The GOP nominee professes his love for veterans, but he has a long history of disrespecting them.
AUG 1, 2016
Just when you think he can’t go any lower, Donald Trump goes there.
The most powerful moment of the Democratic convention occurred when Khizr Khan attacked Trump for putting forward proposals, such as his ban on Muslims entering the country, that insult the memory of Khan’s son, a U.S. Army captain who died in Iraq. “Let me ask you, have you even read the United States Constitution?” Khan asked, adding that Trump “has sacrificed nothing and no one.”
Instead of offering anodyne words of appreciation for the Khan family’s loss, Trump went into attack mode. He issued a statement: “Mr. Khan who has never met me, has no right to stand in front of millions of people and claim I have never read the Constitution, (which is false) and say many other inaccurate things.” Trump claims to have read the Constitution, yet just a few weeks ago he pledged to defend the 12th Article — even though there are only seven Articles.
In an amazing interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, Trump went on to say that “I think I’ve made a lot of 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.” By this comment Trump shows that he literally doesn’t know what “sacrifice” means. For him a sacrifice is flying first-class rather than taking his own private airplane.
Trump also suggested that because the Khans are Muslims, Khizr Khan’s wife was forced to stand mutely at his side at the Democratic convention. “If you look at his wife, she was standing there,” he said, “She had nothing to say…Maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say. You tell me.” Ghazala Khan powerfully refuted this calumny in interviews and an op-ed in which she explained that reason for his silence: “Walking onto the convention stage, with a huge picture of my son behind me, I could hardly control myself. What mother could? Donald Trump has children whom he loves. Does he really need to wonder why I did not speak?”
As if these attacks were not enough, Roger Stone Jr., a political consultant who has a long history with Trump but apparently is not employed by his campaign at the moment, suggested that Khizr Khan is an agent of the Muslim Brotherhood. Trump has not yet disavowed this false and reckless accusation that reeks of the worst excesses of McCarthysim.
Even before Stone’s off-the-wall accusation, Trump’s insensitive comments had caused a backlash, but no one should be surprised that he said what he did. In spite of his claims to love “the veterans,” he has been disrespecting our military for years.
In the 1990s he tried to ban disabled veterans from working as vendors in front of Trump Tower, because he thought their presence was an eyesore. In a 1997 interview with Howard Stern, Trump, who avoided the draft with a dubious medical claim, said he felt like “a great and very brave soldier” for avoiding sexually transmitted diseases. He likened the New York dating scene to “my personal Vietnam.” A year ago Trump began his campaign by denying that John McCain, who spent five and a half years in hellish captivity, was a hero: “I like people that weren’t captured.”
Trump can’t tell the difference between the Quds Force and the Kurds, but he claims “I know more about ISIS than the generals do. Believe me.” He has vowed to make soldiers carry out torture and indiscriminate bombing in violation of the laws of war. He has called the U.S. military a “disaster” and accused soldiers who served in Iraq of stealing millions of dollars.
Trump has threatened to pull U.S. troops out of countries such as South Korea and Japan where they have been stationed for decades. And he has said that NATO, an alliance that generations of American soldiers have served in, is “obsolete.”
Trump’s comments reveal that he does not understand and does not appreciate what American troops do or why they do it. And little wonder. The West Point motto is “Duty, Honor, Country.” If Trump had a motto, it would be: “Me, me, me.”
Yet while denigrating the military, Trump masquerades as a champion of veterans. In late January, in order to avoid a Republican debate, he held a nationally televised fundraiser for veterans. He claimed to have raised $6 million, including $1 million from his own pocket. Yet reporters found no record of any donations. Trump did not write a $1 million check until being hounded by the press for four months.
It’s good to see Republicans like Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, and John McCain issuing statements in support of the Khans. But they will only show they are serious about disavowing Trump’s attacks on the military if they withdraw their endorsements.