Donald Trump sparked an outpouring of self-righteous outrage from his Republicans rivals this weekend, for his admittedly callous remarks about Sen.John McCain’s (R-AZ) military service, which involved several years in a Vietcong prison. The incident did put into sharp perspective just what the Republicans will tolerate- as they all sat by quietly as Trump insulted and railed against Mexican-Americans but raised their proverbial pitchforks as soon as he dared to speak out against one of their own.
Every GOP candidate except Ted Cruz, condemned Trump for his remarks and issued projections of such intensely concentrated respect and patriotism it was almost hard to remember all the times they’ve cut funding for veteran services, removed crucial protections keeping veterans and servicemen from being exploited by predatory payday lenders, and attempted to turn the Veterans Administration into a for-profit enterprise, or their constant efforts to start fruitless neo-conservative campaigns of Middle Eastern conquest.
The theme of the Republican responses to Trump’s cheap shots revolved heavily around paying respect to McCain for his services, which is evocative of another very disturbing incident in a past presidential election. Where was the respect for Sen. John Kerry in 2004, when George W. Bush and his team organized a smear campaign attacking his war record?
Jeb Bush wrote on Twitter that “enough with the slanderous attacks. @SenJohnMcCain and all our veterans – particularly POWs have earned our respect and admiration.” But apparently that only accounts for Republican veterans, as new evidence has emerged showing that Jeb Bush once sent thank-you letters to the veterans the Bush campaign used to attack Kerry- because Jeb! apparently is “someone who really understands the risk of standing up for something”- having never served himself.
It’s just another indictment of the Republican Party and their lack of consistency on any single issue- they can’t even support our veterans without using them as pawns in political attacks and machinations. While Trumps’ remarks were, like everything else he does, enormously offensive, Jeb Bush has no right to criticize him after supporting the swift-boat campaign against Kerry, unfairly smearing a veteran for his service just because he was a Democrat.
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.