Trump just disrespected all captured soldiers

See also: How to play Political Jeopardy and John McCain: wartime hero, peacetime coward

I hate spin. For those inclined to spin this, there’s no way to do it.

And we shouldn’t try.

Donald Trump’s comments about John McCain extend far beyond one person. Trump just disrespected every single American soldier who has ever been captured while bravely serving our country.

For those who have not yet heard it, here is Trump’s recent response to a question about John McCain: “He’s not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured, ok?” (He then went on to contradict himself by saying in a somewhat off-handed way: “I believe perhaps he’s a war hero.”)

With his first comment he made clear that, at the very least, he is unworthy of being our Commander in Chief. In my view, Trump (who, by the way, avoided military service because he had draft deferments) just disqualified himself.

Has John McCain been an incredibly disappointing elected official? Yes. Has he said outrageous and obnoxious things about conservatives? Absolutely. Should McCain’s military service give him a lifelong pass on being criticized? Of course not.

Does any of that justify Trump’s comment? No.

Why? Because Trump just implied that he prefers soldiers who don’t get captured to those that do, as if somehow those who are captured are less worthy of our support and respect.

And Trump’s follow up statement after all of this uproar was a dodge. It was classic leftist tactic: pretend you didn’t say what you said or that people misconstrued your words. Per Breitbart, this is Trump’s statement:

I am not a fan (sic) Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)

because he has done so little for our Veterans and he should know better than anybody what the Veterans need, especially in regards to the VA. He is yet another all talk, no action politician who spends too much time on television and not enough time doing his job and helping the Vets. He is also allowing our military to decrease substantially in size and strength, something which should never be allowed to happen.

Furthermore, he was extremely disrespectful to the thousands upon thousands of people, many of whom happen to be his constituents, that came to listen to me speak about illegal immigration in Phoenix last week by calling them “crazies”.

These were not “crazies”—these were great American citizens.

I have great respect for all those who serve in our military including those that weren’t captured and are also heroes.

I want to strengthen our military and take care of our Veterans.  I want to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN especially for those that serve to protect our freedom. I am fighting for our Veterans!

I agree with Trump’s assessment of McCain. He could have given even more examples, because McCain has surely said and done many misguided things that have proven him no friend of conservatives and an unreliable patriot.

But none of that changes what Trump said.

When Trump later appeared at a press conference, he seemed somewhat perturbed as he defended his words while attempting to salvage what he said.  

John McCain has not done enough for the veterans in this country. Let me explain something. And when John McCain calls 15,000 people that showed up in Phoenix, Arizona, to talk about illegal immigration, he calls them a bunch of crazies, he’s doing a great disservice to this country.

Trump then corrected a journalist who accused him of saying that he didn’t respect McCain because he had been captured.

If a person’s captured, they’re a hero as far as I’m concerned. Unless they’re a traitor, like Bergdahl. He was captured. He’s no hero. But you have to do other things, also. I don’t like the job that John McCain is doing in the Senate because he’s not taking care of our veterans.

Nope. There’s no way to save this. Trump tried to deflect and make this about his presumed concern for our veterans. He first said McCain wasn’t a hero simply for being captured, and now is trying to say that, of course, all captured soldiers are heroes.

As for some of the other spin that’s spinning out there, the fact that John McCain himself has said that he is not a war hero does not justify what Trump said. The fact that McCain has been a profound disappointment as a senator does not take away from his military service, and certainly shouldn’t take away a thing from any soldier who’s ever been captured.

The fact that all candidates (and elected officials) say things that are stupid does not justify Trump’s comment which missed the mark when it comes to the people who protect and defend this nation.

The fact that our current president has rarely been called out for saying uninformed, incorrect, and/or blatantly dangerous things does not mean that anyone on our team should be given a blank check to do the same. Aren’t we striving to stand on principle and raise the bar back to where it should be?

The fact that the media treat Trump badly does not mean we are obliged to rush to his side no matter what. And the fact that we want a candidate who is bold, not PC, and unafraid to challenge the status quo does not mean we should give them carte blanche to get away with saying anything simply because they stand behind what they say and we are hungry for candidates to stand their ground.

In fact, it’s not good when someone is so invested in standing their ground that they lack the humility and honesty to genuinely admit when they make a mistake – a trait Trump does not seem to posses.

Like many conservatives I was, and continue to be, disgusted by how Obama became a cult of personality figure. Let’s not do the same with Trump, or any other candidate.

And lest we forget, for example, that it was the same Donald Trump who so many are drawn to for his unabashed boldness, who slammed Pamela Geller after her free speech/draw Mohammed cartoon event in Garland, Texas, earlier this year. As Geller wrote at Breitbart (some of which references an interview with Megyn Kelly):

After the jihad attack on our free speech event in Garland, Texas, Trump fumed:

“…I watched Pam prior, and it looked like she’s just taunting everybody.... (snip)

I mean it’s disgusting. Isn’t there something else they could be doing? Drawing Muhammad?…They can’t do something else? They have to be in the middle of Texas doing something on Muhammad and insulting everybody? What is she doing? Why is she doing it? It’s probably very risky for her — I don’t know, maybe she likes risk? But what the hell is she doing?

…I think Pam Geller is a terrible messenger. I think she’s terrible. We have enough problems without taunting and driving everybody crazy.”

Kelly gave him the opportunity to reconsider his sharia outburst. Perhaps Donald had time to rethink his initial knee-jerk reaction and give thoughtful consideration to the implications of his dangerous position…But no, he dug himself in even deeper. 

Kelly challenged him: “What do we stand for as Americans if not for freedom of speech, ability to express yourself, this speech in particular which was in defiance, it’s like the cartoon that won the contest it had Muhammad standing there saying you can’t draw me and the person looking up to him saying, that’s why I draw you.” But Trump doubled down, insisting: “I’m not the only Conservative Republican that feels this way. They’re lucky to be alive. Why with all the problems we have, why taunt?”

It isn’t about taunting, Mr. Trump. It’s about defending the freedom of speech against violent intimidation. (snip)

What Trump clearly doesn’t understand is that the freedom of speech is the foundation of a free society. Without it, a tyrant can wreak havoc unopposed, while his opponents are silenced. (snip)

What is behind Trump’s willingness to abandon the freedom of speech? Money – lots of Trump money, in Muslim countries…. (snip)

The fact is that Donald Trump struck a chord when he spoke out on immigration. He said a lot of things that a lot of people are thinking, and the fact is that immigration is a critical issue, particularly now, with our national security hanging by a thread. 

But he’s wrong on the First Amendment. He’s wrong on the cornerstone of our democracy. The freedom of speech is elemental. If he doesn’t get that, he couldn’t possibly be a good President.

America would be hard-pressed to trust a President with extensive investments in sharia nations.

I agree with Geller. And I think America would also be hard-pressed to trust a president who was willing to off-handedly discount soldiers who are captured.

There’s no spinning this one.

Let’s not be so desperate for a strong voice that we ignore critical weaknesses in our candidates.

My fear is that Donald Trump is tapping into rage and that some of that rage is blind.

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