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“The GOP Finally Finds The Courage To Attack Donald Trump”: You Can’t Shame Someone When They Had No Shame To Begin With

The GOP may finally have found the means to rid itself of that meddlesome real estate tycoon. And it’s fitting—and really, should have been predictable—that what is uniting Republicans against Donald Trump is his own big mouth. It’s one thing to call Mexican immigrants rapists and drug dealers—that caused some agita, but not enough to rid Trump’s GOP opponents of their visceral fear of alienating his supporters. But insulting John McCain’s war record? That’s something everyone can agree on, and thus gives the other candidates just the excuse they’ve been waiting for to bring out the knives for Trump.

On the off chance you haven’t heard, on Saturday, Trump said some interesting things about McCain, with whom he has had a little East Coast/Southwest beef of late. The setting was the Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa, where the candidates go to assure the evangelical voters who dominate the state’s Republican caucuses that they are loyal members of Team Jesus. At a presentation in which he was interviewed by pollster Frank Luntz, Trump essentially said that McCain is sort of a war hero, but maybe not really. “He’s a war hero because he was captured,” Trump said. “I like people that weren’t captured.”

That’s the part you’ve heard about. But the fuller picture shows that as silly as Trump’s assertion was, the really asinine thing in that exchange was the question. Trump and McCain have been arguing about a number of things, but most particularly, McCain said that Trump was succeeding because he “fired up the crazies,” and Trump responded by tweeting that McCain “should be defeated in the primaries. Graduated last in his class at Annapolis—dummy!” (the details of all this are explained here, if you care). Luntz said to Trump, “Referring to John McCain, a war hero, five and a half years as a POW, you call him a dummy. Is that appropriate in running for president?”

If you watch the video, you’ll see Trump give a rambling explanation of why he doesn’t like John McCain, saying nothing about his war record, and after a minute or so Luntz can’t take it anymore and blurts out, “He’s a war hero!” It’s only then that Trump says the part about McCain being captured. But what exactly was Luntz arguing here? That no one is allowed to say anything mean to John McCain because of what he went through almost half a century ago? McCain’s captivity was surely horrible, and he showed great courage in enduring it. But the guy has been a politician for more than 30 years. I’m pretty sure it ought to be okay to insult him.

The truth is that there are a whole lot of people in politics, both Democrats and Republicans, who share Donald Trump’s opinion that John McCain is a jerk. But if Frank Luntz was hoping to bait Trump into denying McCain’s heroism and create the moment that would bring Republicans together against him, he couldn’t have planned it any better. This particular comment, far more than all the other stupid or offensive things Trump has said just in the past couple of months, offered the perfect vehicle for them to attack—and without any of the risk that might come from sounding like you don’t hate immigrants. The reaction from everyone in the GOP was unanimous, and Rick Perry summed it up well: “His attack on veterans makes him unfit to be commander in chief of the forces and he should immediately withdraw from the race for president.” Don’t you wish.

The Republicans are getting ample help from the news media, whose adoring relationship with John McCain goes back two decades. McCain’s Vietnam experience is one of the foundations of that relationship—reporters have unlimited admiration for it, and express that admiration not only in endless retellings of McCain’s suffering, but in the comically false assertion, also endlessly repeated, that McCain is so noble and modest that he would never bring up Vietnam himself. (The truth is that McCain constantly brings up Vietnam to use to his political advantage, and always has, from his very first run for office. Which is his right to do, of course, but the rest of us should at least be honest about it.) So it isn’t only politicians rushing to McCain’s side of this spat; the news media are, too.

If there’s one thing Republicans know how to do, it’s bludgeon someone for showing insufficient respect for “the troops”; it just so happens that this is the rare case when it might be somewhat justified, even if their outrage is utterly opportunistic. Up until now, all the candidates knew they had to get rid of this guy, because he was making their party look both hateful and ridiculous. But they were too worried that if they attacked him, they’d alienate the voters drawn to his anti-immigrant rhetoric. Now they’ve got their chance to beat him down without much risk to themselves, and they aren’t going to pass it up.

If you’re an ordinary Republican primary voter today, you’re seeing every politician you respect condemning Donald Trump, and one might think that would inevitably have an impact on his standing in the primaries. But that may not necessarily be the case. Trump’s support, substantial though it may be, is limited—right now he’s leading the field, but five out of six primary voters are still supporting someone else. And all the evidence suggests that the people who are supporting him, conservative though they may be, are as angry at the party’s establishment as they are at immigrants and Barack Obama.

So it’s entirely possible that once the campaign moves on from the next micro-controversy in a few days, Trump’s standing won’t be too different from what it is now. One thing’s for sure: He won’t be pushed out of the race by the rest of the party. You can’t shame someone into submission when they had no shame to begin with.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect, July 19, 2015

July 25, 2015 - Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Presidential Candidates, John McCain | , , , , ,

2 Comments »

  1. The new polls will show the impact of his remarks and his continual digging of his hole. You can stick a fork in him as he is done.

    Like

    Comment by btg5885 | July 25, 2015 | Reply

  2. They are all idiots. With these kind of people who want to be President of the United States of America, this country is doomed.

    Like

    Comment by renxkyoko | July 25, 2015 | Reply


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