Sen. Joe McCarthy (R-WI) thought he was on a roll 62 years ago after four years of destroying hundreds of thousands of lives through accusations of Communism. In 1954, however, he tackled the U.S. Army after it accused McCarthy and his staff of trying to get special treatment for Private G. David Schine, a close friend of Roy Cohen who McCarthy had made counsel for his investigative subcommittee. Broadcast on three television networks, the Army-McCarthy hearings gained a high profile : about 80 million people listened to at least part of the committee hearings. During these hearings, McCarthy attacked Fred Fisher, a young lawyer who the Army’s Special Counsel, Joseph Welch, had intended to include on his staff for the hearings.
Welch’s statement turned the tide against McCarthy. As the senator continued his harangue, Welsh said:
“Senator; you’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”
Those words still reverberate today. Noted historian Doris Kearns Goodwin referred to this turning point while discussing Donald Trump’s attack on Khizr and Ghazala Khan after their speech about their heroic son, Captain Humayun Khan, who died protecting his men in Iraq. Journalist Dan Rather used the same point when writing about Trump’s attack.
In his speech at the Democratic convention, Khan accused Trump of never sacrificing anything for anyone, and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-FL) decided to defend his party’s candidate. After Khan’s speech, he tweeted:
“[Trump] has never sacrificed anything for anyone.” Never? Anything? Anyone? C’mon.”
Since then, Trump listed his personal sacrifices:
“I work very, very hard. I’ve created thousands and thousands of jobs, tens of thousands of jobs, built great structures. I’ve had tremendous success. I think I’ve done a lot.”
He cheated his employees of their wages, drove small businesses into bankruptcies, and left people holding the bag for the costs of his “great structures.” He’s an entrepreneur who made his money at the expense of others. Trump also claimed that he raised millions of dollars for veterans and helped get the Vietnam War Memorial built and that he has raised millions of dollars for vets. His donations to vets came only after the press heavily publicized the fact that he had donated none of the money he raised for them to any veterans’ groups.
After avoiding the draft through a medical exemption for bone spurs and multiple student deferments, he said that his “personal Vietnam” was the danger of getting sexually transmitted diseases. He added, “I feel like a great and very brave soldier.”
Trump also commented on the Khan’s appearance at the Democratic convention:
“If you look at his wife, she was standing there. She had nothing to say. She probably, maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say. You tell me.”
Unfortunately for Trump, Captain Khan’s mother didn’t stay silent. Since that time she has talked about her great pain from the loss of her child and her strong feelings about Trump.
On Sunday, George Stephanopoulos asked Trump what he would say to Khan. Trump said:
“Well, I would say, we have had a lot of problems with radical Islamic terrorism, that’s what I’d say.”
That’s Trump’s excuse for having attacked the parents of a dead soldier hero. On the same day, panelist Alex Castellanos, advisor for Trump’s Super PAC, repeated the same party line on Meet the Press.
“I think Trump has a legitimate point to make there that he should do something about that and that’s the argument in this election. The status quo, more of what’s going on now, you know, basically letting that happen unfiltered or doing something about it.”
What is someone so closely tied into Trump’s campaign doing on a “panel”? Didn’t Trump claim that he wouldn’t have any super PACs? And the United States carefully “filters” immigrants—much more so than they do gun buyers who continue to kill people throughout the nation.
Trump’s problems concerning the Khans accelerated today when his running partner, Mike Pence, was speaking at a Carson City (NV) casino. Catherine Byrne, a 52-year-old military mother whose son serves in the U.S. Air Force, asked the second question of Mike Pence in reference to the Khan family:
“Will there ever be a point in time when you’re able to look Trump in the eye and tell him enough is enough?”
The crowd booed her, the mother of a man serving in the U.S. military. Pence said that he honored Captain Khan as “an American hero” and honored his family yet he has never spent time around someone who is “more devoted” to military and to veterans than Trump. In true contemporary journalistic fashion, the CBS article described Trump’s attack on the Khan family as a “spat.”
Earlier, Pence blamed President Obama and Hillary Clinton for ISIS in connection with the Khan family and then reinforced Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States. He said that in this way “we will reduce the likelihood that other American families will face the enduring heartbreak of the Khan family.”
Corey Lewandowski, fired from the Trump campaign and hired by CNN, said that Captain Khan would be alive if Trump had been president in 2004 because Trump opposed the Iraq War. Trump, however, supported the war until recently. Like Hillary Clinton, Pence voted for the October 2002 Iraq Resolution that gave President George W. Bush the authorization to invade months later. Clinton has since apologized; Pence still believes that the U.S. was right in invading Iraq. Lewandowski’s contract with CNN as a political analyst prevents him from criticizing Trump.
People are still waiting for a scratch in Trump’s Teflon covering that allows all the abusive statements he makes to slip off him. Over a year ago, he started his campaign by declaiming that undocumented immigrants coming from Mexico are rapists, sent by the Mexican government to rid itself of criminals. He continued by calling Vietnam POW Sen. John McCain a loser because he got caught and Megyn Kelly unfair to him because or her hormonal issues. Next he demanded a ban on all Muslim immigration and delayed any disavowal of a KKK leader who has been inspired by Trump’s success to run for U.S. Senate. Trump called for women and people of Mexican and Muslim heritage to be judges on one his thousands of lawsuits because they would treat him unjustly.
Each time, he makes these outrageous statements, most GOP leaders merely shake their heads in dismay and continue to support him for president. None of his competitors, who all suffered from his ire and revenge, deny him support except Ted Cruz, who outraged GOP delegates by speaking his truth at the convention. One pundit predicted that all those people who booed Cruz in 2016 will claim that they cheered him in four years.
The number of conservatives and groups condemning Trump’s words against the Khans since the Democratic convention has grown geometrically, including Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Gold Star Families, and some governors and congressional members. Despite their expressed horror and dismay, however, almost none of them has rejected him for the GOP presidential candidacy. Khan called specifically on congressional leaders House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to repudiate Donald Trump. They have not. Ryan simply says that he already said that he did not approve of Trump’s position toward Muslims. Not even after Trump attacked the Khans again yesterday.
Greg Sargent wrote in the Washington Post:
“If individual Republicans don’t break off their support for Trump’s candidacy now—by, say, withdrawing their endorsements—they run the risk of having no choice but to do so after Trump sinks even further into wretchedness and depravity, to a point of true no return. (Presumably there is such a point.) At that juncture, their move will look unprincipled and desperate, leaving them stained—perhaps irrevocably—with their previous willingness to stick by him during much of his descent, and depriving their break with him of whatever moral force it might have had if done earlier.”
That, as Sargent wrote, is the Republicans’ “brutal trap.”
On All In with Chris Hayes, Michael Steele, MSNBC political analyst and former RNC chair, said that the way to solve the Trump’s problem was—in my paraphrasing—to train him not to give a knee-jerk reaction to everything that happens. Chris Hayes responded, “Good luck!” The question is not whether Trump will find some shred decency within himself because more and more people don’t expect this from him. The question is whether Pence, a born-again Christian, will find the decency to find Trump’s behavior unacceptable.