Yesterday, Trump was speaking at the Family Leadership Summit in Iowa (for some reason, polls and poll watchers are still thinking Iowa is a bellweather for how the country is leaning). This is a major conservative kaffeeklatch, so why they let Mr. "Three Marriages But I'm A Traditional Christian" into things, I don't know. Trump's narcissism was turned up to 11 again, taking credit for starting the "discussion" on illegal immigration (what discussion? All I remember is Trump talking like Tricky Prickears). And then, up came the subject of John McCain.
McCain is a Senator from Arizona and one of the leading lights in the R party. He's done some stuff that hacks me off (during the 2008 campaign, he said he would listen to advisors and the citizens about letting gays serve openly in the armed forces. When Obama tossed DADT, he promptly denounced it despite those voices he said he would heed telling him it should have been repealed), but for the most part, he's got his head on straight. For example, just last year, McCain and the D's Bernie Sanders passed much needed legislation for the Department of Veterans Affairs, reforming it and improving veterans' access to health care (the quality of "care" VA hospitals provide has stuck in my craw for a looooooong time now). He openly clashed with then-President George Bush Jr. over Guantanamo Bay and "enhanced interrogation techniques," and has sought fair treatment for POW's on all sides. Back in 2008, Trump thought he was a good egg, too, endorsing McCain during his campaign when the R's made him a Judas goat. “I know him. I like him. I respect him,” Trump said on Jarry King Live in September, 2008. “He’s a smart guy and I think he’s going to be a great president.” He also donated $28,450 to McCain's campaign.
That was then, this is now. Trump held a rally in Arizona recently, and McCain complained that Trump's campaign was "bringing out the crazies." These crazies are the meal ticket for Trump's ego and, in a move straight out of the NPD textbook, decided to publicly destroy the threat to his little circle jerk. “He’s not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured, OK? I hate to tell you.” The crowd didn't know how to react -- it was a mixture of laughs, gasps, and boos. So Trump decided to clarify. “He’s a war hero because he was captured! OK? I believe, perhaps, he’s a war hero. But right now? He’s said some very bad things about a lot of people.” Afterwards at a press conference, Trump stated, "If a person is captured, they're a hero as far as I'm concerned. ... But you have to do other things also." He continued, "I don't like the job John McCain is doing in the Senate because he is not taking care of our veterans." Please reference my comment about the VA reform above. Thank you. Trump also made sure to mention that McCain graduated "last in his class" in Annapolis (actually, it was fifth from last, but as anyone who has seen Trump Tower in New York can attest, accurate counting has never been Trump's strong suit).
Let's take a moment to review this situation. The Vietnam War was an ugly period in American history, pitting everyone against each other in a situation where there were no good choices. Whether you served or you dodged, you were vilified. My dad did three tours there because he was a patriot and felt it was the right thing to do. He was hammered when he finally got home. People who felt the war was immoral were branded as cowards and traitors. There was no right or wrong here, and it ripped the country apart. It was a stupid war, but the aftereffects were far far worse.
Unlike others with political connections like Shrub, McCain went to Vietnam, flying as a pilot in the Navy. He was shot down in 1967 and spent five years as a prisoner of war being tortured. Famously, he was offered numerous chances to leave because of his daddy and granddaddy were high rankers in the Navy, but he refused each time, staying with his brothers in arms.
Now, let's look at Trump. Trump, the son of a multimillionaire real estate baron, was enrolled at a military academy in his high school years and went to Fordham University in the Bronx upon graduation and then the Wharton School Of Finance at the University of Pennsylvania. He never put on a uniform. During an interview on WNYW this past April, Trump stated, “I actually got lucky because I had a very high draft number.” “I was watching as they did the draft numbers and I got a very, very high number and those numbers never got up to me.” Uh-huh. During his 2011 campaign, Trump's Selective Service docs were FOIA'ed by The Smoking Gun. Here's the dirt -- Trump's number was 365, drawn on Dec. 1, 1968. That's 18 months after he graduated from UPenn. But by that point, Trump had gotten a grand total of four student deferments during his time in school, and after graduation, a medical deferment. Exactly why is unknown, the military records don't mention what the problem was. Trump claims he had a bone spur in one of his ankles, but he doesn't remember which one anymore.
As predicted, this got everybody in a tizzy. Rick Perry and Lindsey Graham are the only two running who actually have military service in their records (not a surprise. Perry is from Texas, Graham is from South Carolina. Military service is expected of anyone able-bodied in the South. A common question heard at social gatherings there is, "Has your son done his service yet?") and said that Trump no longer deserves to be president (did he ever?). In fact, there were only two people who held out condemning Trump. Ted Cruz kept with the Tea Party tradition of goofball conspiracy theories and said the media was trying to set him up. He told Philip Rucker of The Washington Post, “Folks in the press love to see Republican on Republican violence, so you want me to say something bad about Donald Trump or bad about John McCain or bad about anyone else. I’m not going to do it.” A quick read of the wind told Cruz that wasn't a good stance to take, so he later tweeted, “John McCain is an American hero. Although we have some policy disagreements, I’m proud to serve alongside him.” He has yet to say anything bad about Trump, though. Mike Huckabee, who is currently taking a stab at running for president, was simliarly ambiguous, calling McCain a "great American hero" but not saying anything about Trump. He said he was being magnanimous, that it should be Trump who should decide whether or not to "walk back" his comments. He's never been shy about calling out people before, why now?
While Trump might have people rallying to him, this pretty much kills off his primary campaign. The R's are stocked with military vets and people who have done their service. They will refuse to support Trump. The Jewish voting block will also not support him -- Obama's deal with Iran that is being celebrated by every dictatorship in the Middle East has Israel sweating bullets. The Jewish block is going to want someone who can stand up for their country, and seeing that no one will respect Trump militarily means he's the wrong one to back. As the field of R nominees starts to dwindle, the chances of the vote being split enough for Trump to get the majority vanishes like spring ice. He won't make it. And he knows it. Yeah, he's got popular recognition and the Internet buzzing, but those people are happy just to gripe, they don't actually take action. If rabid fans actually translated into results, the Firefly movie wouldn't have bombed at the box office. The Internet can't bring back the Superbar to Wendy's, they aren't going to get him in office.
So all Trump can do is live his dream of being a revolutionary. A dream everyone has.
And most people leave behind when they see how unworkable it is.