Nikki Haley accused of hypocrisy for posting beachside pic after Memorial Day attack on Kamala Harris

Nikki Haley accused of hypocrisy for posting beachside pic after Memorial Day attack on Kamala Harris
Whole controversy ignores any actual issues facing veterans

Another day, another meaningless social media conflict in Washington DC totally divorced from the issues facing the country. Here’s how this one goes.

On Saturday, vice-president Kamala Harris tweeted two things ahead of the Memorial Day holiday: a video of a conversation with Sydney Barber, the first Black woman Brigade Commander at the US Naval Academy, and a photo of herself along with the text, “Enjoy the long weekend.”

Based on these posts, conservatives, many of whom said nothing as Donald Trump reportedly called fallen soldiers “losers” and “suckers,” taunted the late Arizona senator and former prisoner of war John McCain, and encouraged the 6 January attack on the seat of US government, proceeded to lambast Ms Harris for a perceived failure to honour the troops and their contributions to protecting US democracy ahead of Memorial Day.

Among those were Nikki Haley, the rumoured 2024 hopeful and former US ambassador to the UN during the Trump administration, who called vice-president Harris “unprofessional and unfit” to hold office following the tweet.

A few days later, Ms Haley herself was being slammed for an apparently over-casual public tone on the solemn holiday/holiday weekend, posting a waterside vacation photo with her family.

Some pointed at the fact that the vice-president was, in fact, honouring the troops on Memorial Day, while the former South Carolina governor appeared to be on vacation somewhere tropical.

Others noted Mr Trump’s oftentimes glib approach talking about the armed forces, such as when he once wrote, in 2018, while Ms Haley was still in the Trump administration, “Happy Memorial Day! Those who died for our great country would be very happy and proud at how well our country is doing today. Best economy in decades, lowest unemployment numbers for Blacks and Hispanics EVER (& women in 18years), rebuilding our Military and so much more. Nice!”

Nice!

Of course, this online piety contest ignores any real discussion of the circumstances that killed thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of others around the world in US wars over the last few decades, or left US soldiers who survived with astronomical rates of mental health challenges and PTSD.

Nor does it reckon with, say, the $2.26 trillion the US spent in Afghanistan during a 20-year war that’s had little cumulative impact on either country besides death, or the post-9/11 Authorization for the Use of Military Force, which has given the presidency authority to conduct non-official wars all over the world without the usual Congressional approval. Repealing it has been a perennial goal of Democrats since but it never seems to materialise into something concrete.

In fact, despite the ritual shows of support at sporting events and on political campaigns, the US public at large is mostly detached from engaging with the military in any direct way compared to previous decades. At the end of World War II, nearly 10 per cent of the entire US population was on active military duty, a figure now at barely one per cent.

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