Those looking for Donald Trump to go off script and deliver a typically inappropriate or outrageous comment today at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point where he gave the commencement address to 1,1o0 graduating cadets from the class of 2020 may have been disappointed today to see the president sticking to his teleprompter throughout the address.
The graduating cadets — who had been called back to the military academy after it had been closed due to the coronavirus pandemic and placed in quarantine for two weeks on campus in order to protect the president from possible transmission while bolstering his ego — responded to the somnambulant address with tepid applause while wearing masks of the sort that Trump himself naturally eschewed.
One can be fairly certain that Trump’s speech was an assemblage of empty platitudes because the only excerpt that many social media users found worthy of highlighting was footage of Trump’s uniquely childish two-handed drinking technique when he paused to take a sip of water.
WHY COULD HE NOT RAISE THE GLASS WITH HIS RIGHT HAND?
— Red, Noble Committee Director (@Redpainter1) June 13, 2020
Trump at West Point, sounding like he swallowed a handful of Valium, unable to lift his left arm for a sip of water, ends his “speech” and only a handful of graduates clap for him.pic.twitter.com/K8TE0TZ6DI
— LiA (@LibsInAmerica) June 13, 2020
Of course, there was the humiliation of the president being greeted by empty silence when the paused for the expected applause after announcing that tomorrow would be his birthday.
Trump telling West Point graduates tomorrow is his birthday. Met by silence….no applause.
Another Trump photo-op has backfired. He was not well received at West Point. pic.twitter.com/bS9tZvEURI
— LiA (@LibsInAmerica) June 13, 2020
The bulk of the reviews from Twitter critics of Trump’s pedestrian polemic of patriotism were predictably savage.
.@MalcolmNance nails Trump’s #WestPoint speech: “Dull as dishwater… a fifth grader’s speech in front of parents… A series of platitudes and places he’s never learned about… Nothing to remember, nothing for service members to take away.” pic.twitter.com/yylCcC9Es4
— flitedocnm (@flitedocnm) June 13, 2020
The graduating West Point cadets had return to campus to be quarantined for two weeks in their barracks, wearing masks and participating in zoom leadership calls, as they waited for Trump to use them as a prop as he struggled to deliver an uninspiring, politically infused speech. https://t.co/J1YMAETBUD
— Alexandra Chalupa (@AlexandraChalup) June 13, 2020
Trump reads simple words from a teleprompter with all the ease and assuredness of a six year bumbling through the list of food additives in a Hot Pocket. #WestPoint
— Brain Turning (@brain_turning) June 13, 2020
President Trump graduation speech at West Point ok. Stuck to his script. Obviously treated with respect as Commander in Chief by the faculty and Cadets. Not important that his remarks were a collection of awkward, badly delivered bromides.
— Barry R McCaffrey (@mccaffreyr3) June 13, 2020
— Blinded By The Bite! (@BlindedBite) June 13, 2020
Maybe a five-time draft dodging traitor who attacks our war heroes; insults Gold Star families; disparages their grieving widows; excoriates and fires Purple Heart recipients; and defends Nazis and the Confederacy shouldn’t be addressing our West Point graduates during a pandemic
— Andrew Wortman (@AmoneyResists) June 13, 2020
Trump delivered a speech off a teleprompter in a boring dull monotone to a muted and polite response from the #westpoint cadets. He didn't stray off topic/deliver dog whistles.Will be deemed an enormous success & the start of his 'reset'. There's an advantage when bar is so low.
— Rob Gill (@robggill) June 13, 2020
Duty, honor doesn't work when one has been impeached… #justsayin
How much did that photo op cost? #westpoint
— Backstorymom1 (@Backstorymom1) June 13, 2020
Those poor West Point Cadets all looked like they had just been sent to detention when Bonespurs McDodger was speaking.
They obviously know his history, and strained to clap for him. pic.twitter.com/O2Dixphgut
— But, but, Obama (@Keytobe1) June 13, 2020
Trump at West Point Made all those cadets return though they had already graduated. The same Narcissist who gassed peaceful demonstrators out of the way for a photo op delivered platitudinous blather, miscast metaphors, ill read & constructed prattle. he has no passion, empathy! pic.twitter.com/oKaPttLzUx
— Forsaken By Tyche (@EffinWells) June 13, 2020
#WestPoint grads deserve a better speech than Trump bragging about himself, bloviating and rambling in a speech neither uplifting or coherent. Did he really bring these young people together to risk #COVID19 for his usual self pleasuring before an audience? Disrespectful.
— Fata Morgana (@maladamus) June 13, 2020
Still, the incongruence of a draft-dodging commander-in-chief addressing the graduates of America’s most distinguished military academy was. not nearly as shocking as the cognitive dissonance between the West Point cadet honor code — as inscribed in stone on campus — and the behavior of the president who was delivering their commencement.
Despite the fact that all the West Point cadets had already graduated, in fact, each of them failed their true final exam.
Despite their adherence to the chain of command in attending the bastardized commencement ceremony, the graduates — by failing to turn their backs on the president or jeer his presence — failed in their application of the cadet honor code by tolerating a commander-in-chief whose entire presidency has been based on the very habits of lying, cheating, and stealing they have been trained to abhor.
At least they kept the applause to a minimum, but it appears as if no true leaders graduated from West Point in the class of 2020.
If just one cadet had the nerve to publicly express what many of their fellow graduates were thinking silently to themselves, then hope for the future leadership of the military would be justified.
That no one did just demonstrates how much the Trump presidency has degraded our nation.
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Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.