WASHINGTON — Donald Trump’s much bragged about gut instincts failed him. He picked a fight with a Gold Star mother whose Army captain son was killed in Iraq.
You do not disrespect the family of a fallen soldier. Or anyone who died serving the United States.
That’s not being politically correct. It is being compassionate, a quality we want in a commander in chief.
By Sunday afternoon, Trump earned the implicit repudiation of House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
The top two Republicans in Congress — Trump supporters — felt some pressure because they both released statements saluting Army Capt. Humayun Khan, who was killed in a car bomb explosion in Iraq on June 8, 2004.
This latest episode, demonstrating how Trump lacks judgment, started on Thursday, the last day of the Democratic National Convention.
Khizr Khan, with his wife, Ghazala, standing silently by his side, lit into Trump when he came to the stage in Philadelphia, “speaking as patriotic American Muslims with undivided loyalty to our country.”
“Have you ever been to Arlington Cemetery?” said Khan, whose son is buried there. “Go look at the graves of the brave patriots who died defending America — you will see all faiths, genders and ethnicities.
Aiming at Trump, Khan thundered, “You have sacrificed nothing and no one.”
Khan talked about how Trump, who has proposed curbing Muslim immigration, would not have let his son into the country. On Friday afternoon in Colorado Springs, Trump was asked about this in an interview with ABC’S George Stephanopoulos for his Sunday show, “This Week. “
Trump fixated on Ghazala Khan, going so far as to suggest her Muslim faith prevented her from speaking.
“His wife, if you look at his wife, she was standing there.
“She had nothing to say. She probably — maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say. You tell me, but plenty of people have written that,” said Trump, employing an oft-used rhetorical device to avoid taking responsibility for what he says.
“And personally, I watched him,” he said, referring to Khizr Khan. “I wish him the best of luck, George.”
Later in the interview, Stephanopoulos asked him to react to Khizr Khan’s line about sacrifice.
Trump replied, “Did Hillary’s scriptwriter write it?”
As if Trump wrote his Cleveland convention speech, remarkably including 200 footnotes in the prepared text.
Asked about sacrifices he made, Trump, the billionaire businessman who never served in the military, said: “I think I have made a lot of sacrifices. I’ve work very, very hard. I’ve created thousands and thousands of jobs, tens of thousands of jobs, built great structures. I’ve done — I’ve had tremendous success.”
Pressed if those really were sacrifices — of course they weren’t — Trump said, “Oh, sure, I think they’re sacrifices.
We heard from Ghazala Khan in a Sunday Washington Post column. She wrote that she was never really silent.
“Without saying a thing, all the world, all America, felt my pain. I am a Gold Star mother. Whoever saw me felt me in their heart.
“. . . Walking onto the convention stage, with a huge picture of my son behind me, I could hardly control myself. What mother could? Donald Trump has children whom he loves. Does he really need to wonder why I did not speak?”
In an interview with CNN’s Jim Acosta, Khizr Khan appealed to Ryan and McConnell to repudiate Trump — and for Trump’s children to intervene.
“I want his family to counsel him, teach him some empathy. He will be a better person if he could become — but he is a black soul. And this is totally unfit for the leadership of this beautiful country.”
Yes, politics dictated the speakers at the conventions.
On the first day of the Republican convention, Patricia Smith, whose son Sean, was killed in the Sept. 11, 2011, Benghazi attacks, said: “I blame Hillary Clinton personally for the death of my son. Personally.”
Disrespecting a Gold Star family makes it harder for Trump to expand his GOP base vote or woo cross-over voters and Independents.
By Sunday night, the campaign tried to control the damage.
Trump’s running mate, Mike Pence — not Trump — said in a statement that Capt. Khan “is an American hero and his family, like all Gold Star families, should be cherished by every American.”
Which is what Trump could have said in the first place.