I’ve been vaguely aware of this whole thing about Donald Trump attacking John McCain. He apparently said, “He’s not a war hero.” His reason for saying this — nominally, anyway — is because McCain was captured. It’s pretty silly. There has been much outrage on the right over this. How is it that Donald Trump could criticize one of the troops? That, above all else, is what Republicans are supposed to stand for. Or at least, that is what Republicans are supposed to stand for if all it requires is putting a yellow ribbon on the back of a car; if it involves properly funding veterans care or not starting frivolous wars, well, that’s a bridge too far.
I’m actually in agreement with Trump, although not for his clearly finessed reason. I discussed this a couple of years ago, “Hero” John McCain. I noted then that it is hard to think of McCain as a hero except in the de rigueur sense that we claim that every person in the military is a hero. But it’s more than that. McCain’s primary job in the military was to drop bombs from well above the conflict. I certainly think that takes bravery, but it doesn’t exactly make him Achilles or Hector.
But okay: I don’t want to start a fight. I don’t much care about John McCain as a soldier either way. He’s been far more important as a politician. And in that regard, he’s been an unrelenting stream of bad news. But that doesn’t much distinguish him from any other Republican politician. The main thing is that I can’t get past the fact that Republicans make such a big deal about John McCain the great war hero, when they were only too thrilled to belittle John Kerry’s far more heroic actions in Vietnam.
Just how bad was it? Well, for one thing, I remember many conversations with conservatives in which they dismissed Kerry’s Bronze and Silver Stars and three Purple Hearts as, “What? He got shot in the ass!” In point of fact, Kerry did get a small shrapnel wound on his behind — the other four metals were just lost to conservative memory. But I was just amazed at the way conservatives treated him. I’m not a great lover of the military. But this went against everything that they claimed they believed in. They are the ones who claim that the military is so important and how we absolutely must bow down to every person in uniform lest it cause us to lose all our wars.
With regard to this, Digby reminded me that all of this was not just during the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth nonsense. The picture above is from the Republican National Convention in 2004. It is just one of many that show the delegates wearing band-aids with purple hearts printed on them. Oh yes, they felt very proud mocking the man who actually fought in Vietnam, even while they were voting for two men who were highly successful in their elite efforts to stay out of that war.
This all shows everything that you need to know about the modern Republican Party. It is power over honor — always. They are a great shame to this country.