Bill Press: Where Trump is right

Bill Press: Where Trump is right
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At the risk of sounding like Ted Cruz, I rise today to defend Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpDACA recipient claims Trump is holding ‘immigrant youth hostage’ amid quest for wall Lady Gaga blasts Pence as ‘worst representation of what it means to be Christian’ We have a long history of disrespecting Native Americans and denying their humanity MORE.

“Motormouth” Trump’s latest incendiary comments came over the weekend at Iowa’s Family Leadership Summit. Annoyed that Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainListen, learn and lead: Congressional newcomers should leave the extremist tactics at home Overnight Defense: Trump unveils new missile defense plan | Dems express alarm | Shutdown hits Day 27 | Trump cancels Pelosi foreign trip | Senators offer bill to prevent NATO withdrawal Bipartisan senators reintroduce bill to prevent Trump from withdrawing from NATO MORE (R-Ariz.) had ridiculed as “crazies” the huge crowd of people who turned out for his immigration rally in Phoenix the week before, Trump seized his first chance to strike back at McCain.

When moderator Frank Luntz interrupted Trump’s tirade against McCain to remind him he was talking about a war hero, Trump rejected the Vietnam POW’s universally recognized reputation. “He’s not a war hero,” the billionaire candidate countered. “He’s a war hero because he was captured? I like people who weren’t captured.”

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Trump’s comments ignited a storm of protest from fellow Republican candidates. Putative front-runner Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor, condemned his “slanderous attacks.” Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry demanded that Trump immediately apologize and drop out of the race. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal made it personal: “After Donald Trump spends six years in a POW camp, he can weigh in on John McCain’s service.”

But, true to form, Trump didn’t back down. He doubled down. 

He not only refused to apologize, he added insult to injury by calling McCain a “dummy” because he graduated last in his class from the Naval Academy; Trump dismissed him as
“a loser” for his failed 2008 presidential bid, saying, “I don’t like losers;” and he accused  him of doing “so little for our veterans.” At this point, it seems, only Cruz and I are left to defend him. 

Don’t get me wrong. I think Donald Trump’s comments about McCain are disgusting. I like McCain. I believe he’s the real thing: A genuine American war hero, who deserves the respect and gratitude of every American, no matter what you think of his politics. But, still, he’s not sacred. McCain’s a fair target, like everybody else in politics.

Besides, there are two things I don’t buy about all this feigned outrage from Trump’s 2016 opponents. 

First, what took them so long? They barely uttered a peep when the mogul attacked immigrants from Mexico as rapists, or when he accused President Obama of not being an American citizen. But when Trump attacks a white man, suddenly they go bonkers.

Second, what about the hypocrisy of it all? In 2004, Republicans gleefully slimed war hero John Kerry when he made a run for the White House. But today they reject any criticism of war hero John McCain? 

I’m sorry. Republicans can’t have it both ways. They can’t practice one kind of politics themselves and then whine and moan when somebody plays the same kind of politics against them. If it was fair game for Kerry in 2004, it’s fair game for McCain in 2015.

There are two important lessons to be learned here. One, the Republican Party should do what I suggested in this column two weeks ago: Disown Donald Trump and throw him out of the party. Two, all candidates should stick to the issues and stop playing the politics of personal destruction. Because, when you do, eventually it’ll turn around and bite you in the butt. 

For Republicans, it just did.

Press is host of “The Bill Press Show” on Free Speech TV and author of The Obama Hate Machine.