On Saturday, 2016 presidential candidate and business mogul Donald Trump, angered by John McCain’s (R-AZ) derogatory slam at immigration hardliners as “crazies,” said that McCain wasn’t a war hero: “He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.” The slam was apparently an awkward, Michael Scott-like adaptation of a 2008 Chris Rock routine.
A few seconds later, in typical Trump fashion, he half-bought back the comments, adding, “Perhaps he’s a war hero, but right now he said some very bad things about a lot of people.”
By Sunday, all hell had broken loose. The media, spotting a way to add a new angle to their hackneyed “Trump hates Mexicans” routine, now ran to accuse Trump of hating veterans. His fellow Republican candidates spotted an opportunity to marginalize the early poll leader. And not just marginalize – disqualify. Governor Rick Perry (R-TX) wrote at National Review:
As a veteran and the son of a veteran, I find Mr. Trump’s brand of vitriol particularly offensive, and I have no confidence that he could adeptly lead our nation’s armed forces. His comments over the weekend should completely and immediately disqualify him from seeking our nation’s highest office.
Marco Rubio (R-FL) told CNN’s Jake Tapper, “It’s not just absurd, it’s offensive, it’s ridiculous, and I do think it’s a disqualifier as commander-in-chief.”
Lindsey Graham (R-SC) added, “This is a line he’s crossed, and this is the beginning of the end of Donald Trump. … I am really pissed.”
Slow down, there, hoss. No doubt Trump crossed the line when he went after McCain’s war record; McCain clearly is a war hero, and Trump’s ridiculous attack on him deserves all the scorn Americans can muster. Already, Trump has seen a dropoff in his support level in the polls, although early polls aggregated the period before his anti-McCain comments. But is anyone supposed to be surprised by the fact that Donald Trump has a big mouth? Are we supposed to throw up our hands and drag out the fainting couch upon learning that Trump’s brain-mouth filter is inoperative?
More importantly, are we truly going to talk about disqualification of candidates based on misguided and idiotic lines of attack?
Those attacking Trump seem to suggest a propriety to presidential politics that simply does not exist. In 2008, Barack Obama’s campaign ran an ad against McCain ripping McCain for his inability to use a computer – an inability springing from his wartime injuries. In 2012, an Obama-associated super PAC accused Mitt Romney of firing an employee, causing him to lose his health insurance, leading that employee’s wife to die of cancer.
Presidential politics, it appears, ain’t beanbag.
And so long as we’re discussing disqualifiers in a presidential race, shouldn’t we begin with actual policy? Jeb Bush, currently polling second in the Republican race, opposes the Republican Party position on Common Core, thinks President Obama’s executive amnesty should only be rolled back if done simultaneous with a comprehensive immigration reform package passed by Congress, and ripped Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker for saying he’d kill President Obama’s Iran deal on his first day as president. Are these disqualifiers?
How about Senator Rubio, whose promiscuity with immigration reform positions has dogged him throughout the campaign? How about the fact that Rubio, along with Bush, has opposed an amendment that would overturn the Supreme Court’s absurd decision mandating state-sanctioned same-sex marriage across America? How about the fact that Rubio, like Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rand Paul (R-KY), voted in favor of the asinine bill from Bob Corker (R-TN) that allowed President Obama’s Iran deal to become law so long as Republicans can’t muster a supermajority to overcome a presidential veto?
How about Trump himself, who has repeatedly stood in favor of nationalized healthcare, attacked Mitt Romney on immigration from the left in 2012, gave money to the Clinton Foundation, called George W. Bush “so incompetent, so bad, so evil,” and endorsed a wealth tax?
Or how about the other side of the aisle, where former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who has deleted tens of thousands of emails from her private server, stored classified information on that server, presided over the murder of four Americans in Benghazi, and laughed off her defense of a child rapist – among her other myriad failures, including her pathetic sham marriage, complete with a husband who visited a major donor’s Sex Slave Island – continues to lead the other Democratic candidates, with the media fawning over her lackluster campaign?
How about Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who once wrote an essay suggesting women fantasized about being raped, honeymooned in the USSR, and openly represents socialism? He’s got Democrats chanting about “feeling the Bern.”
Perhaps Martin O’Malley, the former Maryland governor who, over the weekend, told a radio show titled This Week in Blackness that he should never have said “all lives matter” rather than “black lives matter”? Of course not.
Only Trump must be disqualified, supposedly because he said something people don’t like about John McCain. GOP insiders attempt to dump Trump because Trump derives his support from two qualities other Republicans seem pathologically incapable of mimicking: he’s unapologetic, and he’s impolitic. It’s hard to battle for the nomination with an unstable quantity. So instead, they’ll use those qualities to undo him, pressing their advantage when he doubles down on an unjustifiably gross statement.
People shouldn’t like what Trump said about John McCain, and they’ll show it at the ballot box. But when other Republican candidates talk about Trump being “disqualified” from the campaign, that’s a step too far. There’s a reason no Democrat has attempted to disqualify any other – they realize that in the end, that Democrat may win the nomination, and they’ll be forced to stand in line behind him or her. Republicans, however, are so busy disqualifying each other that they forget their rivals in the Democratic Party are hell-bent on implementing a destructive vision of the country.
Trump may disqualify himself, but that will be up to voters. If Republicans trust their own constituencies, they should spend less time trying to pre-emptively knock Trump out of the race based on patently stupid and nasty statements, and more time trying to figure out just why Trump seems to be catching on.
Ben Shapiro is Senior Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the book, The People vs. Barack Obama: The Criminal Case Against The Obama Administration (Threshold Editions, June 10, 2014). Follow Ben Shapiro on Twitter @benshapiro.