Will Republicans finally wake up with Trump's vicious attack on a Gold Star Family? Covered in a shame that he is incapable of recognizing, the Republican candidate for president, Donald Trump, denigrates the parents of a military officer killed in action for speaking their mind. Not only did Trump attack the Gold Star mother but also questioned her religion and sacrifice.
All veterans should be horrified. Gold Star families sacrificed on a scale too many of us can only imagine. Is nothing sacred? If any group has achieved a status that deserves nothing but respect, it is gold star families. Agreement is not required but vicious personal attacks that double down on their pain and grief should never be condoned. The Khans, and Gold Star families, are the people who represent all our sacrifices in service to the country. How has it come to this? Veterans should be withdrawing their support of Trump in droves. The Republican Party is to blame. They, long ago, abandoned military values.
Just as candidate Trump arose from the slime of racism, misogyny and ignorance that has festered in the Republican Party for so very long, so too did his words and views towards military veterans. Trump is a chickenhawk who neither understands nor respects the military values of service and dedication to a greater good. The Republican Party steadily drifted into this hostility to veterans and military service, all the while praising us.
My first awareness of the growing Republican disdain for the military, veterans and their families was during the 2002 Georgia race for senate. Senator Max Cleland, a man I admire and consider a friend, is a wounded Vietnam War veteran, triple amputee who holds Silver and Bronze Stars for courageous actions in combat. Yet, his opponent viciously questioned both Senator Cleland's patriotism and service. The Republicans won that senate seat and learned that in their search for power, it was an open season on military heroes.
In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee during the run up to the Iraq invasion, General Shinseki answered a question from the committee:
A spokesman for General Shinseki, Col. Joe Curtin, said today that the general stood by his estimate. ''He was asked a question and he responded with his best military judgment,'' Colonel Curtin said. General Shinseki is a former commander of the peacekeeping operation in Bosnia.
A firestorm of administration criticism engulfed the general for honestly providing his best military judgment that far more troops were required to successfully pacify and reorganize Iraq. Although subsequent events proved the General correct, his career was ended. Lack of respect for the military, apparently played well with a Republican base once thought to be very pro-military.
In the 2004 presidential campaign, a new word entered the American vocabulary - swiftboating: telling lies and denigrating a political candidate's military service for political gain. Democratic Presidential Candidate John Kerry, who received the Silver and Bronze Stars as well as three Purple Hearts, was viciously slandered and his service under fire denigrated. The Republicans learned well from the Cleland race. Republican admiration for the military and veterans fell so low that delegates to the Republican national convention sported Band-Aids printed with little purple hearts mocking both the medal and John Kerry's service.
Congressman Jack Murtha, another decorated military veteran and a powerful congressman received the same targeted assault on his military service when he called for the US withdrawal from Iraq. Clearly, Republicans would not hesitate to attack the heroic military service of any opponent. Gone is respect for national service and for the military.
Donald Trump followed a well-worn path that was paved over a decade ago with Republican disrespect for military service and values. Republicans pretended horror when Trump attacked John McCain, military hero and former POW, with the reference that Trump's heroes do not get captured. To rub salt into the wounds Trump inflicted on the heavily tortured Senator McCain, Trump tormented McCain by announcing that crimes against humanity (torture) would be standard US military behavior when he becomes president.
The trip is not long from tormenting a disabled veteran and POW to insulting and attacking a Gold Star mother and her religion. Trump is on familiar ground and he is indeed probably the best candidate to reflect Republican values. These values run counter to decency and respect. No military veteran or their families should tolerate Trump's behavior and what the Republican Party has become.
Veterans, conservatives and Republicans, the time has come to place country before party. Disavow Trump.