Saving Grace

Remember 2004 and the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth? No?

It could be because they had nothing to do with truth. Let me refresh your memory.

In 2004 the SBVT formed to discredit the military record of then-presidential candidate John Kerry. The group, financed by T. Boone Pickens and others who never served in the military, made a serious of fraudulent allegations, becoming so notorious that we now use the term swift-boating for any unscrupulous, virulent, and fallacious attack. (Read about the bet Mr. Pickens made with Mr. Kerry to learn just how morally bankrupt people can be.)

Remember 2008? John McCain ran for president.

Like John Kerry, he was a war hero. When people began to question McCain’s military record, one of his supporters, retired Colonel Bud Day, defended him, guarantying that this would not become another John Kerry event because Kerry was a liar and McCain wasn’t. (For anyone who doesn’t understand begging the question, that’s an example.) It might be noted here that Bud Day had helped to produce the SBVT slander four years earlier, while McCain, to his credit, had condemned the act.

2015. Remember Donald Trump? I choose the verb remember because Mr. Trump will soon drop so far off the political radar screen that we’ll hardly remember him as anything other than an aberration–one whose vitriol and arrogance far exceeded his humanity. Yesterday, more desperate every day for a nomination he will never receive, he declared that John McCain was not, in fact, a war hero.

I guess I should take some pleasure in one Republican throwing another under the military transport, but this is so far beyond the pale that I can’t. I also don’t pretend to know what constitutes a war hero, but I would guess that McCain possesses more of the qualities than Mr. Trump ever did or ever will. I’m not a McCain apologist–his politics sometimes annoy me–but all that does is place him in the same category as every other politico from Caligula to Obama. And I’m long past being shocked that people like Donald Trump exist. I am, however, somewhat surprised at the number of supporters who have yet to jump ship, though the numbers may have increased noticeably today. (Note to Christian conservatives–the life jackets are in the cabinet and it isn’t locked.)

Of course, as I’m writing this, someone somewhere is composing another paean to Mr. Trump’s honesty and courage. I hope that unknown writer includes in his piece the fact that Mussolini made the trains run on time and Hitler provided the impetus for the Volkswagen. Sometimes it’s hard to find saving grace without digging a little…in the mud.

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