If you’ve been following the news this weekend at all you probably saw this story already. Unfortunately, the whole world will have seen it shortly. But in case it needs repeating, Donald Trump took to the podium in Iowa and finally picked the wrong fight… and one he will likely not recover from.
“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, of course, was the Republican nominee for president in 2008.
In 1973, John McCain wrote a first-person account of being shot down over Vietnam and held in prison for over five years. You can read it here. Trump graduated from college in 1968, but avoided serving in Vietnam.
After the nation basically finished exploding and the media pressed him on it, Trump tried to walk that one back while still adding qualifiers, essentially saying that at least McCain was more of a hero than Bowe Bergdahl. Too little, too late. In fact, nothing at that point was going to be sincere enough or soon enough. This is a place where you simply can not go if you wish to be the leader of the free world.
I know that many members of his own party have issues with John McCain’s politics. I’ve had more than a few myself. And there were plenty of us who weren’t exactly wild about his selection as the nominee against Barack Obama in 2008. (Yes, yes… that’s putting it mildly, I’m sure.) But John McCain served his country when duty called and did so to the limit, barely short of giving the last full measure of devotion. After being shot down over enemy territory he endured things which most of us can thankfully not even imagine, to say nothing of surviving ourselves. The man is a war hero above and beyond even the most revered definition of the term.
I will not pretend to know what’s been up with Donald Trump from the beginning of this road show he’s currently on. Perhaps he truly wanted to be President. Perhaps it was all part of his ongoing circus. Only the man himself can know which when he looks in the mirror each day. But this is one gigantic bridge too far. Whether he said that out of ignorance, a desire to cause a stir or – and I pray this isn’t true – because he really feels that way, I am done with him. Completely and absolutely done. Anyone who can allow those words to pass their lips is not fit to command our armed forces and is either too stupid, too oblivious or just too unamerican to serve as President of these United States.
Speaking only as one veteran who survived absolutely nothing compared to Senator McCain, I will close with a simple message. Goodbye, Mr. Trump. Your little show has been entertaining to say the least and, in your own way, you spurred some aspects of the national debate which needed a boost. But the sooner you exit the stage the better. You shall have no vote from me in any election, primary or general.