Speaking today in Iowa, Donald Trump attacked John McCain for being a former prisoner of war....Before we assume that Republican voters consider attacks on McCain's patriotism to be beyond the pale, let's recall that some Republicans have long despised McCain, and applaud such attacks if the attackers come from the right. A 2000 article with the title "Will 'Ace' McCain Flame Out Again?," which depicted McCain as a terrible pilot, was approvingly linked more than once at Free Republic; the article originally appeared in Insight magazine, a sister publication to the Moonie Washington Times. Some right-wingers believe McCain committed treason in Vietnam, as suggested in a flyer distributed in 2008 during the South Carolina primary campaign by a group called Vietnam Veterans Against John McCain, which called McCain a "Hanoi Hilton songbird." And McCain has been called a traitor by conservatives for a number of reasons -- in 2013...
"He's not a war hero," Trump, a Republican running for president, said of McCain. "I like people that weren’t captured. "He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured."
At a recent town hall event held by Senator John McCain (Maverick, Arizona) a U.S. Marine ... said to McCain’s face that the Senator should be “arrested and tried for treason” for supporting al Qaeda terrorists in Syria....... and this past May, by a 2008 Ron Paul delegate to the Republican convention who's also the founder of the Oath Keepers:
The US Marine, one Blaine Cooper, called McCain a traitor for sending arms and money to support the Syrian rebels, many of whom are al Qaeda, our worst enemies.
Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes told a Tempe, Arizona, conservative gathering last week that Sen. John McCain should be tried for treason and “hung by the neck until dead” for going “along with the program of the destruction of this country.”So McCain isn't entirely above reproach on the right. He's still despised by many for supporting immigration reform and for, in much of the right's eyes, losing a winnable race against Barack Obama. Nevertheless, I think these remarks will alienate a certain number of Trump's newfound fans.
... “John Cain [sic] is a traitor to the Constitution,” he added. “He should be tried for treason before a jury of his peers — which he would deny you, he supports your denial of a jury trial, he supported the NDAA saying that he could just have the president slam you into a brig in North Carolina or South Carolina or wherever else he wanted to, try you by military tribunal and have you executed. He would deny you the right for trial to jury, but we will give him a trial for jury, and then after we convict him, he should be hung by the neck until dead....”
But the real trouble is yet to come for Trump. In theory, he could walk this back and not suffer too much damage within his fan base. But Trump is never going to walk anything back. Never walking things back is practically his entire act.
Which gives all his pants-wetting Republican opponents a golden opportunity. Now they can sanctimoniously attack Trump for besmirching the honor of a great American who suffered torture at the hands of brutal communists -- and they don't have to say a word about every other obnoxious thing Trump has said recently.
And then, I suspect, Trump will just finish himself off, because when they attack him for attacking McCain, he'll just double down, because doubling down is his automatic reaction whenever he's attacked.
It may be that anger at McCain is sufficiently great on the right that Trump can get away with this. Or it may be that something else will happen to make us all forget that Trump ever said this.
But I think this might burst the Trump bubble -- not what Trump said today, but how he'll up the ante in the next few days, because he's too stupid not to.