His skipping out of the memorial for the American soldiers buried outside Paris on the centenary of World War I’s armistice, his no-show at Arlington Cemetery on Veterans Day, his failure to visit a single American war zone after almost two years in office—all reflect something strangely aloof about this president’s view of his most basic rituals and obligations as the commander in chief of the U.S. armed forces. But what are the roots of this strangeness?
On an everyday level, he regards those who give something of themselves as chumps. Note his pride in evading taxes (“That makes me smart,” he bragged during one of the 2016 debates), his skirting of promises to make charitable donations and even his obligations to pay vendors in his various failed business projects.
But in extraordinary matters, specifically when people give their service and make sacrifices on his orders, as the men and women of the armed forces do routinely, his discomfort intensifies to nausea—he can’t face the connection to death and tragedy.