When John F. Kennedy was asked how he became a hero in World War II, he said, “It was involuntary. They sank my boat.” But it wasn’t the Japanese sinking of PT 109 that made JFK a hero; it was what he did to save his men after the sinking. The inimitable GOP buffoon candidate Donald Trump said of John McCain, “He’s not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured.” Most of us have heard the continued fallout from that asinine remark.
McCain was a hero not because his plane was shot down over enemy territory but for how he comported himself afterward. He endured five years of unimaginable torture as a prisoner of war, and refused his captors’ offer of an early release because he would not leave behind his squad of fellow prisoners. McCain suffers resulting physical limitations to this day. Donald Trump spared himself the possibility of that kind of nightmare by getting repeated student deferments and also getting a medical deferment due to a bone spur on his foot. I’m not aware that he ever volunteered for any other form of national service.
Finally some of the Donald’s fellow Republican Presidential candidates, many of whom had been cravenly silent when, with a broad brush, he damned Mexican immigrants as drug dealers and rapists, saw their opening. These GOP pols, of course, had taken a walk when 2004 Presidential candidate John Kerry’s war record was swift-boated. Now they are aligning themselves with veterans, saying Trump is insulting their service and that he simply is not qualified to be President. Shockingly perhaps, the Christian conservative crowd to whom he was speaking in Iowa applauded Trump’s remarks about McCain, though apparently they didn’t like his answers about God and forgiveness, taking communion, and his conduct during three marriages.
Trump is a godsend for the Democrats and those who are not interested in serious debate on the issues. It’s not just that Hillary Clinton has a candidate whose hair draws more comments than her own hairstyle. It’s that Trump’s high standing in the polls looks very bad for the GOP in a way that could help the Democrats to victory. The Republican National Committee surely recognizes the problem he presents and has moved to distance itself from his most recent remarks.
And, if later on Trump were to decide to run as an independent, appealing to the angry, the disaffected, the haters of all stripes, that could also drain enough votes from the eventual Republican nominee to guarantee a Democratic win.
That said, his inclusion next month in the Fox debate among the poll-determined top ten GOP contenders would be a ratings winner for the network. I’ll be watching; won’t you?
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