Video: Maher, Moore attack Trump for recognizing Ryan Owens’s wife during speech
The claim here is that Carryn Owens was treated like a “prop.” Question: Was Khizr Khan a prop? Hillary Clinton benefited politically far more directly from his cameo at the convention than Trump will from this four years from now. Follow-up question: Should Owens not have been invited to the speech? Once she accepted the invitation, should Trump have refrained from thanking her? According to Sean Spicer, he asked her permission beforehand to acknowledge her, which she granted. (“The president said he would like to raise this, and she said, ‘I would like that.’”) The problem with the “prop” argument, as Mary Katharine Ham explained last night, is that Carryn Owens isn’t a child. She wasn’t kidnapped. She chose to attend when no one would have blamed her for declining and she was palpably moved by the gratitude expressed by the audience. If she’s okay with what happened and you’re not, whose prop is she really?
The source of irritation among Trump’s critics, I think, is the fact that Ryan Owens’s father lambasted Trump in a Miami Herald story a few days ago for putting boots on the ground in Yemen needlessly, in his opinion. William Owens wouldn’t agree to meet Trump either when Ryan’s remains were returned to the United States. There are few political attacks more potent than the grieving family of a fallen soldier criticizing an official for incompetence that contributed to their loved one’s death, something with which both the left and the right have experience. The fact that Carryn Owens was willing to appear at Trump’s speech and accept the nation’s gratitude to her husband complicates the attack, though. It’s harder to turn Owens’s father into Cindy Sheehan if Ryan’s wife is in the gallery standing next to Ivanka Trump. That’s why she has to be called a “prop” — only if she’s blinded by grief, not thinking clearly, exploited by the White House can the “family blames Trump” narrative be preserved. If she has no agency of her own then her opinion doesn’t count.
There’s misinformation in both clips too. Moore sneers that Trump authorized the Yemen raid at dinner with his politically inexperienced son-in-law Jared Kushner. True. Also at the dinner but unmentioned: Joint Chiefs chairman Joe Dunford and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who had signed off on the raid two days before and who was, allegedly, enthusiastic about its game-changer potential against AQAP. As president, Trump bears ultimate responsibility for what went wrong in the raid but there’s nothing to support the idea that he forced it on an unwilling military. Military professionals, including professionals in the Obama administration, had developed the plan and approved it. The fact that it didn’t achieve its objectives (which is disputed) doesn’t mean it was ill-conceived. As for Maher, he hits Trump here for using Carryn Owens as the easiest possible applause line, saying, “Who wouldn’t stand and applaud for a war widow?” Well … Democrats, actually. See this post by Ben Shapiro tracking Democratic reaction in the chamber while the rest of the audience stood and cheered. Being part of “the Resistance” evidently means sitting on your hands even during moments that should transcend partisanship if it requires clapping for something that came out of Trump’s mouth.
Turns out the future of American politics is Van Jones as the voice of reason on the left. Good luck, everyone.