I have mixed views on the speech by a Gold Star father, Khizr Khan, at the DNC convention. In my view, losing a son in combat doesn’t give you any special insights into foreign policy. And there is no doubt that Khan was trading upon his son’s death for political purposes and passing celebrity of the Cindy Sheehan variety. Adding to the degradation was the venue. It isn’t like the audience respected veterans or even understood the sacrifice. Most of the delegates in the audience that was cheering him on were also cheering on John Murtha’s “slow bleed” strategy of deliberately increasing the chances of American troops being killed in Iraq in order to win a policy dispute with George Bush.
As detestable as that spectacle was, it can’t compare to the ugly, nasty personal attacks on the Khans by a man who it running for president. Trump’s attacks are not only unmanly and disgusting they are politically stupid. In the words of Talleyrand, “it was worse than a crime, it was a blunder.”
Yesterday, we posted on Mike Pence’s increasingly frequent efforts to distance himself from the pathetic asshattery of the guy at the top of the ticket. About the time we were posting, Pence was going through another trial by fire at a rally in Carson City, Nevada. Pence was taking questions from the audience and this happened:
Mike Pence had only released a text statement in the more than 48 hours since Donald Trump questioned the mother and father of fallen U.S. soldier Humayun Khan.
He had avoided cameras and questions on Monday during his travels to Nevada after a weekend at home in Indianapolis.
But at a town hall in this Nevada town on Monday night, the Republican vice presidential nominee got the question — from a mother of an active Air Force staff sergeant:
“Time and time again Trump has disrespected our nation’s armed forces and veterans — and his disrespect for Mr. Khan and his family is just an example of that,” Catherine Byrne, the mother of Raymond Harmon, who is currently deployed in the Persian Gulf, said to Pence. “Will there ever be a point in time when you’re able to look Trump in the eye and tell him ‘Enough is enough?’ You have a son in the military. How do you tolerate his disrespect?”
Pence, from the stage just feet away from Byrne, continued in his response by saying “Let me just say first I want to honor your son’s service to the country and your family’s service to the country, I truly do.”
The Indiana governor went on to say that Captain Kahn is an “American hero and we honor him and honor his family.”
He then went on to claim that Trump supports veterans “like no other leader in my lifetime.”
Republican vice presidential candidate Gov. Mike Pence, R-Ind., addresses supporters during a campaign event in Carson City, Nev., Monday, Aug, 1, 2016. Lance Iversen / AP
“The only other thing I would say to you is having spent time with our nominee, I have never been around someone more devoted to the armed forces of this country, more devoted to the families of our soldiers, sailors, airmen, marine and coast guard and no one more devoted to the veterans in this country,” Pence said without any real evidence for such hyperbole. “Donald Trump supports our soldiers and supporters our veterans like no other leader in my lifetime.”
Let’s be clear. Her question was on target. Someone needs to tell Trump that this has gone too far. Especially if you want to see him elected. And she’s right about the disrespect. Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have an palpable contempt for members of the military and veterans. They tolerate them to the extent that they are useful props for their political or business ventures. The fact that this audience booed her for suggesting that Trump act like an adult shows that Trump’s supporters are mostly the cretinous churlish rabble you thought they were.
That Mike Pence continued to draw a distinction between himself and Trump on this issue is definitely to his credit but every time he does it simply reinforces the fact that Trump is temperamentally unsuited for any elective office. Sadly, by being on the same ticket as Trump, Pence was forced to consign his integrity and dignity to a lockbox in an undisclosed location in order to defend Trump’s indefensible behavior. He’d better develop a taste for personal degradation and beclowning because it will be a regular activity between now an November.