Over the weekend, America’s leading huckster decided to denigrate the service of Senator John McCain (R-AZ) as part of an escalating feud with the senator. Via Jazz:

“He’s not a war hero,” Trump, a Republican running for president, said of McCain. “I like people that weren’t captured. “He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured.”

McCain’s response this morning is pure class — and quite the stark contrast to Trump’s self-aggrandizing, huckster “campaign.” From Morning Joe:

Asked on MSNBC’s Morning Joe if Trump owes him an apology, McCain responded: “No, I don’t think so. But I think he may owe an apology to the families of those who have sacrificed in conflict and those who have undergone the prison experience in serving their country.”

“There are so many men, and some women, who served and sacrificed and happened to be held prisoner and somehow to denigrate that, in any way, their service I think is offensive,” he added.

And that’s not all:

McCain said during the exclusive interview with MSNBC that it is his senior officers during the Vietnam War who should be viewed as heroes, not him.

“A great honor of my life was to serve in the company of heroes. I’m not a hero,” he said.

McCain also declined to attack Trump for avoiding service in the Vietnam War through a series of deferments.

“For me to look back in anger at anyone is nonproductive,” he said. “And our country was divided in an almost unprecedented fashion during the Vietnam War, and when I came home I was shocked. So I’ve worked ever since to try to heal those wounds.”

I don’t think anyone at Hot Air is a fan of how McCain has handled his political career. He has supported rewarding immigrants who break America’s laws, he has classlessly and uncharitably attacked conservatives, and he sees no problem with unconstitutional military attacks on other nations. His 2008 campaign was a disaster, he bailed out the banks, and he brought in an unqualified person to be his vice-presidential candidate. (Yes, Sarah Palin was more qualified than Barack Obama to be VP or president, but that’s a pretty low bar.)

But McCain’s war hero status is well-earned. My good friend RJ Caster, a military buff and the son of a colonel whose intentions to serve his country were derailed when he couldn’t obtain a medical waiver, put it well this morning on Facebook:

He flew combat missions in war. That is a form of courage that contributes to heroism. He was shot down and tortured, and refused to give away secrets. That is courage. He stayed in Hanoi Hilton after being offered release because his men would not be able to leave.

Trump, who in 2012 criticized Romney for allegedly being too tough on immigration policy, is the epitome of a crony capitalist and personal opportunist. As Hot Air founder Michelle Malkin highlighted in 2011, Trump is no free-market businessman; he’s a noted huckster who has used his money to bully and harass those who would get in the way of his self-aggrandizement — constitutional rights be damned. He’s also gone bankrupt at least four times, which puts the lie to his claim of being a leader in business.

Yesterday, Trump doubled down on his McCain comments in an op-ed for USA TODAY, writing that “McCain the politician has failed the state of Arizona and the country.” That’s true, but let’s call this situation what it is: Trump is simply grandstanding, and taking anything he says seriously is an error.

Update (Dustin): RJ made me aware that his father was a lieutenant-colonel, not a full-bird colonel. My error on that.

To respond to a couple of commenters:

1. I read Attkisson’s fact-check before writing the post, and I don’t believe she proved that media representation of Trump’s initial comments was dishonest.

2. I forgot to note that by attacking McCain as he did, Trump also disparaged anyone who has been captured in combat or in other arenas of warfare.

3. McCain often acts in a classless fashion towards conservatives, and his political “service” has been atrocious. But in this case, he acted with tremendous class (as opposed to last week, when he attacked those who went to a Trump rally).

4. I stand by my opinion of Trump as a huckster — an opinion held by such liberals as Michelle Malkin.