Blog Ipsa Loquitur

The Washington Posts’s Marc Fisher and Sari Horwitz published a pair of profiles on two of the people at the center of the biggest political scandal in a generation, titled Mueller and Trump: Born to wealth, raised to lead. Then, sharply different choices.

I didn’t know much about Bob Mueller before this (he was on a high school ice hockey team with John F. Kerry?!), and this is a fascinating glimpse into his upbringing and career. For my money, the way Fisher and Horwitz contrast Mueller and Trump even as young men is the most entertaining part of this whole thing. For example, this episode from Trump’s military school tenure as Captain:

Promoted to captain of A Company, Trump won respect from some of the other boys, who said they never wanted to disappoint him. Trump introduced them to a world of fun, setting up a tanning salon in his dorm room, bringing beautiful women to campus and leading the baseball team to victory.

But other cadets said Trump tried to break boys who didn’t bend to his will. During Trump’s senior year, when one of his sergeants shoved a new cadet against a wall for not standing at attention quickly enough, Trump was relieved of his duty in the barracks, said Lee Ains, the student who was shoved.

Trump denied being demoted, saying he was actually moved up. “You don’t get elevated if you partake in hazing,” he told The Post in 2016. He was put in charge of a drill team that would perform in New York City’s Columbus Day Parade.

Is immediately followed by a smash cut to Second Lieutenant Bob Mueller’s tour of duty in Vietnam:

Mutter’s Ridge was a killing ground, a craggy hellscape in Quang Tri province where the Marines had been fighting for years, setting up and abandoning bases as they tried over and over to assert control of one of the main routes the North Vietnamese used to infiltrate the South.

Year after year, the ridge, hard by the demilitarized zone that separated North from South, was the scene of fierce assaults, fleeting victories and fiery retreats.

On Dec. 11, 1968, Mueller led a platoon of Marines into an eight-hour battle around an extensive complex of North Vietnamese army bunkers. The enemy hit Mueller’s men with a “heavy volume of small arms, automatic weapons, and grenade launcher fire,” according to a Marine Corps account.

I love the editorial contrast here. Apart from noting that Trump applied for and received five draft deferments during the Vietnam War, that’s about as far as Fisher and Horwitz explicitly take the comparison. Also worth noting, this profile was published before Trump’s absurd remarks about how he’d personally storm into a school shooting. It’s just a coincidence that this impeachment of his character appeared in the Post around the same time as his macho posturing.