Saturday, July 18, 2015

The clown has ceased to amuse

I thought that the Donald had no further lines to cross, but he found one. He tried to cross it, and he tripped.
Appearing on Saturday at the Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa, the real estate mogul took his running feud with Arizona Sen. John McCain to a new level.

“He’s not a war hero,” said Trump. “He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”
I disagree with Senator McCain on many issues. In recent years, his bellicosity and neocon tendencies have struck me as wrongheaded and even repellent. But I still respect the man, and I would never disparage his service in Vietnam.

Of course McCain is a hero. Anyone who says otherwise is an idiot.

(Well, let's add one exception to that rule: There have been philosophers who would argue that the very concept of heroism is wrongheaded. Although I don't agree with that position, I'm always up for a good abstract argument of that sort. Sophistry is fun. But speaking in everyday, down-to-earth terms, I do believe that heroes exist, and that John McCain is one of them. Besides, Donald Trump ain't no philosopher.)

Heretofore, I've enjoyed Trump's surge in the polls: He is one of America's classic clowns. Had he pursued a more respectable career path as a professional entertainer, he might have ranked with Burt Lahr, Jackie Gleason, Curly Howard and Oliver Hardy.

But this shit isn't funny.

I'm trying to think of something more offensive Trump could do. Perhaps he could favor us with a striptease during one of the debates? Or maybe a display of public defecation? After today, he'll have to do something really extreme if he wants to top himself.


Stephen Morgan said...

His position seems to be that winning is heroic while getting captured and living at the mercy of the enemy is cowardly. Like a Klingon, McCain should have killed himself to escape the dishonour. You'd think someone who'd been through so many bankruptcies would understand the value of failure and triumph over adversity.

I don't know much about McCain's military record, but I'm not inclined to consider someone a hero for fighting in an unjust war or for being captured. The draft dodgers would be more my cup of tea. Not the Bush and Cheney type who engineer alternative assignments and deferments, real draft dodgers. Like those conshies who were executed rather than fight the Kaiser in my own country. Following orders is never really heroic, it's always the easy way out, even when the order is suicidal.

Joseph Cannon said...

Stephen, we have to admit that soldiers throughout history, in many armies, in many parts of the world, have performed acts of heroism, bravery and courage. Often -- more often than not, perhaps -- they have done so while fighting for leaders who were unworthy of their efforts and their sacrifice. If you do something extraordinary while fighting in a war that should never have begun, is your act any less extraordinary?

We are dealing with a bit of a paradox, I confess. Inevitably, this argument gets us into morally difficult territory. Can we say that a German soldier in Stalingrad performed bravely, even heroically? An Italian soldier in Ethiopia?

I think that most people would admit that Napoleon's troops did some amazing things during the invasion of Russia. Some of those poor bastards literally walked so much that the bones in their feet started to crumble. The fact that they had no right to be there does not erase their heroism.

That said, it's a lot easier -- a lot less morally complex -- to say that the Russians who fought under Kutusov were heroic, since they were the ones who sacrificed themselves on behalf of a just cause.

Anonymous said...

Is it possible Donald Trump is a Trojan horse trying to sabotage the Republican party's election chances? Or is the truth that he is simply an idiot?

Muffin said...

Trump's position is that of the WWII Japanese who believed that to die in battle was honorable, while surviving by allowing oneself to be captured alive was a disgrace.
Aside from that, John McCain is a worthless shitbag who set fire to the USS Forrestal, killing 134 sailors and injuring 161 more because he thought he was a hotshot pilot who could show off before others and initiate a "hot start" of his fighter plane with live ammo on board his own plane and those behind him. The rest of McCain's military career consisted of crashing 5 navy aircraft and earning the nickname "Songbird" from his North Vietnamese captors while he was incarcerated. If he hadn't been the son and grandson of US admirals, he probably would have spent 30 years in a military prison for nearly sinking the vessel he was assigned to.
After returning from Vietnam and realizing his military career was at a dead end, McCain divorced his wife while she was being treated in a hospital (classy guy) and then married a wealthy Jewess who was related to the billionaire Bronfman family of Canada, the owners of Seagram's distilleries. They have financed his political career ever since, as long as he remains more loyal to Israel than Bibi Netanyahu. The founding father of the Bronfman empire was head of the World Jewish Congress. McCain has been working hard to keep up ever since, going so far as to visit and endorse Islamic terrorists financed by Israel and calling for more US support for the criminal regime in Ukraine created by Zionist activists in the US State Department. Johnny has been a busy boy, and he has done more damage to the US military than any member of Al Quaeda or ISIS. He also sang in public "Bomb, bomb, Iran", overtrumping (no pun) Hillary Clinton. But he's a hero.

