Last updated on October 16, 2020
It’s common courtesy, not to mention common sense, to ask someone’s permission before using them in an advertisement. The Trump campaign has no interest in courtesy, sense, or for that matter the law. They put out an ad which took Dr. Fauci totally out of context to make it appear he was endorsing Trump, and after Dr. Fauci protested that he didn’t give permission and never endorses a political candidate, the White House refused to let him go on the Sunday TV talk shows. Now they’re doing the same thing with Gen. Mark Milley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs:
Politico caught this pretty quickly: Top general did not give his consent to be used in Trump political ad
There's only one problem: The photo featuring Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley was used without the officer's “knowledge or consent,” according to a defense official who requested anonymity to speak about a sensitive topic.
And there’s a very good reason why Milley didn’t give his consent: It’s against the law for a member of the military to endorse any candidate or political position in his or her official capacity or while wearing the uniform of the armed forces of the United States:
Active-duty service members are prohibited from participating in fundraisers, speaking before partisan gatherings and wearing military uniforms at campaign events, according to DoD.
Gen. Milley was caught off guard when Trump used him in his church photo-op, and has since let it be known the military is not to take any role in our politics.
Milley himself has in recent weeks stressed the military's apolitical nature, as politicians prepare for the possibility of a contested election and as Trump repeatedly suggests he might not accept the results if he is not declared the winner.
There’s been speculation that Trump’s photo op with the church and Bible (and by the way, he held it right-side up, if awkwardly) was an attempt to gauge whether he could count on the military’s help in clinging to power. Milley put the kibosh on that. So this picture now is either another attempt to co-opt the army or a way of trying to make Milley complicit in the election.
It is never a good idea to piss off a general, particularly the top general. This will make him even more determined to keep Trump from misusing our armed forces. Not to mention that it will also anger veterans and serving soldiers who have absorbed the rule that civilians do not abuse the military. Trump was already losing votes among those groups, and this will only lose him more.
Oh — that’s also Defense Secretary Esper in the photo. He’s can’t be too happy either.
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