If you are hoping to get the right-wing of this country to vote for you, you can call Latin-American immigrants “rapists”; you can call African-Americans “thugs”; you can call women “sluts” and you can call LGBT whatever the hell you want, but do not insult veterans. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what Donald Trump did on Saturday and the frontrunner may be paying the price.
At the Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa, Trump, who collects feuds like people collect Facebook friends, has a long-running feud with Senator John McCain, who was a prisoner of the Vietnam war for five years and was given several medals for his service. Trump is not at all impressed with McCain’s record. He said:
He’s not a war hero,” Trump said during an onstage Q&A at the conservative Family Leadership Summit, an event that features a number of Republican presidential contenders. “He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured, okay?”
Perhaps realizing he had gone too far – even for him – Trump followed up by saying “perhaps he’s a war hero” before repeating his criticism of McCain’s academic record in the U.S. Naval Academy over five decades ago.
When asked about it later, Trump said:
“I think John McCain’s done very little for the veterans. I’m very disappointed in John McCain,” Trump said. “If somebody’s a prisoner I consider them a war hero other than [Bowe Bergdahl] … I don’t consider him a war hero. If somebody’s in prison I would consider that person a war hero, but we have a lot of war heroes who weren’t prisoners also and we should give them some credit too.”
Trump has no military service. He was opposed to the Vietnam war at the time and he received a deferment.
Other Republican candidates couldn’t wait to jump on that moment. Bobby Jindal, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, Lindsey Graham, Rand Paul, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, and Carley Fiorina all tweeted as soon as they heard about the comments. Voters are just as angry.
Now, on Twitter, Trump is doing what he does best, he’s doubling down.
One of the reasons I am no fan of John McCain is that our Vets are being treated so badly by him and the politicians. I will fix VA quickly.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 18, 2015
Does Trump have a point here? McCain’s voting record on veterans, especially lately, hasn’t been good. According to Rep. Chet Edwards (D) of Crawford, TX:
If you look at John McCain’s record on veterans issues, it’s a failed one. … Even the Vietnam Veterans of America, those who served with Sen. McCain in Vietnam, have given Sen. McCain a ‘D’ voting record when it comes to voting to improve veterans health care and benefits. … But I think America’s veterans and voters have a right to know before the election that his voting record in the Senate has been a failed one.
Source: Think Progress
That was when he was running for President. Has he gotten better since? In 2011, he wanted to cut benefits for veterans medical care.
But, not everything is bad. Last year, he and Bernie Sanders spearheaded the reform of veterans healthcare, making it easier for veterans to get care.
First and foremost, the McCain of today is a Republican. If Obama is for something, he’s almost assured to be against it, even if that means that veterans are hurt. As for Donald Trump, this could be, if not the final nail in his coffin, a nail in his coffin. His inartful dig at McCain was not true. Being captured doesn’t make a soldier less of a hero, but many could argue, and do argue that McCain turned his back on his fellow veterans when he became a Senator.
Let’s also not forget that Republicans have had no problem attacking the service of Tammy Duckworth or of John Kerry. Duckworth, who lost both her legs in Iraq, was called disloyal to her country. The attacks against Kerry, who was also a war hero and a prisoner of war, were so bad that a whole new word for political smears was named after his attacks: swift boating. They’ve also attacked Max Cleland, who lost three limbs in Vietnam. Seriously, if there is a (D) behind a war hero’s name, the gloves are off.
In the meantime, Democrats are busy defending John McCain, because Democrats are the true party for veterans.
Featured image via Flickr.com.