Time for Trump to withdraw
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A couple months ago, I wrote in The Hill's Congress Blog that the Republican party was fractured into several pieces. One of those pieces, made up mostly of ultra-conservatives, has latched onto Donald TrumpDonald TrumpNoem touts South Dakota coronavirus response, knocks lockdowns in CPAC speech On The Trail: Cuomo and Newsom — a story of two embattled governors McCarthy: 'I would bet my house' GOP takes back lower chamber in 2022 MORE as if he is some sort of conservative superhero. He isn't. This is a man who said in 1999 that he's "very pro-choice" and wouldn't ban partial birth abortions. This is a man who wrote in 2000 that "we must have universal healthcare." He's sinking the conservative ship while many of the passengers — oblivious to their wet ankles — cheer him on.

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His latest comments on Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainCindy McCain planning 'intimate memoir' of life with John McCain Trump-McConnell rift divides GOP donors Arkansas state senator says he's leaving Republican Party MORE (R-Ariz.) are an affront to all prisoners of war (POWs): "He's not a war hero. He's a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren't captured."

It's not uncommon for conservatives to dislike McCain. He's one of the few remaining foreign-policy-hawk Republicans and his 2008 presidential campaign was a fiasco. I was very critical of McCain, myself, as recently as June.

But McCain is a hero. His description of what he went through after his Skyhawk dive bomber was shot down serves as a stark reminder of the hell he endured as a POW in North Vietnam for over five years.

"For toilet facilities," McCain wrote in the account which was published in U.S. News and World Report, "I had a bucket with a lid that didn't fit. It was emptied daily; they'd have somebody else carry it, because I walked so badly."

The most astonishing part of McCain’s story isn’t the awful treatment he endured at the hands of the enemy, it's that — out of his sense of duty — he turned down the opportunity to return home:

Suddenly "The Cat" said to me, "Do you want to go home?"

I was astonished, and I tell you frankly that I said that I would have to think about it. ...

But I knew that the Code of Conduct says, "You will not accept parole or amnesty," and that "you will not accept special favors." For somebody to go home earlier is a special favor. There's no other way you can cut it.

I went back to him three nights later. He asked again, "Do you want to go home?" I told him "No." He wanted to know why, and I told him the reason. I said that Alvarez [first American captured] should go first, then enlisted men and that kind of stuff.

McCain chose to remain in his windowless, tin-roofed hell out of loyalty to his country.

Trump was declared medically unfit to serve and given a 4-F deferment in 1972. Yet now, all these years later, it is McCain who appears to have medical problems — the result of a plane crash, torture and his POW medical care.

Trump's comments about a highly decorated U.S. soldier's service are nauseatingly unpatriotic. Former Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) say they make him unfit to be commander in chief, and they're right. Anyone who would say something so flippant about POWs cannot be entrusted to hold American military lives in his hands.

What happened to conservatives in this country? When did they become the type of people who would put up with slapping our POWs in the face? If they are who I think they are, they will forget their distaste for McCain's politics long enough to see something we sometimes forget is there. An old man who has lived most of his life crippled because he believed this country was bigger than himself.

Trump is incapable of seeing anything as bigger than himself — even our POWs. That is why he refuses to apologize. He is an egomaniacal man with no humility, and he should withdrawal from the primary before he does any more damage to the Republican party.

Do we live in a United States where years of disagreements, annoying politics, and obnoxious sound bites can erase John McCain's war scars? Or will we put those things aside and remember?

If conservatives are who I think they are, Donald Trump should be staring up from the bottom of the polls soon.

Zipperer is assistant professor of political science at Georgia Military College. Follow him on Twitter @eddiezipperer.