By Robert J. Guttman
July 20, 2015
To quote the ever quotable Winston Churchill: “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”
And, this may be the end of the beginning of the Donald’s surge in the polls after his outrageous and completely unjustified statement against Senator John McCain when the real estate mogul stated, “He’s not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured.”
Trump was smug and sarcastic when he dismissed McCain and his status as a genuine war hero. If anyone is a war hero in American history it is John McCain who suffered terrible physical and psychological injuries in his more than five years as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam after he was shot down during the Vietnam War.
And, then to add insult to injury, Trump goes on to trash McCain for not caring about veterans which is also an absurd statement and totally incorrect.
Obviously McCain has joined the very long list of people that Trump has no use for and continues to disparage in his remarks. He just recently made another outrageous personal comment about Arianna Huffington.
Trump should apologize to McCain, who graciously said in an interview he doesn’t need an apology but other veterans and POWs do need to hear some lines of contrition from the self-proclaimed billionaire.
The Republican National Committee immediately put out a statement reading: “Senator McCain is an American hero because he served his country and sacrificed more than most can imagine. There is no place in our party or our country for comments that disparage those who have served honorably.”
The Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton commented: “There’s nothing funny about the hate he is spewing at immigrants and their families and now the insults he has directed at a genuine war hero Senator John McCain.”
Former 2012 GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney tweeted: “Trump shot himself down. McCain and American veterans are true heroes.”
True to his arrogant and rude, sarcastic and condescending manner, Trump said of Romney: “Why would anybody listen to Mitt Romney? He lost an election that should have easily been won against Obama. By the way, so did John McCain.”
Politics and political debate has often been uncivil throughout our history.
In the very close election for president in 1800, Thomas Jefferson won over Vice-President John Adams after many ballots of voting in the House of Representatives. The election was full of falsehoods written by a reporter James Callender, who may have started negative campaigning in the early days of the Republic by his writings.
George H.W. Bush had Lee Atwater who was noted for his brilliant but often negative campaigning. This was showcased in the Willie Horton television ads against Democratic presidential candidate Mike Dukakis.
The 1828 presidential campaign was also very negative with Andrew Jackson being accused of being an adulterer. After winning Jackson accused his political opponents of causing his wife’s death as she had a heart attack before his inauguration. The president implied her heart attack was brought about by the negative stories about her and him during the campaign.
Having worked for the presidential campaign of George McGovern in 1972 I was aware of the dirty tricks and negative campaigning being done by the other side during what is now all rolled together under the term Watergate.
Even though our political history is full of uncivil political writings, campaigning and speeches, Trump’s remarks against McCain were totally out of bounds of what is acceptable in civil conversation.
Any time someone says something against Trump he immediately fires back at them as being a “loser”. When several of Trump’s firms went bankrupt did he call himself a loser?
Senator McCain, a genuine war hero, is not an issue in the 2016 presidential campaign and , guess what, he is a Republican and a former standard bearer for the GOP. Why would Trump decide to criticize a leading member of his own party?
Trump, like Herman Cain, Sarah Palin and others have had their fifteen minutes of fame in the presidential spotlight and then moved back to the obscurity they so richly deserved.
Trump will follow these people and others into obscurity because we all get tired of bombastic braggers with thin skin who call everyone besides themselves “losers”.
Time will help us move on to serious candidates with a serious message who can handle criticism in a civil matter. This summer we are still in the silly season where everyone is off Broadway trying to see if their performance will take them to center stage in the fall.
As Jeb Bush said: “Enough with the slanderous attacks.”
It seems most voters would agree that it is time to end the slanderous attacks.
Or, we might all tend to agree with the article in Politico, where the writer Ben Schrechinger stressed, “Donald Trump might finally have crossed the line.”
By the fall, this will all be behind us and the candidates in both parties, hopefully, will be discussing serious issues of the day. One can hope that will be the case although our political history might say otherwise.
One thing is for sure, as Governor Chris Christie stated, “Senator John McCain is an American Hero. Period. Stop.”
Thanks to McCain and all the other POWs and veterans for their service and shame on Trump for his outrageous, hurtful and just plain dumb comments!