Donald Trump has done a lot of things during this campaign that are not only outrageous and shameful, but in a sane world would disqualify him from running for president. But easily one of the worst, if not the worst, came on Friday when he saw fit to attack a pair of Gold Star Muslim parents who called him out at the Democratic National Convention. Why? Trump apparently thought that the mother wasn’t allowed to speak for herself because of her Muslim faith.
For those who missed it, Khizr and Ghazala Khan are at the center of what was easily the most moving moment of the Democratic National Convention. They are the parents of Captain Humayun Khan, who was blown up by an IED in Iraq in 2004. During that speech, Khizr blasted Trump for his Islamophobia, and loudly wondered if he is truly committed to the Constitution.
What was the Donald’s response? He asked–not once, but twice–why we didn’t hear from Ghazala. In interviews with The New York Times and ABC News, Trump mused that Khizr forbade his wife to say anything, and that Ghazala had no choice but to obey. He also openly wondered whether Khizr’s words had been his own–thus suggesting that a Gold Star father who spoke out against him was merely reading cue cards from the Democrats.
What Trump didn’t know was that ABC’s George Stephanopoulos had a surprise for him–a follow-up interview with the Khans themselves. In it, Ghazala repeated what she told MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell on Friday night–she is still raw from the death of her son 12 years later, and was too shaken to speak. Even now, Ghazala can’t look at Humayun’s picture because the sight of it brings her to tears. Ghazala said that millions of Americans watching her “felt my pain” even though she didn’t say anything.
Overcome by emotion, Ghazala made her own appeal to the Donald.
“Mr. Trump, feel that pain and you will feel better. Please. I am very upset when I heard when he said that I didn’t say anything. I was in pain. If you were in pain you fight or you don’t say anything, I’m not a fighter, I can’t fight. So the best thing I do was quiet.”
Khizr then took advantage of an unexpected second chance to flay Trump.
“Running for president is not an entitlement to disrespect Gold Star families and [a] Gold Star mother not realizing her pain. Shame on him! Shame on his family! He is not worthy of our comments. He has no decency. He is void of decency, he has a dark heart.”
Khizr then added that he had actually asked Ghazala if she wanted to speak alongside him in Philadelphia. However, Ghazala knew she was still too raw, and declined. She came on stage with her husband because he himself is very raw, and needed her strength to make that speech. No wonder those two have been married for 42 years.
The Khans weren’t the only ones to blast Trump’s shameful words. Condemnation came in fast, hard, and from both sides of the aisle. While on the stump in Pittsburgh, Democratic running mate Tim Kaine said Trump’s latest shameful act proves that Trump has “a kind of temperamental unfitness” to be commander-in-chief. Former president Bill Clinton was even more blunt, saying, “I cannot conceive how you can say that about a Gold Star mother.”
Karen Finney, a senior adviser for Hillary’s campaign, was even less restrained on Twitter.
Trump is truly shameless to attack the family of an American hero. Many thanks to the Khan family for your sacrifice, we stand with you.
— Karen Finney (@finneyk) July 30, 2016
As was Dan Pfeiffer, a former senior adviser to President Obama.
Trump revealed exactly who he is in this answer and it's not pretty. A man this callous and cruel can't be President https://t.co/EbVBQHAjg7
— Dan Pfeiffer (@danpfeiffer) July 30, 2016
If you are a GOP politician and you don't denounce Trump's comments get out of politics now, you aren't worthy https://t.co/Lou33UQ9Gt
— Dan Pfeiffer (@danpfeiffer) July 31, 2016
Republicans also let Trump have it. Tim Miller, the communications chief for Jeb Bush, wondered if Trump had any humanity, let alone human decency.
Her son is dead. This is inhuman. pic.twitter.com/5uTftniMzN
— Tim Miller (@Timodc) July 30, 2016
John Weaver, a former strategist for John Kasich, also let Trump have it.
Trump's slur against Captain Khan's mother is, even for him, beyond the pale. He has NO redeeming qualities.
— John Weaver (@JWGOP) July 30, 2016
His boss was equally outraged.
There's only one way to talk about Gold Star parents: with honor and respect. Capt. Khan is a hero. Together, we should pray for his family.
— John Kasich (@JohnKasich) July 31, 2016
Bret Stephens, the deputy editorial page editor of the Wall Street Journal–one of the most conservative pieces of editorial real estate in this country–had a message for the GOP.
Trump's smear of Ghazala Khan is despicable. And if you don't agree, you're despicable. https://t.co/7RBlRiurRW
— Bret Stephens (@BretStephensNYT) July 31, 2016
I can only agree. In a sane world, these comments would not only be denounced, but be grounds for Trump to be pushed out of the race. As it stands now, this moment should be bookmarked. It could go down as the first step in Trump not only losing, but getting blown out.