HONOLULU, July 20, 2015 – Apology fever has taken American culture by storm. Ever since the election of Barack Obama to the presidency, Americans by and large have transformed into a nation of apologetics gushing emasculated whines of “mea culpa, mea culpa!” before the kangaroo courts of demagogic social justice.
Taking tyrannical appropriation from the Saddam Hussein Iraq era where political opponents were subjected to humiliating abasement and forced to publicly confess (false) “crimes” for the theatrical satisfaction of the ruling party, today’s culture police stand ready to take to social media to exact apologies from anyone who dares wander from their weltanschauung.
The latest high-tech apology lynching comes not from SJWs but in the form of a hybrid mob of GOP retread presidential candidates and members of Congress restless with the “inferior” glory of being but a legislator, who insist Donald Trump must apologize for “offending” veterans and POWs.
Trump, known for decades by his flamboyant, bombastic, big capitalist style, is no Adlai Stevenson when it comes to being diplomatic. The billionaire celebrity pulls no punches and is world-famous for firing people with some of the most embarrassing invectives ears have ever heard. Riding high in the absence of real conservative leadership, Trump drew the ire of the Republican Guard when he rebuked Sen. John McCain (R, AZ) for his inaction on a number of issues, adding “He’s not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”
As if taking a cue from the George Orwell dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four where party “traitors” are hauled before telescreens to confess a litany of self-depreciating sins, the Republican Guard’s condemnation of Trump’s comments came swiftly and brutally. The American people were told that Trump should withdraw from the race (wouldn’t that be convenient) and apologize to McCain, having somehow dishonored the memory of American veterans and active duty troops everywhere.
Facebook and Twitter, with its infestations of incompetent GOP consultant celebrities and their beta orbit of ingénue star-struck, compliance/conformist-minded followers, predictably served as an echo chamber, amplifying the Republican Guard’s calls for Trump to kow tow and back down. Unfortunately for them, voter unforgiveness over McCain’s 2008 defeat and his continuing pattern of progressive predilections impregnated the public prefrontal cortex with a latent desire to see McCain excoriated by someone, and that someone was Trump.
Context matters: What war heroes actually say about McCain
Let’s be clear, like all things in this world, context matters. Before judging Trump’s lighting strike on McCain’s military service, one must understand that McCain himself has built a political career around humiliating political opponents and dishing out discourtesy. Retired U.S. Army Special Operations commander and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (1997-2001) Hugh Shelton in his autobiography Without Hesitation wrote at length about McCain’s sophomoric style:
“I was concerned about John McCain, whom I had testified before on many occasions during my prior position of commander in chief of Special Operations Command. It seemed like almost every time I would start to speak, he would take off like some rabid dog – screaming, shouting, getting all red in the face, using insulting language – explosive and on the attack – very seldom wanting to listen to what I had to say, preferring to make his points and be done with it. To be candid, I was convinced that he had a screw loose because normal people just didn’t behave in that manner. I never had any problems with the other members of Congress, who behaved respectfully and appropriately” (Shelton, p.336-337; italics added).
Abusive, demeaning, unprofessional behavior is certainly not the mark of a line officer, or a gentleman of the United States Senate. Gen. Shelton, a man of immense Christian conviction and humility towards combat troops, is a true example of a war hero, because he always preserved his honor and bearing. His comments about McCain are revealing, because McCain failed to show the same level of respect to active duty officers like Shelton that he expects men like Trump to show to him as a retiree.
To say it plainly for the cheap seats, McCain is a man who deals discourteously and hits ad hominem below the belt, but can’t take it when people use his own tactics against him.
“Duty, Honor, Country, Service Before Self” don’t apply to the “officially approved” Republicans
Typical of the post-Cold War GOP fanboy movement that can’t tell the difference between airmen, sailors, soldiers, and marines – choosing to collectively address them all as “troops” with jingoistic, uninformed platitudes – the Republican Guard actually thinks that McCain’s military service grants him eternal blanket immunity against any criticism. The fact of the matter is that McCain’s uniform makes him especially subject to having both his patriotism and his behavior routinely questioned, because of his position of special trust.
Who should be apologizing right now is not Donald Trump, but the GOP and its institutional party of deceivers, blowhards, and compliance cops for betraying America with a corporatized, football halftime-slick but substantively weak form of patriotism that cloaks in symbols but fails to deliver. This type of behavior is what truly dishonors veterans and active duty military, because it gives them a false sense of hope while dodging bullets in places like Iraq or Afghanistan that somehow at home their family will be taken care of and the Constitution they fight for will be upholded in city councils, state legislatures and the Congress.
The party of courage is now the party of overpaid twenty-something consultants, and U.S. military veterans are “rewarded” for their overseas service by seeing GOP legislators, governors, presidents, and especially supreme court justices side with tax-to-death liberals and freedom-stripping special interests.
