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Swift Boating Trump?

The Republicans are desperately trying to get rid of Donald Trump. I mean they have even asked him nicely to shut up, or at least dial it back a few notches. But Trump continues to be Trump, and he keeps rising in the polls. What’s a GOP to do?

Their plan was to wait for Trump to say something insulting, and then jump on him.

At a campaign forum on Saturday, Trump joked that he didn’t like McCain because he lost to Obama in 2008. And the moderator replied “He’s a war hero”.

Trump said “He is a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured, OK? I hate to tell you.”

The next day, Trump refused to apologize to McCain, and doubled down by accusing McCain of not doing anything for veterans, saying “He’s all talk and he’s no action”.

So the Republicans jumped on Trump – with both feet. Rick Perry said that if Trump doesn’t apologize, he is unfit to be commander-in-chief of the United States. “Don’t question the men and women of the military who sacrifice and sometimes pay a huge price for our safety and our freedom and our economics.” Jeb Bush agreed, calling for an end to “slanderous attacks”, as did Bobby Jindal. Lindsey Graham said that Trump’s statement was a “lack of respect for those who have served – a disqualifying characteristic to be president.”

The Republican National Committee released a statement saying “There is no place in our party or our country for comments that disparage those who have served honorably.”

So, there’s just one problem with this mock righteousness by the GOP. Have they all forgotten the disgusting things they said about John Kerry?

UPDATE: And as some readers have pointed out, there is the smear campaign used against McCain himself during the 2000 GOP presidential primary. The attacks included slurs that McCain was crazy, a “Manchurian Candidate”, a traitor, that he fathered a black child (McCain has an adopted daughter from Bangladesh), that his wife was a drug addict, and that he was a homosexual.

During a break in a debate, Bush put his hand on McCain’s arm and told him that he had no involvement in the attacks. McCain famously replied “Don’t give me that shit. And take your hands off me.” Before the attacks McCain was leading, but afterwards he was effectively defeated.



  1. ThatGuy wrote:

    Let’s not forget the “respect” shown to Mr. McCain during the 2000 primary by the W campaign. They “swift boated” McCain four years before that phrase even entered our political lexicon. But of course, the Bush campaign claimed ignorance (though not outright disagreement) with those negative ads/polls. Trump doesn’t care to separate himself from his own comments (yet).

    Tuesday, July 21, 2015 at 7:03 am | Permalink
  2. Michael wrote:

    The problem the GOP is currently dealing with is substance vs. style. The ideas behind Trump’s comments regarding immigrants, McCain, etc., are not really at odds with the rest of the party. What’s different is that he is delivering these ideas in an overt, straightforward fashion. Instead of funneling money through shadow organizations to cast indirect aspersions, Trump is just spewing the attacks himself.

    The GOP loves dirty ads, racist dog whistles, unfair attacks, and everything else that people claim they hate about politics. But only if it’s done in an underhanded fashion that keeps their hands clean. Trump is undercutting this, and bringing all the ugliness at the heart of the Republican party to the light of day.

    Tuesday, July 21, 2015 at 8:33 am | Permalink
  3. Michael wrote:

    To preempt accusations of bias, sure, Democratic politicians also engage in dirty tactics. It’s part of the nature of the beast. I just find that the GOP takes it to wholly different levels of indecency. Whether it’s McCarthy’s witch hunts, Nixon’s appeals to the Silent Majority, Reagan’s rants against Welfare queens, the Willie Horton ads, or GWBush’s swiftboating of both McCain and Kerry, I feel comfortable making the claim that the GOP has done the better job of finding new lows to sink to.

    Tuesday, July 21, 2015 at 8:42 am | Permalink
  4. Dave, TN wrote:

    Let’s not forget the dirty tactics used against Max Cleland of Georgia in 2002.A well honed tool of the GOP that is being used against them, not so unusual but it is shedding some light on a dark side of the Republicans.

    Tuesday, July 21, 2015 at 6:26 pm | Permalink
  5. ebdoug wrote:

    Thank you for that reminder, Dave. That was the lowest of the low.

    Wednesday, July 22, 2015 at 5:58 am | Permalink
  6. ralph wrote:

    As the old saying goes, “All’s fair in love and war”. And in our hyper-partisan country, politics is no longer the art of compromise, as it has sometimes been historically defined, but war. Internecine carnage is de rigueur these days. This is precisely the kind of politics one would predict from a society that worships money above all else and which directs every aspect of its body politic.

    It’s always seemed crazy and purely egocentric to me how anyone who’s never held any elective office can somehow believe they can be President. But Trump’s unique brand of indiscriminate slash and burn tactics will eventually wear thin, IMHO, as people slowly wake up to his empty promises and tire of his purely hateful, bombastic and narcissistic rhetoric. It’s entertaining theater so far as it goes, but sooner or later the circus will end, perhaps after the first few debates. Is this a man we would expect to work constructively with Congress (or even know how), let alone entrust with the nuclear codes? Compromise is not even in the man’s vocabulary (not that it much is anyway with Repos). What’s left of the Republican field after the smoke clears will be the real story in the long run, especially with respect to how things stand on the Democratic side at that point.

    I think Sanders has a lot more staying power, especially given Clinton’s negative approval ratings in the current polls, which only seem to be worsening in recent months. That she has been attempting to co-opt some of his talking points is telling. He’s changing the debate and there appears to be much more grassroots support for Bernie than anyone else on the horizon in either party, if the crowds he’s been drawing is any measure (much bigger than Trumps, which are reportedly often largely paid stooges). Whether it’s ultimately sustainable, given the Clinton bank, is the big question.

    If there’s anything promising on either side, it’s that neither party’s presumptive favorite (Bush, Clinton) has a clear path to the nomination. In this respect, both Trump and Sanders have done their parties a favor by rocking the boat in their own mavericky (oh how I still miss you, Sara!) way.

    Wednesday, July 22, 2015 at 7:46 am | Permalink
  7. John wrote:

    Jim Wright over at Stonekettle Station aimed a pretty good screed at Trump.

    Wednesday, July 22, 2015 at 1:14 pm | Permalink
  8. ralph wrote:

    John – thanks for the tip. Seen that blog a few times before, he pulls no punches. Refreshing plain speak!

    Wednesday, July 22, 2015 at 5:06 pm | Permalink