At his Thursday convention speech, Pakistani immigrant Khizr Khan, whose son was killed fighting for the United States in Iraq, basically called Donald Trump an ignorant bigot who had never “sacrificed anything” for this country. The fallen Muslim-American’s mother stood-by silently, but made similar criticisms the next night on MSNBC.
But when Trump yesterday, as candidates routinely do when slimmed by their opponent’s proxies, hit back hard, and both left and right accused him of acting beyond the pale. Perhaps worried over the blow back from his newly-released comments to George Stephanopoulos for “This Week” Trump’s campaign late Saturday night released a full transcript of the interview. Plus a statement from the candidate both praising the fallen Khan and trashing his father for slimming him.
“Captain Humayun Khan was a hero to our country and we should honor all who have made the ultimate sacrifice to keep our country safe,” Trump said. “The real problem here are the radical Islamic terrorists who killed him, and the efforts of these radicals to enter our country to do us further harm. Given the state of the world today, we have to know everything about those looking to enter our country, and given the state of chaos in some of these countries, that is impossible. While I feel deeply for the loss of his son, Mr. Khan who has never met me, has no right to stand in front of millions of people and claim I have never read the Constitution, (which is false) and say many other inaccurate things. If I become President, I will make America safe again.”
The fracas started Saturday afternoon when ABC released video excerpts of the interview but omitted the part where Trump wishes Khan “the best of luck.”
He was asked to respond to Khan’s searing charge that, “You have sacrificed nothing and no one.”
Trump, who just like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, never did military service said, “I think I’ve made a lot of sacrifices. I work very, very hard. I’ve created thousands and thousands of jobs, tens of thousands of jobs. I think my popularity with the vets is through the roof.”
Then he made the rude but entirely accurate point that the Khan’s speech was highly political, speculating Hillary Clinton’s campaign might even have scripted it. “Who wrote that? Did Hillary’s script writers write it?”
He added that, “if you look at his wife, she was standing there. She had nothing to say. She probably, maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say. You tell me, but plenty of people have written that. She was extremely quiet and it looked like she had nothing to say.”
In response, both Republicans and Democrats heavily criticized Trump.
Matt Mackowiak, a GOP strategist, tweeted: “There is only one response for Trump to the criticism: ‘As an American, I deeply appreciate the patriotic sacrifice of the Khan family.’”
Clinton campaign spokeswoman Karen Finney offered a nearly identical soundbite: “Trump is truly shameless to attack the family of an American hero. Many thanks to the Khan family for your sacrifice, we stand with you.”
Most notably veteran GOP strategist John Weaver tweeted, “Trump’s slur against Captain Khan’s mother is, even for him, beyond the pale. He has NO redeeming qualities.”
It seems that Weaver, who now works for Ohio Governor John Kasich, apparently once thought Trump had quite a few redeeming qualities. In December 2015, Trump aides told Politico that early in the year Weaver and an associate put out feelers about working for the Evil One’s possible presidential bid. Weaver even offered advice on “detailing how to spend money in New Hampshire, explaining why Michigan would be an especially important state this cycle and generally trying to impress,” an unnamed Trump aide told Politico.
Weaver did not respond to tweets asking him to identify the precise “slur” Trump supposedly used and why he once wanted to work for somebody with no redeeming qualities.
But since the Khans chose to question Trump’s own patriotism is it really so surprising he took a few verbal shots at them in response?
What exactly should he have said instead? The famous words from an “Animal House” fraternity pledge, played by Kevin Bacon, after he gets paddled by a brother?
“Thank you, sir, may I have another.”