Over the weekend, Donald Trump not only defied one of the biggest no-nos in America political culture, he smashed it over the head and literally urinated on it. Speaking to at the Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa, Trump astonishingly questioned John McCain’s war hero credentials, saying to the audience:
He’s not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.
This unfathomably offensive statement about McCain has enraged pretty much the entire nation given the Senator’s enormous sacrifice to his country. Whether or not you agree with the Vietnam War, think John McCain is a good person, or agree with his politics, there can be no denying the courage he showed after being captured by the Vietnamese in 1967. McCain spent five-and-half years in a brutal Vietnamese prison known as the “Hanoi Hilton” where he was tortured relentlessly, beaten within an inch of his life, left in solitary confinement for two years, and pushed to the point where he attempted suicide. McCain also refused to go home when a deal was made for his release because he did not think it fair he went while his fellow prisoners stayed.
For Trump, a man who may well have dodged the draft and lead a life of unimaginable luxury due to his rich father, to attack someone with McCain’s credentials is, at least from a conventional point of view, breathtakingly stupid. The entire GOP 2016 field has denounced Trump, with the following types of withering criticisms:
America’s POWs deserve much better than to have their service questioned by the offensive rantings of Donald Trump
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) July 18, 2015
— Rick Perry (@GovernorPerry) July 18, 2015
If there was ever any doubt that @realDonaldTrump should not be our commander in chief, this stupid statement should end all doubt.
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) July 18, 2015
Despite Trump continually offending everyone in America, voters appear to be lapping it up. Trump is actually surging in the polls and leading the other candidates as the favorite to win the Republican nomination for next year. Trump’s bullish strategy of speaking before thinking isn’t just appealing to voters, it also seems to be unsettling the other candidates who aren’t used to someone on their own side talking so much smack.
Speaking in New Hampshire recently, Donald Trump told his supporters:
“They’re all talk [the Republicans], they’re no action…I’m more disappointed in many ways with the Republicans. They have this great indignation, whether it’s Benghazi or the emails… nothing ever happens.
Trump is completely right about this, but given Republican supporters pay no attention to liberals when they point this out, Trump’s voice carries a great deal more weight. Hardcore Republican voters instinctively know that the current crop of ninnies lining up to become President are paper tigers who have moaned and whined about Obama but had little effect on him. Obama has played the GOP brilliantly (mostly by ignoring them and allowing them to be themselves), making conservative voters angrier and angrier about his political victories. While Trump is criticizing them for completely the wrong reason, he has told the truth about how useless they are – an issue voters on both sides of the political spectrum can agree on.
Trump attacked John McCain and any other Republican who dares stand in his way because he perceives them to be weak and ineffective. He has survived making a ridiculously stupid presidential announcement speech, survived labeling Latinos as being criminals and racists, and survived berating his own party in public on numerous occasions. While many have predicted Trump will crash and burn (including this writer), Trump appears to be getting stronger and stronger the less he gives a damn what anyone thinks.
Going after John McCain was truly an unforgivable sin, yet nothing seems to be coming back to bite Trump other than some businesses refusing to do work with him. There haven’t been any poll numbers taken since Trump made his statement about McCain, but if his numbers don’t move too much, the GOP establishment should start to worry – and very, very seriously. Donald Trump has an insane amount of money to back up his outlandish statements, and he can keep going and going without worrying about running out of money.
“I’m the most successful person ever to run for the presidency, by far,” Trump told Des Moines Register a few weeks back. “Nobody’s ever been more successful than me. I’m the most successful person ever to run. Ross Perot isn’t successful like me. Romney – I have a Gucci store that’s worth more than Romney.” Sadly, Trump is not lying, with assets somewhere in the range of $5-10 billion. In Trump’s world, that type of money makes a man a God. Services to ones country, a life dedicated to politics, great works of charity etc etc do not compute as success in Trump’s eyes – it is just money, and who has the most. To him, John McCain and all the other Republicans never became billionaires so they are mere mortals not worthy of competing with him. Despite the national outcry, Trump is not interested in what anyone thinks about him, because in his world, no one has the right to challenge him.
Despite his success, Donald Trump is a grotesque caricature of a Republican who is only relevant because of the increasingly deranged and toxic culture of the GOP. The Republican Party created the conditions for him to go mainstream and now he is eating them alive and using their own tactics agains them. It is a fitting tale for a party that built its power on fear and ignorance, and a lesson to the GOP that you get exactly what you ask for.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.