Wednesday, August 3, 2016
WHAT WILL IT TAKE?
If you search old videos on You Tube, you can easily find clips of political pundits commenting on the early days of Donald Trump's presidential campaign by laughing at the absurd idea that he would ever be the Republican presidential nominee. And in the following months, the laughter continued; after each absurd lie or bigoted statement Trump made, the media would announce that his campaign was over, that he couldn't possibly keep going. For me, the moment that I thought it was all over was when he ridiculed fellow Republican John McCain by saying he wasn't a war hero because he was captured in Viet Nam. ("I like people who weren't captured".) To put that in proper context, here was a man who never served in the military mocking the record of a fellow party member and previous presidential candidate. Surely the Republican voters, the party that wraps itself in the flag and loves the military, would never except Trump after such an offensive statement. But they did.
Trump himself sometimes seems a bit stunned by his support, once saying "I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters", and for the past year that seemed to be true, as he moved from one childish insult to another lie to another offensive statement. In past years, any one of his statements would probably have disqualified any other candidate, but somehow they have made him stronger. Another telling moment for him is when he admitted that in his impromptu speeches, anytime he felt he was rambling too much, he would repeat his line about building a wall with Mexico, knowing that that always got applause. His base clearly don't seem to care that he's lying to them, they're more concerned about hearing what they believe echoed back to them rather than the truth; they're like creationists rejecting carbon dating and fossils.
His outrageous behavior during the Republican presidential nomination campaign has been defended by his reluctant supporters who have placated nervous party members by making assurances that he would become more presidential after the Republican convention.
Well, so much for that! First, he gave a major headline grabbing interview during the Democratic convention (normally presidential candidates lay low during the other parties convention, but a raging narcissist like Trump couldn't possibly allow attention to move away from him for 4 whole days) in which he encouraged Russian computer hackers to release Hillary Clinton's emails. Yes, here was a man running for president encouraging a foreign country to commit an illegal act of espionage against our country! While he later tried to say he was just being sarcastic, the fact that he would even joke about something like that is troubling to say the least.
And then there was his response to one of the most powerful speeches of the Democratic convention: Khizr and Gazala Khan, the Muslim parents of a son who died in Iraq defending his fellow troops, appeared on stage, putting a human face on Trump's absurd decision to ban all Muslim immigrants to the US. Khizr spoke strongly about the death of his son and Trump's fear mongering. When later asked to respond, Trump implied that Gazala didn't talk because her husband wouldn't let her; after all, Muslims don't respect women. (She later said that shouldn't talk because she is always overcome with emotion when talking about her son, but that she did help with her husband's speech).
Immediately, Trump's comments were condemned by top Republicans like Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Senator John McCain, although they stopped short of rescinding their endorsements of him. August 2nd brought a headline in the New York Times showing that Trump, in typical Trumpian fashion, is giving interviews in which he refuses to apologize for his statements, despite the pleas of his own advisers to move on. This all bares naked one of his biggest flaws as both a candidate and a human being: his inability to admit mistakes and his continual desire to lash out at any criticism. Will this, finally, be the last straw for Trump? Let's hope so. Honestly, what kind of man goes after the grieving mother of a fallen hero?