Sunday, July 31, 2016

An apropriate quote from 63 years ago

Donald Trump's latest exercise in egocentricity could be the moment that at last sinks his unprecedented campaign for the presidency. He was responding to the most moving and emotional moment of last week's Democratic National Convention, when a grieving father recalled the heroism of his slain son, an Army officer in Iraq taking the lead to approach a suspicious vehicle, which detonated as he was merely feet away.

The father, Khizr Khan, challenged Trump, telling him that he didn't know what sacrifice was, that he had never sacrificed anything while he and thousands of other fathers had sacrificed their sons for this country.

Trump, who could have safely no-commented or merely expressed sympathy and gratefulness for the Khan family's loss, chose to attack Khan and his wife while at the same time comparing their sacrifice with what he viewed as his own sacrifices. He worked hard, he said; he created jobs, he built companies. Yes, he insisted, those are sacrifices, implicitly, just like the Khans' sacrifice of their son.

One longs for a voice from the past, shouting indignantly, as in the 1954 Army-McCarthy hearings, "Sir, have you no sense of decency?"

Contrast Trump's insensitive and senseless provocation with Abraham Lincoln's heartfelt, handwritten letter to the mother of five sons killed in battle. He offered his sympathy and praised her martyred sons as soldiers who "have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of Freedom." Trump can only imply, "Well, I have suffered, too!" Lincoln was humble and presidential, two adjectives that do not apply to Trump.

The attack on grieving parents and the conflating of his "sacrifices" to theirs could become the defining moment of this campaign. It might finally shock the electorate to abandon Trump once and for all. Or maybe not.

Will the Trump faithful overlook or dismiss yet another offense by the Republican presidential nominee? After all, his faithful have forgiven Trump other insulting, condescending, narcissistic comments in the past:

° He insisted that Sen. John McCain, who spent four years in a North Vietnamese prison and was permanently disabled by torture, was not a hero.
° In the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary and no documentary support, he insisted that Barack Obama had been born in Kenya.
° He implied that Sen. Ted Cruz's father conspired with JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald.
° He accepted the support of a Ku Klux Klan leader.
° He proclaims himself a Christian but shows little familiarity with the Christian Bible or what most Christians would consider a Christian lifestyle.
° He praises Vladimir Putin, who has returned Russia to dictatorial rule and dangerously provocative diplomatic and military steps.
° He ignores the seriousness of the "Brexit" vote to break up the European Union because he thinks it will be good for his golf courses in Britain.
° He has suggested that he could strengthen the U.S. economy by having the Treasury default on its debts.
° He has refused to release his income tax returns, which has been an unspoken rule for the past 40 years. Will American voters never find out what those returns would reveal?
° He has suggested that maybe the United States, under his reign, would not honor its 67-year commitment to NATO. 

If Trump supporters are willing to follow their leader regardless of what he does or says, perhaps that question from 1954 should be asked of them on election day: "Have you no sense of decency?"

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