What did Donald Trump mean when he declared (once) that Sen. John McCain (R.-Ariz.) was not a war hero, yet recanted four times, stating that McCain was a war hero?
After five years of captivity by the North Vietnamese, McCain’s captors at the “Hanoi Hilton” offered to release him. He refused. His father and grandfather were admirals in the Navy; they had considerable political pull. But McCain, as a commander, refused to leave while his men were still held captive. For this, he was regarded as a hero.
Some former guests at the “Hanoi Hilton” have claimed that McCain was actually considered “The Songbird of the Hanoi Hilton,” giving vital information to the Viet Cong to which he was privy as an admiral’s son. Former POW’s imprisoned in his cell block complained that they survived the Hanoi Hilton and also kept their honor.
Just prior to the 2008 campaign, a former Hanoi interrogator was interviewed by one of the major networks, telling the reporter that McCain was a traitor and had given the North Vietnamese valuable intelligence.
Donald Trump accused Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) of being “all talk, no action” on veterans’ issues on Saturday as he sought to clarify his dismissive words toward McCain earlier in the day.
“I am not a fan of John McCain 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,” Trump said in a statement released by his campaign.
“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,” Trump continued. “He is also allowing our military to decrease substantially in size and strength, somethings which should never be allowed to happen. ”
Trump faced immediate criticism Saturday after mocking McCain’s six years as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War.
“He was a war hero because he was captured,” Trump sarcastically told host Frank Luntz during the 2015 Family Leadership Summit. “I like people who weren’t captured.”
Trump was swiftly rebuked by the Republication National Committee and several of his fellow 2016 Republican presidential candidates.
Trump said in his statement that McCain has been “extremely disrespectful to the thousands upon thousands of people, many of whom happen to be his constituents, that came out to listen to me speak about illegal immigration by calling them ‘crazies.’
“These were not ‘crazies’ — these were great American citizens,” Trump said.
“I have great respect for all those who serve in our military including those that weren’t captured and are also heroes,” he continued. “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! ”
We needn’t go any farther; there’s the damning breach located in that paragraph that puts the chink in Trump’s flashy armor: “I have great respect for all those who serve in our military that weren’t captured and are also heroes.”
In trying to attack McCain, he fired off a verbal machine gun instead of a close-range pistol. He dishonored a whole generation of Vietnam veterans who were h3ld as prisoners-of-war and endured their incarceration with honor and dignity.
Let’s say, just for argument’s sake that the rumors are true, that McCain betrayed the United States: Even if McCain deserves reproach as a POW for singing like a canary and giving the Viet Cong crucial information, Trump just insulted an entire group of veterans, many of whom never returned.
Are they to be branded as “traitors,” too? What of their poor families? McCain didn’t run to the enemy lines as Bergdahl did in Afghanistan. McCain was shot down and captured. Are only the living veterans who succeeded in returning home to the United States to be saluted by Trump as a future Commander-in-Chief? Are those who were captured by the North Koreans, the North Vietnamese, the Japanese, the Germans, and the Italians all to be considered unworthy in this presidential wannabes eyes?
What of those who were killed in battle and didn’t return? Are they deemed to be “bad soldiers” because they had the misfortune to be killed? What of those (like my father) who suffered non-combat injuries during service?
Trumpet seems to be styling himself after World War II General George S. Patton, who infamously slapped a soldier suffering from battle fatigue or shellshock, or as it is now known, Post Traumatic Shock Syndrome. It didn’t end well for Patton. He was killed in a car accident that those at the time could tell you was no accident.
Trump supporters are suspicious of McCain’s war hero status. But what bothers them is McCain’s tendency to cross the aisle. They really hate him for winning the 2008 GOP Nomination. War hero or not, young people were not going to vote for a white-haired old man. Young Conservatives (like my nephew) stayed home that Election Day.
This last gaffe could cost Trump (who has vowed never to apologize) the support he needs to win the nomination. Money alone won’t suffice.
Before Trump shoots his mouth off again, machine-gun style, he should take better aim and avoid mowing down innocent victims and potential voters. The Democrats, of course, are thrilled that he’s swift-boated his own base. Trump never served in the military (neither did Obama) and certainly was never held prisoner in a POW camp during wartime. Unless he has walked in their boots, he should not comment about the experiences of others who’ve been there. At the very least, he should read the Medal of Honor website.
He has the right to criticize McCain, or any other politician, on the issues (such as supporting the military). He needs to refrain from insults and name-calling. A presidential campaign is not a reality TV show. Its reality and actions and words have consequences.