Toy soldiers (miniature figurines representing real soldiers) have a long history. They have been found in ancient Egyptian tombs, and have since appeared in many cultures and eras. During the 18th century, toy soldiers became very popular, inspired by the military exploits of Frederik the Great, the King of Prussia.
An important producer of plastic soldiers in the US was Louis Marx and Company, which produced soldiers of great detail and also historical collections of plastic men and women including a series called “Presidents of the United States”. It is entirely possible that, should Donald Trump become president of the United States, that he could be part of this series. He has the qualifications for it.
Trump has the good looks and elegant demeanor of an expensive toy soldier. And, like a good toy soldier, he has never participated in real war. This has not stopped him for deriding people like senator John McCain, who risked his life in several combat missions and suffered years in a Vietnamese prison camp after his Navy dive bomber was shot down in 1967. As he was ejected from this plane, McCain broke both arms and a leg, and later endured enormous pain when he was under torture during the five years he spent in captivity.
On 18 July 2015, during an interview in Ames, Iowa, Trump famously said of McCain: “He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured,” an irrelevant comment, if there ever was one. Trump’s remarks, predictably, angered many war veterans and, particularly, secretary of state John Kerry who, in a statement released to the press, said: “John McCain is a hero, a man of grit and guts and character personified. He served and bled and endured unspeakable acts of torture. His captors broke his bones, but they could not break his spirit, which is why he refused early release when he had the chance. That’s heroism, pure and simple, and it is unimpeachable.”
In the meantime, while McCain was in prison, Trump was busy presenting deferment arguments from going to war both through student deferment rights and a medical exemption to stave off the draft. The two 2-S classifications covered both his time at Fordham University in the Bronx, New York and his transfer to study business at the University of Pennsylvania.
In October 1968, his physical examination was followed by a new classification, 1-Y, which essentially meant that he could only be drafted if there were a national emergency situation. Later, in 1969, when the nation changed the selective service law to pick people through a random selection of birth dates, Trump got a number that allowed him to avoid being drafted.
Trump, however, has served the country, although not in the field of war. In a 1997 interview with Howard Stern, Trump admitted that he had been “lucky” not to have contracted any sexually transmitted diseases when he was sleeping around at the time. “I’ve been so lucky in terms of that world,” he said. “It’s scary, like Vietnam. It is my personal Vietnam. I feel like a great and very brave soldier.”
Trump’s other way of servicing the country was to have organised the Miss Universe, Miss USA, and Miss Teen USA pageants, including the Miss Universe pageant in Vietnam in 2008. “I have truly enjoyed owning the Miss Universe, Miss USA, and Miss Teen USA pageants,” Trump said at the time. “When I purchased the pageants many years ago, they were in serious trouble. It has been a great honour making them so successful.”
Nobody can deny Trump considerable business acumen. But running a country is a more serious issue than running a pageant. A plastic toy soldier run amok can wreck a children’s playroom. An adult toy soldier without experience and common sense can wreck havoc on the whole world.
Dr. Cesar Chelala is a winner of an Overseas Press Club of America award and two national journalism awards from Argentina