The most emotional moment of the Democratic National Convention was the speech by Khizr Khan, the bereaved father of Army Captain Humayun Khan. With his wife Ghazala by his side, Khan recalled his son’s character, his faith, his patriotism — and, ultimately, his courageous death in the service of the country he loved, and the fellow soldiers he was protecting.
On ABC this morning, Trump responded to Khan’s speech. I don’t know what I expected from Trump. Maybe he would show some gentleness. Maybe he would show some empathy. Maybe he would refuse to comment. Maybe he would attack Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama’s foreign policy leadership. All of those responses would have been fine.
Trump’s actual response, though, wasn’t fine.
"If you look at his wife, she was standing there," he said, on national television. "She had nothing to say. She probably, maybe she wasn't allowed to have anything to say. You tell me."
This wasn’t a slip of the tongue. In an interview with Maureen Dowd, Trump took the same tack. "I’d like to hear his wife say something," he said.
Let’s be very clear about what Trump is doing here: as ABC wrote, he’s suggesting "Khan’s wife didn’t speak because she was forbidden to as a Muslim." This is bullshit. It is flatly, verifiably, false. But that’s almost beside the point.
Trump listened to a speech by the bereaved father of a fallen Muslim soldier and used it to slander the fallen soldier’s family. That was his response. That is his character.
At this point, I honestly don’t know what to say. I don’t have new language for this, I haven’t found another way of saying this isn’t okay, this isn’t kind, this isn’t decent. Instead, I’ll note James Fallows’s response. He quotes Joseph Welch, speaking to Senator Joseph McCarthy in 1954.
"Until this moment," he said, "I think I never really gauged your cruelty."
If you would like to see Ghazala Khan speak, you can do so in this interview she gave to MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell. As Fallows writes, she breaks down sobbing while speaking of her son. It suggests she let her husband give the DNC speech for a simple reason: she remains overwhelmed by grief.
This is the woman Trump decided to slander. This is the gauge of his cruelty.
This isn't partisan. This isn't left vs. right. Mitt Romney never would have said this. John McCain never would have said this. George W. Bush never would have said this. John Kerry never would have said this. This is what I mean when I write that the 2016 election isn't simply Democrat vs. Republican, but normal vs. abnormal.
You can always argue that he deserves rougher treatment by the media but I think they have covered Trump more negatively than any other candidate I have seen. I would prefer to blame the media for his success so far but I think that unfortunately he has had enough like minded citizens in his corner for the media to have made a difference in the outcome.
Yeah, our wonderful fourth estate. All about the bottom line now. Do you think Cronkite, Brinkley, Murrow or even Mike Wallace and Morley Safer would kowtow to Trump like this?