Here's an argument about the Khans - and other grieving parents - that I hadn't seen before https://t.co/BWALAGhcYf— Steve Inskeep (@NPRinskeep) August 2, 2016
On the first night of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, I cringed when Patricia Smith, the grief-stricken mother of Sean Smith, an information officer killed during the terrorist attack that destroyed the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, took the stage.American politics crossed this line a long time ago. Smith didn't just emerge from obscurity at this year's Republican convention -- she's been a regular on Fox News for years. Here she is on Mike Huckabee's Fox show more than three years ago angrily wishing Hillary Clinton a happy Mother's Day:
Smith, standing before thousands of delegates -- with millions more people watching on television -- openly raged at Hillary Clinton. “For all of this loss, for all of this grief, for all of the cynicism the tragedy in Benghazi has wrought upon America, I blame Hillary Clinton,” Smith thundered from the podium. “I blame Hillary Clinton personally for the death of my son!”
Where could the debate possibly go after that? The sad answer came the following night, when thousands of delegates chanted “Lock her up!” about Clinton as a smirking Gov. Chris Christie used his podium time to conduct a mock trial of Clinton for various “crimes.”
It was not a great moment for democracy....
I mentally wrote off Smith’s tirade as an unfortunate but unimportant moment of marred messaging -- but a similar feeling returned days later, when the Democratic National Convention staged a raw emotional appeal of its own from the parents of Capt. Humayun Khan, a soldier killed in action in Iraq more than a decade ago....
Another grieving parent, another conversation-stopping personal attack on the rival party’s candidate. We’d be better off without the highly produced moral grandstanding.
I want to wish Hillary a happy Mother's Day. She's got her child. I don't have mine.Does Louis seriously believe that Smith's speech led to the "Lock 'em up" chants at the Republican convention? Does he think Christie's mock trial just rode a wave Smith's speech created? Did he listen to the rest of the speeches? Has he paid attention to bloody-shirt right-wing rhetoric on Benghazi going back to 2012, in every corner, from the most obscure websites to the halls of Congress?
This is far from the only example of sustained bloody-shirt rhetoric on the right. Since the start of his campaign, Donald Trump has been talking about victims of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants; the father of one victim, Jamiel Shaw, spoke at the Republican convention and said Trump was "sent from God." Louis has overlooked that, I guess, because there's no Democratic analogue for it. I guess it isn't problem unless both sides do it.
Khizr Khan's speech wasn't expected to be a centerpiece of the Democratic convention -- Donald Trump is making it one because he thinks he has to hit back whenever he's attacked. Hillary Clinton has moved on to speeches with Warren Buffett -- she's not exploiting the Khan family.
Louis is wringing his hands about our coarsened political culture. He should have noticed that the coarsening started many, many years ago. It seems to have drawn his attention only when Democrats responded.