Consider the Khan affair. Were Trump’s remarks tasteless? Absolutely. But no more so — I’d actually say quite a bit less so — than countless other comments he’s made over the past year. But wait: How dare I! This is a Gold Star family! A grieving father and mother whose son, Army Captain Humayan Khan, gave the ultimate sacrifice for his country! What could be more horrifying than to slander them?
Here’s the thing: The moment Khizr and Ghazala Khan took the stage at the DNC to deliver a speech that savaged the Republican presidential nominee and endorsed the Democratic presidential nominee, they ceased to be any old “Gold Star family.” They became political actors and legitimate political targets. You can’t claim immunity from political attack after you’ve launched an attack of your own in primetime at a political convention.
Damon Linker. Overall, Damon makes a good argument in this post — you should read it all. But I think I can explain why people (in and out of the media) reacted as they did to Trump’s sneering at the Khans. It demonstrated something that many of us already knew, which is that Trump thinks about absolutely everything and everyone in terms of himself. The only thing that matters to Trump, in any and every situation, is: What do you think about me? Because if you praise me, I will praise you, and if you criticize me, I will make every effort to destroy you. That’s it — that’s his entire worldviw, that is the single principle on which he acts. Doesn’t matter whether your son died in combat, doesn’t matter if you are disabled, You come at me in any way, shape, or form and I will ruin you. And when we’re reminded that that the man who wants to be the leader of the most powerful nation on earth thinks that way we’re shaken, and will continue to be shaken no matter how many times he demonstrates it. Because the prospect of a man that profoundly, pathologically narcissistic holding the powers of an Imperial Presidency and the nuclear codes doesn’t really bear contemplating, if you have any moral sense at all.