The ongoing effort to paint Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump as an enemy of American veterans is nothing new. In fact, it follows the typical Democratic Party playbook for the last several elections.
In 2008, for example, Sen, John McCain (R-AZ) was taken completely by surprise when then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), gave his first major speech after securing his party’s presidential nomination, and used it to lambaste McCain, a former prisoner of war, over veterans’ issues.
McCain was personally offended, and reacted angrily: “I take a backseat to no one in my affection, respect and devotion to veterans. And I will not accept from Senator Obama, who did not feel it was his responsibility to serve our country in uniform, any lectures on my regard for those who did.”
But the Obama campaign stuck to its line of attack, hitting McCain where he was strongest, knocking the McCain campaign off balance and forcing it to reach out to veterans to soothe fears. (Obama supporters also mocked McCain’s war injuries and suggested he was too old and senile to serve. There was little pushback from the media, which cheered the attacks.)
The Obama re-election campaign used similar tactics in 2012 against Republican nominee Mitt Romney. The late Beau Biden told a campaign event in Scranton, Pennsylvania: “They have the audacity to try to push through tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires who aren’t asking for it and don’t need it on the backs of veterans because they want to cut $11 billion in year one [in the] Romney-Ryan budget [in veterans spending].”
Veterans tend to be conservative, but Democrats see them as vulnerable because they utilize a variety of federal government services. That is not to say Democrats care about improving those services once in office: Obama took a struggling Veterans Affairs hospital system and made it even worse. But the strategy is always the same: cover up the Democrats’ own disregard for the troops — visible in the heckling of veterans at the Democratic National Convention last week — with attacks on a core Republican constituency.
Trump’s did himself no favors with his harsh reaction to criticism by the Khan family. But it is the same attack Democrats always use, and it always yields the same result for veterans: nothing.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. His new book, See No Evil: 19 Hard Truths the Left Can’t Handle, is available from Regnery through Amazon. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.