Hillary Clinton shocked the world: “John McCain is not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.” Republicans immediately went on the attack while Democrats shuddered in utter disbelief.
Though her poll numbers tanked she didn’t stop there. In short order Clinton attacked the mother of a slain American soldier, mocked and ridiculed a reporter with a disability, encouraged gun-loving, Second Amendment followers to take out her opponent, asked the Russians to investigate him, praised her daughter’s beauty and said she would perhaps date her were they not related, bragged about her ample body parts, called Mexican immigrants rapist drug-dealers, and slammed veterans suffering from PTSD.
And her lie quotient was through the roof. She was branded PolitiFact’s 2015 Liar of the Year for telling whoppers 70 percent of the time, compared to her opponent’s 28 percent.
Finished, done. Put a fork in her. Repulsing her former supporters, Clinton proved to be a classless, immoral boor. The Democrats wanted no part of a bigoted narcissist who they recognized was thoroughly unfit for any political office, much less the highest one in the land. Republicans were giddy with joy.
Wait — time warp! That wasn’t Hillary Clinton. It was Donald Trump! But instead of sinking, Trump’s popularity grew after each and every outrage.
In other words, had Hillary Clinton done all that Donald Trump did, Trump’s supporters would have crucified her unmercifully. And had she been a Republican you would never have heard a peep about Benghazi or emails. Nada.
This false duality betrays a total lack of intellectual honesty by team Trump. Worse, it is a reflection of the perilous state of our union.
Values matter. A shared sense of reality, of where we came from, where we are and where we hope to go is crucial. But unlike the Greatest Generation and before, we now have almost none of that.
Howard Fineman, NBC News analyst and Huffington Post editorial director, was a keynote speaker at this year’s Kentucky Bar Association annual convention. Unlike other times I have seen him, he was deadly serious and disheartened by the disunited state of America.
The root problem, he noted, is our unwillingness to recognize, accept and agree on facts. This is the main difference between now and then. Prior generations could at least agree on history and the status quo. They could then seek political actions based on this shared state of facts but according to their own philosophies, conservative or progressive. They compromised, they got things done and they moved forward.
Not so today. The conscience has gone AWOL, and with it the moral sense of rightness and wrongness that once influenced attitudes and behavior. This includes the teachings of religion for many in the faith community. In a nutshell, professed Christians would never have supported a Trump in the past as many do now.
You could actually stop at the John McCain slur. That says it all. A hero in every sense of the word, McCain answered the call of duty in Vietnam, suffered five-and-a-half years of torture and captivity, then returned and succeeded beyond all odds, with over 30 years of service in Washington.
Had anyone else so wrongfully dissed him, he or she would have been trounced. The fact that Trump profited from his smear is proof positive that a large part of this nation is under some kind of demonic spell.
But not all, for many Republican leaders have thoroughly disavowed Trump. Some may support Clinton, some may not. Regardless, they are the hope of our nation. For if these broad-minded leaders can help restore us to a shared understanding and common purpose we will all hang together.
And if not, as Benjamin Franklin said, we shall all hang separately.
Richard Dawahare is a Lexington attorney.