After Donald Trump has endured days of media backlash in a feud with the parents of a fallen U.S. solider of the Muslim faith, Republican generals are opting to leave a man behind. Rather than defend a fellow Republican from a Democrat hit machine, these Beltway debutants are kicking Trump while he is down.
Trump’s latest stand against political correctness started when Hillary Clinton invited the parents of U.S. Army Capt. Humayun Khan to address Democrat delegates in Philadelphia. The politics of the Khan invite was clear – Hillary wanted to use the grief of two parents to make a monster out of her rival. Khzir Khan, Humayun’s father, delivered.
In his speech, the elder Khan claimed Republican nominee Donald Trump had “sacrificed nothing and no one” and questioned whether Trump had read the Constitution. Khan did so as his wife stood silently by his side.
Khan’s speech was supposed to be a checkmate for Trump. Khan would paint his son as a war hero who would have been denied entry into the country under President Trump and Trump would have to sit there and take it because Khan’s grief would place Trump’s rebuttal off.
Trump, true to form, opted to rewrite the rules of the game. Trump hit Khan, and hit hard. Aside from questioning why his wife was silent, Trump began to stress that, because Clinton voted to authorize the war in Iraq as Senator, she laid the groundwork for Khan’s grief.
Media condemnation of Trump poured in. The conversation ceased to be about the real terror threats facing America and became about two parents. As the media unloaded, Trump stood firm because he knew that leaving the attacks unanswered would allow Clinton to uses the Khans as human shields against her failures.
Trump knew that such attacks had to stop or Democrats would continue to manipulate the media with emotional cover stories. Trump knew that the Khans were just the evolution of a longstanding Democrat con and the buck had to stop with him.
In the 1990s, Democrats routinely accused Republicans of wanting to starve schoolchildren, poison water tables, and deny senior citizens health coverage. Under President Obama, Republican opposition against amnesty was not just a disagreement, it was a sign that Republicans are enemies of the Hispanic community.
Khzir Khan was lifted from the same playbook. Clinton made him the poster child of everything wrong with Trump and the media eagerly spread the message. The same journalistic courtesy, however, was not afforded to Trump.
While the media protected Khan, it was not so kind to Patricia Smith. When Smith, the mother of American Sean Smith who was killed in Benghazi, talked of her feelings in Cleveland, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews said he didn’t care. The elites yawned.
Knowing he had a valid rebuke of Khan, Trump reached out to Republicans on Capitol Hill for reinforcements. What he got was a silent coup.
John McCain blasted Trump as Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan put a ten-foot pole between themselves on their nominee. Ryan went a step further and told a Koch Brothers’ gathering that he was in “the fight for the soul of our party.”
His opponent? From the context of his remarks it was Trump.
Republicans could have easily assisted Trump. Everyone understands why Clinton used the Khans in Philly. By shifting the focus off of her disastrous foreign policy and on to the raw emotion of grieving parents, she could get a pass. All Republicans had to do was point out that if Clinton had fought to prevent the Iraq war, the Khans may not be grieving today.
But how could establishment folks like Ryan and McCain do so when they, too, were part of the problem? How could they, when they agree more with Clinton than their own party’s nominee?
This, once again, illustrates all that is wrong with the GOP. Its problems are not about minority outreach, nor are they about softening a message. The Republican Party has suffered a crisis of conscience because its rank and file has picked behind the curtain to find that its party’s leaders are not that different from the opposite side.
Trump took a sledge hammer to the myth of a two party system and, for the first time in four election cycles, is providing Americans with a real choice. The only question is whether voters will be able to cut through the weeds to see it. For that reason, Trump must never back down.