In some states like Hawaii – a state so loaded with active duty military personnel and capital warships that practically half the island of Oahu is a military facility – veterans are “blessed” for their valor in uniform by having state legislators so brazen as to defect to the Democrats while serving as none other than Republican Caucus leader in the state House of Representatives. This is what veterans actually have to look forward to when they come back from war – a party of Jodies that keep up the homefront morale by seducing voters with empty promises.
When retired hot shot fighter pilots or fast attack submarine officers retire from the military and attempt in places like Hawaii to help the GOP and run for office, the cycle of insult and frustration for veterans is finally complete when they discover the party sides with whiny lawyers and weaksauce dilettante candidates over line officers with the actual combat command experience to show mature leadership. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how the Republican Guard treats veterans.
Gut check for the GOP
What we see in the GOP is an excessive zeal to deliver grandiose campaign speeches but a pathetic pattern of never actually saving anything except for their own careers. Republicans claim to be pro-military and pro-national security, but since George H.W. Bush, they have taken America’s military off alert and dismantled more nuclear weapons, shuttered down more bases, and canceled more weapon systems under development than the Democrats could ever dream of.
F-14 Tomcat, A-12 Avenger II, LGM-118 Peacekeeper, RAH-66 Comanche, XM2001 Crusader, AGM-129 stealth cruise missile … the list of strategic programs killed by Republican administrations sounds, to take updated license from Zell Miller, “like an auctioneer selling off our national security.” Many of the military programs cut by Republicans have left gaping voids in platform capabilities that today’s U.S. forces are stretched thin and wearing ragged trying to cover.
Republicans claim to support our “troops” but it was a Republican administration that sent our forces into Iraq and Afghanistan unprepared, ill-equipped, and forced to fight a determined enemy with hands cuffed behind their back by rules of engagement and a manic insistence on “transformation” to fourth generation warfare.
Since 9/11, Republican neoconservatives have been screaming at the top of their lungs for America to increase her counterinsurgency and anti-terrorism capability, focusing like a fine strainer on tiny states like Iran, while completely ignoring the massive nuclear and conventional buildup of Russia and China.
Today, as both powers harass our European and Asian allies, as Russian bombers routinely skirt U.S. air defense identification zones armed with live nuclear weapons, only now are Republicans suddenly rediscovering – albeit, too late – that a Russian pilot in a Tu-160 escorted by T-50 fighters is actually more dangerous than a ragged terrorist hiding in a third world slum. Who’d have thought it possible? Are we going to have to one day see Russian Su-35s over I-95 before this spell of stupidity is actually broken?
The truth is, anyone who actually is familiar with the military and all its traditions knows that military men are used to constantly being tested to prove their ongoing worth, unlike the Republican Guard which thrives on conservative ignorance and jingoistic compliance. Marines regularly and randomly challenge each other to prove their physical strength. Air Force pilots, like the legendary Colonel John Boyd, are cocky enough to say to each other, “Come fly out to altitude, and if I don’t have lock on your aircraft in forty seconds, I’ll pay you forty dollars.” The entire special forces-inspired “coin check” challenge coin system which got watered down over the years is rooted in constantly keeping people in a state of alert and attention to detail.
We could go on and on, but the fact of the matter is that real military men stand prepared every day to prove their manhood and show their patriotism. If McCain, with his family legacy of military service, can’t handle a verbal ribbing from a real estate salesman, then he shouldn’t be a U.S. senator, and thank God he didn’t become the military’s Commander-in-Chief.
Neoconservatives are offended? What a laugh. Real conservatives look at them dismissively, knowing them to be too weak and too enamored to slogans to actually be of value. Most of the neoconservative elected officials and the journalists in the “conservative” media that promote them sound like corporate slogan-makers rather than policy tacticians or solid military leaders, yet these chickenhawks and marketing men want Trump to apologize. America doesn’t apologize for being bold. We are tired of people who talk big but don’t deliver. We are are tired of candidates that can wear the maroon tie but can’t wear the mantle of leadership. Americans love a winner and can’t abide a loser.
No, Trump should not apologize for shaming veterans and active duty military. He’s exercising at home the very rights our military is fighting for abroad, and I have many enlisted friends in the infantry who will tell you they love Trump. People who want Trump to apologize and drop out have consciences so singed by years of propaganda and milquetoast conservatism that they just can’t tolerate a political piranha in their fishbowl. They say Trump isn’t a serious candidate? I say the institutional GOP is no longer a serious party.
The GOP owes our military, and America, the biggest apology of all. By courageously bringing attention to vital issues, Trump is proving himself to be a real American hero.
Dr. Danny de Gracia is a political scientist, an ordained minister, a former elected official, and the author of the new political thriller “American Kiss,” available now from Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, and other major bookstores. DISCLOSURE: Danny de Gracia is an elected Republican District Chairman, but his opinions are expressly his own and do not reflect the official opinion of any organization.