The Journal calls it Trump’s attempt to make peace with the GOP after two days of heavy breathing over the McCain comments. It’s not an apology, but Mediaite is right that it’s probably as close as he gets to an apology. Which is good, because only RINOs apologize.

He insists here that he didn’t really say what everyone heard him say this past weekend about McCain, which is interesting given that Trump fans have spent the last three days claiming that what he said was correct. Trump keeps pointing in interviews to this “fact check” by Sharyl Attkisson, who took issue with WaPo’s characterization of Trump’s remarks. It’s not true, notes Attkisson, that Trump said “McCain was not a war hero because he was captured.” He said he was a war hero because he was captured. That’s right — and that was obviously sarcasm, which is why Trump fans enjoyed it so much. Go watch the clip yourself, which takes all of 15 seconds but which Attkisson never links to. Trump starts by saying McCain’s not a hero, then he tries to roll out his wiseguy remark about being captured and gets halfway through the sentence before Frank Luntz interrupts him by mentioning McCain’s five and a half years in captivity. So Trump starts over: He’s a war hero — because he got captured. He’s mocking the idea of celebrating someone who ended up in enemy hands by supposedly screwing up in getting shot down. WaPo recognized his sarcasm and relayed Trump’s point accurately. The reason their characterization of his remarks used the opposite of the actual words Trump used is because, guess what, that’s how sarcasm works. If you want to defend his original comments as not having been a shot at McCain, at least focus on the bit at the very end, after his wiseguy point, where he allowed that “perhaps” McCain is a hero.

Everyone, most of all his own fans, knew what Trump meant, and it had nothing to do with McCain’s alleged callousness to veterans’ issues, which itself is a dubious claim. Peter Spiliakos sums it up:

One of the things I hear from Trump supporters is that he tells it like it is. Whether it is promising to get Mexico to pay for a border fence, or saying that McCain was not a war hero for enduring torture rather than accepting special privileges, or later pretending that his McCain comments were about Trump’s deep interest in the welfare of underserved veterans, it is obvious that Trump doesn’t tell it like it is, and that some of his fans like that about him.

Trump’s rhetoric is about wounding people that his fans despise. It doesn’t have to be true, and, on some level they can accept collateral damage inflicted on others. Trump’s McCain comment was a collective insult against POWs who served honorably, but Trump’s fans also know it was intended to insult one politician and his media enablers. Nothing personal, all you other POWs. Likewise, his promise to get Mexico to pay for a border fence is the inverse of a bipartisan political establishment that pretends building a border fence is some kind of physical responsibility.

He meant to denigrate McCain but he he took so much flak for it later that he felt obliged to pretend that he’d said something else. (Apologizing wasn’t an option, of course.) Pretty straightforward. Can we all settle down about l’affaire Maverick now? I mean, I realize Rick Perry’s eager to get a foothold in the polls, but c’mon:

Trump and Putin are night and day, buddy. After all, the latter’s worth a lot more than the former is.