Donald Trump talks with supporters during a campaign stop at the Indiana State Fairgrounds on Wednesday April 20, 2016. (Tom Russo | Daily Reporter)

(Terre Haute) Tribune-Star

Everyone knows a blowhard who showers listeners with hair-brained opinions. The big-talker pretends to be an expert, but has little knowledge of the topics beyond talk-radio conspiracy theories and social media memes.

You know the type. The person might be entertaining in a coffee shop, a bar or an office break-room, but not in the Oval Office, with the nuclear codes readily available.

The commander in chief of the U.S. Armed Forces must possess discernment, wisdom and critical thinking skills based on facts. As president, he or she is responsible for the most powerful military apparatus on earth. That requires being a student of alliances, global politics and the contributions made daily by each branch of the military. The leader of the free world needs thick skin and a steady temperament to govern in the nuclear era — a person who thinks before speaking.

Donald Trump has personified none of those qualities in his populist quest for the White House. The past two weeks have underscored his flaws and disrespect for our active military, and for our veterans.

Skeptics of Trump, from inside and outside his own party, have doubted his preparedness since the ex-reality TV star began his divisive, rant-driven, yet successful bid for the Republican presidential nomination. Trump’s conduct raises serious questions about the danger of his overseeing our military.

Past military service is not a requirement to be a good president, but respect and understanding for veterans — including the tens of thousands living in Indiana — and the men and women serving today is a necessity. Trump showed his shallow concern for the sacrifices of military members and their families by refusing to accept criticism from the parents of an American Army officer, a Muslim, who died in a heroic gesture in Iraq in 2004. Instead, Trump disparaged the soldier’s Gold Star family in a week-long tirade simply because the grieving couple appeared at the Democratic National Convention and vividly exposed the ignorance of his Muslim ban idea.

His year-long disrespect for Arizona Sen. John McCain continued into last week. Last summer, Trump declared that McCain, a decorated veteran who spent 5½ years as a prison of war in Vietnam, was only a war hero because he got captured. “I like people that weren’t captured,” said Trump, who never served in the military. Last week, Trump refused to endorse McCain for re-election to the Senate.

The same Trump who boasts he will “bomb the [expletive] out of ISIS” calls the U.S. military, which would carry out his orders, “a disaster.” His incoherent, contradictory strategies include a threat to pull American troops from South Korea, Japan and Germany — friendly nations that have enjoyed decades of peace and prosperity, fostered by the U.S. military installations there. Trump calls the NATO alliance, which has stabilized Europe for 67 years, “obsolete” and inflamed fears of allies by insisting that America would defend Baltic nations only if they met their financial obligations to the U.S.

He pretends to be a champion of veterans. Yet, it took four months and intense media questioning for Trump to make a promised $1 million contribution to veterans’ causes last spring. A retired four-star Marine general criticized Trump’s recommendation for the U.S. military to use waterboarding and other forms of torture, and the thin-skinned billionaire responded in his typically petty style, calling John Allen “a failed general.”

Trump needs to take his bluster back to the board room of one of his skyscrapers, or the set of a late-night talk show. America, and the men and women serving it in uniform, require a calm, rational leader behind the Resolute Desk.

This was distributed by the Hoosier State Press Association. Send comments to dr-editorial@greenfield reporter.com.