One of the most memorable lines on George W. Bush is due to Ann Richards, a former Texas governor, who passed away in 2006. “Poor George,” she said, “he can’t help it. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth!” — an apt description also of the newly crowned standard bearer of the Republican party.
Rapidly sinking in the polls because he took on a Gold Star mother (in the U.S. the mother of a fallen soldier) he is also losing Republican support. But then Donald Trump can never accept criticism without retort, and if the Democrats had planned it, they could hardly have done better.
It was the story that caught fire after the Democratic convention. The grieving parents of a fallen soldier who had sacrificed his life to save his company of men in Iraq. But the family was Muslim. The dignified Khizr Khan (no relation to the author) expressed his grief for his son and controlled anger at Donald Trump, who has been disparaging Muslims (among others to be fair). Mrs Khan stood silently at his side choking back tears.
He waved a copy of the US Constitution wondering if Trump had even read it and offering to lend him his copy, to the prolonged cheers and applause of the audience.
Any sane politician would have avoided the subject waiting for the story to die down. Not the narcissistic, thin-skinned Trump. He promptly focused on the mother, noting she had not uttered a word: perhaps because of her religion, she was not allowed to. And another Muslim, Malala Yusafzai, hardly a blushing violet, won a Nobel Prize, the youngest person ever to do so, for precisely that, speaking out. In her case, it was for education, in particular education for young girls.
There is a list now on internet sites of eleven Muslim women heads of state or leaders of government. It came about when Hillary Clinton was touted as ‘breaking the glass ceiling.’ These women broke it years ago particularly the two who have been fighting for and switching the top job in Bangladesh for a quarter century.
As Tony Schwartz, the man who actually penned “The Art of the Deal” for Trump and was listed as coauthor, who has been doing the rounds talking to anyone who will listen, has being saying repeatedly: Trump doesn’t know anything. He doesn’t read. He has a very short attention span. He will be a disaster as U.S. president. He (Schwartz) cannot imagine how he (Trump) could read those long White House issue dossiers or assimilate them well enough to make a rational decision. As a top level business man, he is just used to issuing orders.
Illustrative is the story of how Governor John Kasich of Ohio was offered first the vice presidency. It makes sense because Ohio is a crucial border-line state, meaning it can go either way, Democrat or Republican. Donald Trump, Jr. called up a Kasich staffer offering the job. He said Kasich would be the most powerful vice president in history, in charge of domestic and foreign policy. Back came the staffer’s natural response, “Then what would Trump do?” Kasich, as we know, declined, and still has not endorsed him.
Senator John McCain, a former Republican presidential candidate, issued a statement on the Khan family episode saying several generations of McCains have served honorably in the armed forces of this country for over a hundred years, and he could not let insults to a Gold Star mother go by unanswered — as a reminder, Trump had already mocked McCain as some hero if he had his plane shot down and then buckled under torture.
Here is how McCain described the incident when Capt Humayun Khan was killed. Capt Khan ordered his company back to safety while he ran forward to meet the suicide bomber’s truck. As a result, the truck exploded prematurely saving his men but costing him his life. The senator called his actions, in the highest traditions of the military and which he too was proud to honor.
That’s the way it is in this hold-your-nose-and vote election. There is a choice, a choice between a narcissistic psycho and a mendacious klepto. What price, democracy?