Anonymous said...

You know, a lot of us have fucking had it with John McCain. We don't trust a word that comes out of his mouth. No not one word. And this creep has gotten a LOT of milage out of his time as a war prisoner; far more, for example, than John Kerry who won a fucking Purple Heart.

Could a man of despicable character in civilian life have been a hero in war? Perhaps, but the question isn't as settled as you make it sound.

In my books, to be a "war hero" in requires evidence of selflessness during combat. Serving your country in uniform oversesas doesn't make you a war hero. Being in prison a long time doesn't necessarily qualify one as a war hero either. I would argue Trump's real mistake was overlooking that McCain has been recognized for trying to save a life prior to his time in prison. By that account, he's clearly a hero, ASSUMING the reported account of the fire on the USS Forrestal is credible. As a politician, McCain has exhibited sufficiently duplicitous and truly WICKED behavior (trying to stir up a war here, a war there) that questioning the actual facts of his war years is not unreasonable, even if it may not be popular (or considered in good taste) to do so. Most veterans are not war-mongers. In public life, the man is a fucking disgrace to all veterans.

Questions have been raised about the McCain legend, and Trump is likely alluding to them:

"So who is the real John McCain? A credible case has been made that McCain may have crossed the line and collaborated extensively while a prisoner in North Vietnam. His subsequent actions to block any inquiry into the status of possible POWs have also been examined in some detail and quite reasonably questioned. Many journalists and former government officials have long been aware of McCain’s possible misrepresentation of his deportment in Hanoi even if the story has not exactly made the front pages. The Pentagon reportedly has recordings of McCain’s radio broadcasts, which could be released if the Senator allows the Department of Defense to do so."

Trump's attack on McCain was perhaps extremely foolish politically, but because he was attacking a media icon, it was also brave. Maybe even a little heroic.

Anonymous said...

The idea that the Vietnamese called McCain the "songbird" is a scurrilous, Swift Boat-level lie.

As for his plane crashes, though, there's lots of murkiness there. Seems he was a reckless pilot. But I don't really care to do any research on it, because the subject bores me. I cared about McCain in 2008 - in the sense that he was a presidential candidate and I desperately didn't want him to get elected - and blessedly I haven't had to give a rat's ass since.

I'm sad about what Trump said. I was hoping he'd be more of a contender and irradiate the Republican primary. Now he's gonna implode.

Stephen Morgan said...

It's not so much the unjustness of the cause that makes me doubt the heroism of these heroes. It's the fact that they aren't operating under their own free will and therefore don't deserve credit any more than those half-wit foot-soldiers at Abu Ghraib should have been blamed for what they did.

People, reprehensibly, give up their will to others. Some heroes can even have no conscious will at all, like Voytek the bear, or Gander the dog, recipient of the Dickin medal. Most recipients of the Dickin medal have been pigeons. I do no accept the possibility of a heroic pigeon. Dogs, maybe. Horses, perhaps. The one cat that won it, won it for catching rats "under fire", but that's just what nature has programmed them to do, and humans in a herd are the same thing and are no more heroic than a pigeon. Those who exercise their will are a different matter.

Gareth said...

The word hero has little meaning anymore in the "Homeland". Anyone who puts on a uniform is now a hero. McCain has never had a problem questioning the patriotism of other Americans when it served him to use them as punching bags to score political points. McCain and Trump deserve each other.

Pat in Michigan said...

I've had issues with you in the past. But, you are absolutely correct on this one.

Anonymous said...

McCain is as much a hero as any SS officer captured in Russia during WWII was a hero...
Trump is an idiot, but there is nothing scandalous in saying that being captured surely does not make one a hero - especially in an openly imperial war like Vietnam. Calling McCain a hero is a sloppy attempt to whitewash this criminal war.