Donald Trump continues to remind me of Archie Bunker without any of the redeeming characteristics. In an early episode of All In The Family, Archie tries to pull a scam. Sound familiar? He hoped to make some money in a tort suit, but the witnesses to the accident were a station wagon filled with nuns. His lawyer advised him, “In law, you can’t beat a station wagon filled with nuns.” My addendum to these words of wisdom is, “In politics, you can’t beat a Gold Star mother.”
I don’t have to spend any time describing Trump’s wrangle with the Khans. You know what happened. The back and forth dominated the news this weekend. Trump continues to believe that *any* publicity is good publicity. That might be true for a bombastic reality show star or a shady real estate developer, but it’s not true for the nominee of a major political party.
I’m not sure if the Insult Comedian has ever heard of the first rule of holes: when you’re in one, stop digging. If he were capable of any restraint whatsoever, he could have issued a concise statement about the Khans: “I honor their son’s service. I am sorry for their loss.”
We all know that Trump’s skin is thinner than filo dough, so he’s incapable of such restraint. As usual, Josh Marshall has the best handle on why the Insult Narcissist responded in this fashion:
For a narcissist like Trump, the rage and emotional disequilibrium of being dominated, humiliated is simply too much to bear. He must lash out. What he said in one of his tweets responding to the Khans is perhaps the most telling. “I was viciously attacked by Mr. Khan at the Democratic Convention. Am I not allowed to respond?” The use of the adverb “viciously” is a good tell that Trump is a narcissist. But setting that aside, most people would know that the answer is “No, you’re not.” Certainly you’re not allowed to respond in the sense of attacking back. Their son died serving the country. You don’t get to attack them. Someone with a moral consciousness who is capable to empathy would understand this through a moral prism. A smart terrible person would understand it as a matter of pragmatism. Smart terrible people spend time to understand human behavior, even if the moral dimension of it is invisible to them or a matter of indifference. Just as importantly, they have impulse control.
Trump has no impulse control whatsoever. It’s why he keeps pitching fits every time he does not get his own way. It’s an unappealing quality in an adult and an appalling quality in a potential President. I tweeted this the other day:
Trump’s specialty in the early stages of the General Election has been unforced errors and self-inflicted wounds. He got away with it with the Republican base in the primary season, but his act isn’t going over well with the public at large. This was predictable. Trump’s path to victory is a narrow one and gets trickier every day. I agree with Athenae that the GOP should not be allowed to resume its life as a normal political party. The weekend was full of GOP pols saying that Trump is a terrible man but that they still supported him. Josh Marshall calls them the “Yes, But” caucus. It’s in their self-interest to repudiate him, lose the election, and rebuild. I’m not sure they’re capable of such reflective thinking but they should give it a try.
In a letter addressed to the GOP nominee, the Gold Star families, a military distinction for those who have lost a family member in the line of duty, called Trump’s attacking the Khans “repugnant and personally offensive.”
“When you question a mother’s pain, by implying that her religion, not her grief, kept her from addressing an arena of people, you are attacking us,” they wrote. “You are not just attacking us, you are cheapening the sacrifice made by those we lost.”
The letter continued: “This goes beyond politics. It is about a sense of decency. That kind of decency you mock as ‘political correctness.'”
Repeat after me: You can’t beat a station wagon filled with nuns, a Gold Star mother, or 17 Gold Star families.