aNewDomain commentary — U.S. Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) is a war hero, almost any way you slice it. But that’s not the issue. John McCain has a crazy hot temper. And that’s not the issue either.
The real issue is this: Does Donald Trump have the temperament to be President of the United States of America? Now that Trump has publicly attacked McCain’s war record, and McCain’s dealings with veterans and the Vietnam War in general, Trump’s temperament is the real question.
And clearly the answer is no. Trump does not have the temperament. Not even close.
Trump first impugned the character of America’s largest neighbor, Mexico. Trump didn’t make his attack in an offhand remark or in a comment possibly taken out of context. He made it explicitly in the speech that kicked off his candidacy for president.
Trump’s attack on Sen. John McCain follows in a direct trajectory from Trump’s racist comments about Mexico.
I’ll explain how below the fold. But let’s first handle the main issue of Trump’s unsuitably bad temperament for the U.S. presidency.
Could President Trump handle trade issues with China or geopolitical difficulties with Russia? Well …
Within the next four years, the United States President will almost certainly have to deal with serious issues involving trade and geopolitical issues with China and geopolitical issues with Russia, not to mention a wide range of touchy dilemmas that are bound to come up with Iran and North Korea.
There will also likely be sensitive trade issues with the EU to deal with, too.
That list includes a huge hunk of the world’s economy and conflicts that could turn into nuclear confrontations. Do you really want Mr. Shoot-from-the-Hip representing the United States here?
Just imagine that it is 2017 and Russian President Vladimir Putin has begun sending so-called “volunteers” to aid the so-called “disparaged” ethnic Russian populations in Latvia and Estonia. Just as he has already done in the Ukraine.
Both Latvia and Estonia are members of NATO, and the United States is obliged by the treaty to come to the aid of both countries.
What happens next?
Does President Trump take to the bully pulpit and call Putin “a short little horny mongrel who I wouldn’t even hire as a cab driver” and give the Russian leader a tiny window for retreat before President Trump “calls in the bombers?”
Does the Trump administration provide no window, however small, for the Russians to evacuate without complete humiliation? (And if not, then what?)
Or does President Trump tell his aides, “Yeah, yeah, I know the NATO treaty is nearly 70 years old. So what? Those pipsqueak little countries aren’t worth enough to make a war profitable. Next!”
If so, then can any of America’s allies depend on the country to honor its commitments? This is dangerous territory.
Now say that it’s 2018. China enacts a new tax policy that effectively removes all American products from its markets.
Chinese officials also begin immediately selling huge quantities of its giant supply of U.S. bond holdings. The U.S. stock market tanks worse than at any time in its history. And the dollar drops like a stone as its biggest creditor begins selling off bonds.
Does President Trump then take to the bully pulpit, describing Chinese leader Xi Jinping as “a goon having the lips of a cocksucker?” And does he then issue an ultimatum that U.S. products be allowed back in Chinese markets “or else?” and move on to demand that other countries purchase the U.S. bonds being sold?
Or does President Trump hold a televised news conference in which he states, “Yeah, shit happens. That’s why I buy real property, and why I have most of my liquid assets in gold. Anyone who reads my books would know this was in the cards. Done!”
And what about John McCain and The Vietnam War?
The U.S. Navy awarded McCain 17 medals. Three of them include the “Combat V,” which denotes heroism for “exposure to personal hazard” during combat.
In part, the citation for McCain’s Distinguished Flying Cross reads:
While attacking the thermal power plant at Hanoi, Commander McCain, despite extremely heavy and accurate anti-aircraft fire and more than fifteen surface-to-air missiles in the air, pursued the attack until his aircraft was hit by enemy anti-aircraft fire. Although his aircraft was severely damaged, he continued his bomb delivery pass and released his bombs on the target. When the aircraft would not recover from the dive, Commander McCain was forced to eject over the target. By his exceptional courage, superb airmanship, and total devotion to duty, Commander McCain reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.”
This was McCain’s twenty-third combat mission in Vietnam.
McCain is a well known Vietnam War POW.
Here’s what is not quite as well known: McCain’s father, John McCain Jr., was at the time of his son’s capture the U.S. Navy’s Commander in Chief, Pacific Command (CINCPAC).
In other words, McCain’s father was the top U.S. Navy officer for the Vietnam theater. Having captured an American prince, the Vietnamese offered McCain an early release from captivity.
But he refused to leave and hand the Vietnamese a propaganda coup.
The Vietnamese then gave McCain several years of nearly continuous torture in hopes of changing his mind. He didn’t.
You might not think the Vietnam War was a good idea. I’m sure I’d agree with you. This said, McCain also might not have the temperament to be president.
After his torture as a POW, not surprisingly, he has anger management issues.
But McCain’s not running for President of the United States. Donald Trump is.
McCain started the fight? Oh, please.
My colleague, Ted Rall, wrote a column today in defense of Donald Trump’s slamming of McCain’s war record, largely on the basis that McCain “is the prick” who started it. I don’t believe it. It looks like Trump is the one who started it.
In response to Trump’s continual defense of his own anti-Mexican comments in Phoenix, McCain said:
“This performance with our friend out in Phoenix is very hurtful to me. Because what he did was he fired up the crazies.”
One could assume here that “crazies” was intended to be synonymous with “racists,” given that Trump’s position on immigration is essentially racist.
And racism is crazy. So you can’t blame McCain for deploying the “crazy” word to express his frustration.
And of course a Republican politician is bound to get a little nervous when another Republican politician takes a racist position, especially given the party’s recent history on race relations.
In what comprises today’s Republican party, McCain is somewhat of a progressive, especially on immigration issues.
So, after issuing a racist proclamation at his presidential campaign announcement, Trump next headed to McCain’s home state where he rallied the same nativists that McCain has been fighting for some time.
All things considered, McCain’s reaction seems fairly moderate.
In response to all of this, the most well-reasoned response that Trump can make is to question McCain’s heroism in a war that ended nearly 40 years ago? Really.
And to think that Trump the intemperate spoiled brat is seriously vying to be the next president.
Yeah, right. He can be President Trump. Sure. But only if we want to commit national suicide.
For aNewDomain, I’m Tom Ewing.
John McCain’s military ribbons: screenshot from Wikipedia,org. Image of Xi Jinping: Xi Jinping October 2013 (cropped)” by Antilong – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons. Image of John McCain during Vietnam War: BusinessInsider.com, All Rights Reserved. Image of Donald Trump: Slate.com, All Rights Reserved. Cover image: “A4 fires shrike” by U.S. Navy – Official U.S. Navy photo ; U.S. Navy Naval Museum of Armament and Technology  AGM-45 photo. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.