Tuesday, August 02, 2016

On Donald Trump's five draft deferments

Men of a certain age should read this in Monday's New York Times article: "Donald Trump's Draft Deferments: Four for College, One for Bad Feet."

Spoiler Alert: Trump didn't get drafted during Vietnam. A shame, really, since he could have advised Gen. Westmoreland and his brain trust on the proper way to conduct and win a war. Of course, the "best and the brightest" were already advising Lyndon Johnson and later, the dynamic duo of Nixon/Kissinger on "How the world's number one superpower can defeat tiny pajama-clad guys hiding in holes in the jungle." The addition of another brainiac from the Ivy League (Wharton School) might have tipped the balance in our favor.

But Trump took his 1-Y deferment (bone spurs in his feet) into the real estate business and made a bundle, facing many sacrifices along the way. The bone spurs eventually cleared up, allowing The Donald to jump up on stages and cut the fool from Flint to Fort Lauderdale.

Full disclosure: I also had five draft deferments. Two for education, one for ROTC, one the coveted 1-A and, finally, I was told by Selective Service that my presence wouldn't be needed except in times of national emergency. That day never arrived.

Trump didn't go to Vietnam. Neither did I. He had bone spurs and a high draft number. My number from the December 1969 Selective Service Lottery was 128. In 1970, the Selective Service called eligible men with numbers all of the way up to 300.

The difference is, I'm not running for president. I am not boasting that I will send young people to war against Radical Islamic Extremists. I am not buds with Russian oligarchs and Vladimir "Big V" Putin. I do not belittle sacrifices made by Gold Star families.

Trump feels "a little guilty" for not serving. So do I. I guess we have that in common too.

Some politicians float proposals about a return to the draft. Or at least a national service program for 18-25 year olds. Republicans don't like this idea as it would put the educated class in harm's way, the same way it does now for enlistees from Meeteetsee, Wyoming, and Itta Bena, Mississippi. Sacrifices would be made.

The draft wasn't fair. Random in its ways, never more so as when the lottery was in operation.

Trump has his story. I have mine. I will post it in installments over the next month.

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