Politics, Moderate

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Politics

What's in a name?

Kathleen Parker on

WASHINGTON -- If there's any redeeming news this week, it's that no one will ever forget La David Johnson's name.

Johnson, of course, was one of the four U.S. soldiers recently killed in Niger. Apparently his name seemed to slip President Trump's mind when he called Johnson's widow to offer his condolences. According to Myeshia Johnson, Trump initially referred to her husband only in the third-person "he."

"He knew what he signed up for," the president reportedly said.

A wide-ranging debate ensued about who said what during the call, involving several players who contradicted each other. Among them, Trump's chief of staff, retired Gen. John Kelly, who inexcusably referred to Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., who listened to the call, as noisy "empty barrels."

As things devolved, the president characteristically dug in his heels, denying both the momentary name lapse as well as the strange salve he attempted to apply to Myeshia Johnson's broken heart.

"He made me cry," she recounted on ABC's "Good Morning America."

She may well have cried no matter what the president said, as anyone familiar with grief well knows.

But this is clearly not the point, which is that the commander in chief should know the name of the deceased soldier when he calls the family to express condolences. Surely, Trump is familiar with the cheat sheet. Indeed, when he finally got around to saying Johnson's name, he told Myeshia Johnson that he knew her husband's name because he had his service papers right there in front of him.

Would that he had not held himself so long in suspense.

Doubtless, many will think this much ado. Trump, after all, did finally refer to Johnson by name. Surely, no one at this point expects artfulness -- or authentic empathy -- from this president.

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