t’s time for Donald Trump to drop out of the race for president of the United States.
People who run for public office typically perform a great public service, regardless of whether they win on Election Day. That’s particularly true of presidential candidates, most of whom must devote two years of their lives to hard-fought campaigns that involve staggering personal and financial sacrifices, all in an effort to serve their country.
And then there’s Trump.
In the five weeks since he announced his campaign to seek the GOP nomination for president, Trump has been more focused on promoting himself, and his brand, than in addressing the problems facing the nation. If he were merely a self-absorbed, B-list celebrity, his unchecked ego could be tolerated as a source of mild amusement. But he now wants to become president, which means that he aspires to be the leader of the free world and the keeper of our nuclear launch codes.
That is problematic, because Trump, by every indication, seems wholly unqualified to sit in the White House. If he had not already disqualified himself through his attempts to demonize immigrants as rapists and drug dealers, he certainly did so by questioning the war record of John McCain, the Republican senator from Arizona.
McCain is an American hero. During the Vietnam War, he spent more than five years being tortured as a prisoner of war, and he refused early release unless every man captured before him was released as well. Trump, on the other hand, didn’t serve in the military, partly because, as he puts it, he was “not a big fan of the Vietnam War.” But that didn’t stop him from trashing McCain at the Family Leadership Summit in Ames on Saturday.
“He’s not a war hero,” Trump sniffed. Amid scattered booing, Trump decided to double-down: “He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured.”
Then, perhaps sensing the ground was opening up underneath him, Trump tried to back-pedal while continuing to bloviate. “I believe perhaps he is a war hero,” he said, “but right now — he said some very bad things about a lot of people.”
If Trump, our would-be commander in chief, doesn’t like POWs, how does he feel about men and women killed in action?
His comments were not merely offensive, they were disgraceful. So much so, in fact, that they threaten to derail not just his campaign, but the manner in which we choose our nominees for president. By using his considerable wealth, his celebrity status, and his mouth to draw attention to himself, rather than to raise awareness of the issues facing America, he has coarsened our political dialogue and cheapened the electoral process.