According to The Daily Beast, President Trump once spent a significant portion of a meeting with a coalition of veterans’ groups arguing over a detail from the 1979 Vietnam war film Apocalypse Now. What’s weirder (and also entirely believable) is that Trump’s reported argument was factually, demonstrably wrong and yet he refused to concede his point, instead wasting time that had been allotted for veterans’ organizations to lobby for things like expanded medical benefits for former soldiers.
In a March 2017 meeting organized by former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman, the president, along with staffers including Stephen Miller, Kellyanne Conway, and Sean Spicer, met with a coalition of groups advocating for veterans. The American Legion, American Veterans, and Veterans of Foreign Wars were among the groups in attendance, but it was during his interaction with the rep from Vietnam Veterans of America that the meeting reportedly went sideways.
Sources who were in the room told The Daily Beast that VVA founder and former medic Rick Weidman brought up the need to make medical benefits available to more veterans who were poisoned by Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. Trump is said to have initially dismissed the concern as something that was already “taken care of” before asking if Agent Orange was “that stuff from that movie,” which people in the room eventually figured out meant Apocalypse Now. The “stuff from that movie” is actually napalm, as name checked by Robert Duvall’s famous “I love the smell of napalm in the morning” line, but Trump simply refused to let it go. From The Daily Beast:
He then went around the room polling attendees about if it was, in fact, napalm or Agent Orange in the famous scene from “that movie,” as the gathering—organized to focus on important, sometimes life-or-death issues for veterans—descended into a pointless debate over Apocalypse Now that the president simply would not concede, despite all the available evidence.
Finally, Trump made eye contact again with Weidman and asked him if it was napalm or Agent Orange. The VVA co-founder assured Trump, as did several before him, that it was in fact napalm, and said that he didn’t like the Coppola film and believed it to be a disservice to Vietnam War veterans.
According to two people in attendance, Trump then flippantly replied to the Vietnam vet, “Well, I think you just didn’t like the movie,” before finally moving on.
One attendee described the meeting as “really fucking weird.” Sounds about right.
Perhaps Trump would be better able to discern the difference between the two chemicals if he hadn’t deferred military service five times.