Generally speaking, I don’t believe in conspiracies. I think Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone, that Elvis really has left the building and that the moon landing actually happened. But now I’m starting to wonder if Donald Trump is the central character in a giant conspiracy to get Hillary Clinton elected president. I’m starting to wonder if Donald Trump is a mole, secretly working for the Democratic Party.
Every day he comes up with something new that damages the GOP brand. If he isn’t questioning U.S. support for NATO, or revisiting his feud with Ted Cruz, he’s calling on the Russians to help find Hillary Clinton’s 30,000 deleted emails, for which more than a few liberals called him a “traitor” who was encouraging Russian to spy on the United States.
Now, we’ve got a new brouhaha without the haha that has Republicans rightly worried. Donald Trump has decided to go to battle with a Gold Star mother and father.
By now, you probably know the story. Khizar Khan, whose 27-year old son was killed in Iraq by a suicide bomber, took aim at Donald Trump during a speech he gave at the Democratic convention in Philadelphia, suggesting that Trump doesn’t understand what’s in the Constitution because if he did he would never have called for the (temporary) banning of all Muslims entering the United States.
Here’s a rule to live by: Always show respect to Gold Star families. We may disagree on matters of policy. That’s legitimate. But show empathy. If they take a shot at you, be gracious enough to understand their grief and move on. This is not easy, of course, for Donald Trump, a man who gives narcissism a bad name.
But Donald Trump, who also is famously thin-skinned and apparently proud of it, couldn’t resist defending himself. Mr. Khan, Trump said, had “no right to stand in front of millions of people and claim I have never read the Constitution and say many other inaccurate things.” He speculated that Mr. Khan’s wife Ghazala, because she’s a Muslim, “maybe wasn’t allowed to have anything to say” as she stood by her husband’s side, later explaining she was still too heartbroken over the loss of her son to speak at the convention. And when asked by George Stephanopoulos on ABC what sacrifices he has made for his country, Trump said he hired tens of thousands of workers for his businesses. Could he not have known how that would come across in a conversation about a soldier who sacrificed his life for his country?
Republicans aren’t amused. They’re scared stiff. They know how much harm he’s doing to the party. John McCain – who Trump has said was considered a hero only because he was captured – issued a statement saying: “While our party has bestowed upon him the nomination, it is not accompanied by unfettered license to defame those who are the best among us.” McCain is up for re-election this year in Arizona.
So is Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, who said: “I am appalled that Donald Trump would disparage them and that he had the gall to compare his own sacrifices to those of a Gold Star family.”
Other Republicans disavowed Trump’s statements, too. Paul Ryan, the House speaker, said: “Many Muslim Americans have served valiantly in our military, and made the ultimate sacrifice. Captain Khan was one such brave example. His sacrifice — and that of Khizr and Ghazala Khan — should always be honored. Period.”
But more than a few of Trump’s most passionate supporters decry what they see as the media’s double standard. Why was Patricia Smith’s speech at the GOP convention widely condemned by liberals in the media? Why was it called a “cynical exploitation of grief”? Was it because she blamed Hillary Clinton for her son’s death in Benghazi? Why was a writer for GQ so incensed with her speech that he put out this tweet: “I don’t care how many children Pat Smith lost, I would like to beat her to death”? He later apologized.
Setting liberal journalism and its biases aside, Donald Trump should have been gracious. He should have shown respect to the Khan family even if none was given to him. There was no need to fight back, point by point, with a family whose son was killed fighting for his country.
I thought that Donald Trump had gone too far when he insulted John McCain. I thought that demeaning a man who fought for his country and was tortured in a POW camp for five years was enough to kill his chances to be president. Trump’s avid supporters obviously disagreed. I suspect they won’t care much about his battle with the Khan family either.