that the Apocalypse Now set piece he was talking about showcased the U.S. military using napalm, not Agent Orange.

Trump refused to accept that he was mistaken and proceeded to say things like, “no, I think it’s that stuff from that movie.”

Yes, that’s a good look, a guy who never went to Vietnam correcting a bunch of vets who did go to Vietnam on the content of a famous movie about the war in Vietnam. Who is more likely to have paid close attention and remembered it in detail, a vet who was in the war or a real estate speculator who was not? Next Trump should summon some astronauts and explain Apollo 13 to them.

He then went around the room polling attendees about if it was, in fact, napalm or Agent Orange in the famous scene from “that movie,” as the gathering—organized to focus on important, sometimes life-or-death issues for veterans—descended into a pointless debate over Apocalypse Now that the president simply would not concede, despite all the available evidence.

And the fact that he was the least likely to know person in the room.

Finally, Trump made eye contact again with Weidman and asked him if it was napalm or Agent Orange. The VVA co-founder assured Trump, as did several before him, that it was in fact napalm, and said that he didn’t like the Coppola film and believed it to be a disservice to Vietnam War veterans.

According to two people in attendance, Trump then flippantly replied to the Vietnam vet, “Well, I think you just didn’t like the movie,” before finally moving on.

The debate over Apocalypse Now in the Roosevelt Room lasted at least two minutes, according to estimates from those who endured it. The president was not able to call on everyone at the roundtable by the end of the event, in part due to these types of tangents.

Today he’s back at his golf club. Before leaving he told reporters it was going to be work, all work.

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