In a new biography of Donald Trump due out later this month, the deal-making presidential candidate says that his attendance at the New York Military Academy gave him “more training militarily than a lot of the guys that go into the military.”
I guess that’s sort of like Obama getting all that foreign policy experience by simply living in Indonesia for a few years.
In truth, Trump hasn’t said or done anything outrageous in recent days so this eyebrow-raising comment on his military service will serve to give his numbers another boost.
Donald J. Trump, who received draft deferments through much of the Vietnam War, told the author of a forthcoming biography that he nevertheless “always felt that I was in the military” because of his education at a military-themed boarding school.
Mr. Trump said that his experience at the New York Military Academy, an expensive prep school where his parents had sent him to correct poor behavior, gave him “more training militarily than a lot of the guys that go into the military.”
That claim may raise eyebrows given that Mr. Trump, now a Republican presidential candidate, never served in the military and mocked Senator John McCain, a decorated naval aviator, for his yearslong captivity during the Vietnam War.
“He’s not a war hero,” Mr. Trump said in July. “He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured.”
Mr. Trump described his education, business life, marriages and childhood in extensive interviews with Michael D’Antonio, a Pulitzer Prize-winning former reporter at Newsday. Mr. D’Antonio’s biography of Mr. Trump, “Never Enough: Donald Trump and the Pursuit of Success,” will be published on Sept. 22.
According to the book, Mr. Trump attended the New York Military Academy after years of rowdy and rebellious behavior at Kew-Forest, a more traditional prep school in Queens. Mr. Trump once recalled giving a teacher at Kew-Forest a black eye “because I didn’t think he knew anything about music.”
He arrived at the military academy — where tuition now reaches $31,000 a year — for eighth grade in 1959 and remained for high school. Like all students at the Cornwall-on-Hudson, N.Y., campus, he wore a uniform, participated in marching drills and was expected to conform to a hierarchy imposed by instructors, some of whom had served in the military.
Despite sitting out Vietnam because of deferments followed by a high draft lottery number of 356 out of 366, Mr. Trump said that he endured the rigors of real military life.
“My number was so incredible and it was a very high draft number. Anyway so I never had to do that, but I felt that I was in the military in the true sense because I dealt with those people,” he told Mr. D’Antonio.
The author seemed taken aback by this claim. Not many of the academy’s alumni “would compare military school with actual military service,” he wrote. “But the assertion was consistent with the self-image Trump often expressed.”
Few presidents — even those who served — were genuine “experts” on the military, so the gap in Trump’s knowledge is not critical, just as the gap in foreign policy knowledge by President Obama wasn’t detrimental to his campaign.
But I find it fascinating that both candidates used a similar means of blunting criticism. Apparently, living overseas or attending a military school allows you to obtain expertise via osmosis. Knowledge kind of soaks in like plant roots sucking in water.
If I were advising Mr. Trump, I would tell him to employ the response he used on Hugh Hewitt’s show regarding his lack of knowledge of the military:“I will be so good at the military, your head will spin.”