GOP reaction to Donald Trump’s McCain diss a lesson in hypocrisy

Delegates to the 2004 Republican National Convention thought it was hilarious to diss John Kerry's Vietnam war service with "pulple heart" Band-Aids.

Delegates to the 2004 Republican National Convention thought it was hilarious to smear John Kerry’s Vietnam war service with “pulple heart” Band-Aids.

So Donald Trump dismissed John McCain’s war record, and Republican heads exploded. You only wish Republicans could be honest and apologize for the way they smeared Democratic candidates with military credentials, too.

In case you missed the latest brouhaha, Arizona Sen. John McCain and presidential hopeful Donald Trump got into a bit of an online tiff when McCain criticized Trump for making inflammatory remarks about Mexican immigrants. McCain said Trump had “fired up the crazies.”

(Keep in mind, McCain is the candidate who chose former half-term Gov. $arah Palin as a running mate. Speaking of firing up the crazies. … But we digress.)

Trump responded like a pouty child with a tweet calling McCain a “dummy,” referencing McCain’s last-in-his-class standing at the U.S. Naval Academy. Then he compounded his foot-in-mouth remarks at an Iowa event with fellow presidential hopefuls by slamming McCain again.

“He’s a war hero because he was captured,” Trump said during an appearance at the Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa, referring to the years McCain spent as a prisoner of war after his Navy plane was shot down in 1967 in Vietnam. “I like people who weren’t captured. Perhaps he’s a war hero, but right now he’s said some very bad things about a lot of people.”

Trump’s comments provided an opening for others in the GOP to diss the Donald. Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, himself a veteran, said Trump’s remark made him unfit to be commander-in-chief. South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, another veteran and a close friend of McCain, echoed the sentiment that Trump was not presidential material. “If there was ever any doubt that he should not be the #GOP standard bearer, his growing mountain of stupid statements should end all doubt,” Graham tweeted.

Hey, when you’re as far back in the pack as they are, you do what you do in politics: You go after the front-runner. Trump gave them an opening, and he started being hit from all sides.

The Republican National Committee chimed in with “There is no place in our party or our country for comments that disparage those who have served honorably.”

Oh, really. Let’s look back at how the RNC — indeed, many of these very same Republicans — treated the 2002 Democratic candidate for Georgia senator, incumbent Sen. Max Cleland, and the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry.

Max Cleland lost both legs and his right arm fighting in Vietnam. He was awarded a Purple Heart, a Silver Star, a Bronze Star, and several other medals for his service. He went into politics in Georgia and became a staunch advocate for veterans.

As the incumbent senator, Cleland was leading in the polls in 2002 until his Republican opponent, Saxby Chambliss, started questioning his patriotism, criticizing Cleland for “breaking his oath to protect and defend the Constitution” over a vote on an amendment to the Chemical Weapons Treaty. Chambliss ran a now-infamous ad juxtaposing pictures of Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein with Cleland, all the while making a false claim that Cleland was trying to thwart President George W. Bush’s attempts to set up the Department of Homeland Security.

Chambliss, who said he didn’t serve in Vietnam because of a “bad knee,” won the election by six percentage points.

In 2004, Texas billionaire Harold Simmons bankrolled a series of ads hitting John Kerry’s service in Vietnam, for which Kerry was awarded a Purple Heart, a Silver Star, and a Bronze Star. The ads from the group called the “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” featured people who claimed to be serving with John Kerry in Vietnam, claiming that Kerry had lied about his service. In truth, most of the men in the ads were nowhere near Kerry during his service. Of course, Kerry lost to Bush, who was suspended from the Texas Air National Guard.

“There is no place in our party or our country for comments that disparage those who have served honorably.” That’s true, RNC.

I guess now we’ll see news stories soon with you and all of the other Republicans who wore purple heart-shaped Band-Aids on their faces during the 2004 Republican National Convention apologizing to the people of America for your disgraceful attacks on these two men.

And you might as well put Bush’s vice president, Dick Cheney, with his five deferments, as the first in line to start the apologies.


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