Donald Trump’s recent ludicrous attack on John McCain’s war record may prove fatal to his candidacy for President. Nevertheless, he refuses to apologize for his ill-time gaffe. And polemicist Ann Coulter – known for her many gaffes and refusals to apologize – defends Trump.
Coulter is absolutely the worst person to defend Trump from charges of defaming an American war hero (and, by extension, his blanket denigration of all veterans who were “captured” by the enemy).
But, first …
What Trump Actually Said
Trump: “He is not a war hero.”
Luntz: “He is a war hero.”
Trump: “He is a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured, OK? I hate to tell you. He is a war hero because he was captured. OK, you can have – I believe perhaps he is a war hero.”
So, Trump initially denied McCain is a war hero, then claimed he was a war hero because he was captured, then belittled captured military, then – again – questioned McCain’s war hero status (“perhaps”).
Surprisingly, Trump echoed the sentiments of comedian Chris Rock, who once joked: ““He a war hero. He a war hero. He a war hero that got CAPTURED. There’s a lot of guys in jail that got captured. I don’t want to vote for nobody that got captured. I want to vote for the [expletive deleted] that got away.”
Personally (like many conservatives), I disagree with many of McCain’s views and policies, but his heroism is well documented and irrefutable.
Roger Simon notes, “There are different kinds of heroism. To me, McCain became a hero not when he was shot down, but when he refused to be released by his North Vietnamese captors. He refused because North Vietnam intended to use the release for propaganda purposes to show how McCain, the son of an admiral, would accept special treatment. It would also demoralize the remaining POWs.”
Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA), tweeted: “John McCain is an American hero. I have nothing but respect for his service to our country,” and “After Donald Trump spends six years in a POW camp, he can weigh in on John McCain’s service.”
Coulter Defends Trump
Coulter is up to her (very) old tricks. (Remember, in defending Trump, Coulter is defending and promoting herself.)
Didn’t Coulter call Trump a clown four years ago? Now, he’s magnificent. What changed? Trump’s candidacy and highlighting of Coulter’s primary issue enables Coulter to piggyback off of any success he may achieve.
As for Coulter’s actually defense strategy, she employs two primary tactics. First, she dismisses or minimizes the offense, and, second, she attacks victim.
Coulter initially tweeted: “Trump was being flip and misspoke in 3 seconds. The rest of our guys, with conscious deliberation, sell out the voters and the country.”
Except, Trump didn’t misspeak. Trump stands by his words. And, notice, Coulter immediately went on the attack against everybody else. In tweet after tweet, Coulter has been aggressively attacking other Republicans for their policy views while defending Trump for his besmirching of McCain’s war record.
On Saturday, Coulter claimed, “It was a dumb thing to say, but he knows it’s a dumb thing to say. He took it back right away.” Except, Trump did not take” it back right away.” Trump dissembled and ended, saying “perhaps” McCain is a war hero.
Coulter added, “This is the first mistake he’s made.” First mistake? But Trump believes what he said.
And what of his trashing of Mexicans? Coulter agrees with Trump’s characterization of Mexicans as rapists and murderers. Indeed, she agrees with – and takes credit for – both the substance and style of Trump’s contested remarks.
Coulter Defames Other American War Heroes
Why is Coulter the worst person to defend Trump?
Beginning in 1997, Coulter established a pattern of defaming American war heroes and veterans, especially if they were not conservative enough for her. In addition to McCain, Coulter has defamed paralyzed Vietnam veteran, Bobby Muller; triple-amputee Max Cleland; decorated Vietnam veteran General Wesley Clark; and Vietnam veteran and Purple Heart recipient John Murtha.
A frequent tactic of Coulter’s is to question either their credentials or their patriotism. In general, those heroes who disagree with Coulter are labelled “traitors” or “phony” heroes. Time and again, Coulter uses political positions and policies as her criteria for whether or not they qualify as “heroic” or “patriotic.”
Actual heroism, as displayed in combat or in POW camps, matters little to Coulter, who has never served in the military and whose favorite movie is an anti-war parody, Dr. Strangelove.
Update: Just hours after the posting of this column, Ann Coulter appeared on Hannity to, again, defend Trump. It is painfully obvious that Coulter grasps neither the implications nor the impact of Trump’s defamation of an American war hero.
Coulter repeatedly downplayed the nature and the severity of Trump’s attack on McCain, claiming, “It was a flip remark, it was a mistake,” decrying “this enormous hysteria over a flip remark that was a mistake.” Again, “One flip remark he makes. One flip remark!”
Moreover, she dismissed his words, citing his emotional state (as if being presidential does not require controlling your emotions). Coulter called Trump’s flippancy “something stupid said in a moment of anger.” Yet, it was reflective of what he believes.
Coulter went through a series of policy positions (with which she disagrees) by other candidates, calling them mistakes. No! They are policy disagreements, not personal attacks. Coulter has engaged in ad hominem attacks for two decades and apparently considers them the de rigueur of political discourse.
So, Coulter attacked Trump’s critics (ably combining her dismissal of Trump’s words with her attack on his foes), charging, “Republican midgets jumping on this one flip remark.”
Coulter argued that Rick Perry’s ladder analogy (meant to portray a policy position) as worse than Trump’s ad hominem against an American war hero’s character.
Here, again, Coulter is defending the indefensible, dismissing egregious remarks as merely flippant. Coulter herself relishes such repartee.
Update: All of the co-hosts of Fox News’ The Five were critical of Trump’s remarks. Each had constructive observations.
Kimberly Guilfoyle asked, “Who’s gonna doubt that he is a war hero?” She noted McCain’s “service to this country, the fact that he stayed two years in solitary confinement, he wouldn’t come home when others – when he was gonna be allowed to because he don’t want to jump the line ahead. He’s a class-act and he handled it very well by saying, I’m not going to criticize [Trump on this].”
Geraldo Rivera pointed out that this is about more than just McCain: “There are over 500 surviving prisoners of war. We revere their service. You can’t go there, particularly, if you were a draft dodger.” Dana Perino agreed, noting that Trump’s critics include “veterans and the other POWs.”
Perino also raised a significant point: “temperament and character are what people ultimately look for a year from now.” If Trump can blow it this badly running for President, how would he fare being “leader of the free world?”
Eric Bolling pointed out that Trump had made it personal instead of political: Trump took pot shots at McCain’s military service instead of “his service as a senator, and there is a big difference there.”
Greg Gutfeld addressed those who blindly follow Trump, no matter what, arguing in his opening monologue, “Groupies offer little insight, just rope and dope. His repeat defenders always paint Trump’s gaffes as blunt honesty, which turns them into Bill Maher’s audience: pliant. They left stuff slide.”
Gutfeld continued: “If Obama had mocked McCain’s service, the right would storm the White House. When you perceive criticism as disloyalty, you turn fans into minions. But criticism is your guardrail: Embrace it and you avoid these petty feuds and these nasty gaffes.”
[But neither Trump nor Coulter can abide criticism and, tragically, neither learn from it.]
Gutfeld also noted that Trump (and his supporters) essentially argue that it does not matter if people were upset by his words. Gutfeld pointed out the obvious, that, “as a conservative, if you don’t care about this comment to John McCain, what’s wrong with you? If you don’t think this is bad, you aren’t the real conservative. You’re the RINO, if you don’t care.”
 Ann Coulter, Justice with Judge Jeanine, FNC, 7/18/15.
 Ann Coulter, tweet, 10/19/13.
 Ann Coulter, Hannity, FNC, 7/20/15.