“You have sacrificed nothing.” Khizr Khan as the Joseph Welch of 2016

Sixty-five years ago, America faced the challenge of a snarling demagogue, who captured the imagination of millions of people by fusing legitimate fears of external enemies with the cultural, regional, and race/ethnic resentments of people who disliked the changing nature of postwar America. Then, as now, this demagogue could draw upon fed off of a general weariness with worthy but imperfect and occasionally complacent liberal political leaders, weary with the grind of military stalemates and inconclusive long wars.

Then, as now, the demagogue had apologists and enablers who wanted to see him defeated, but who would not take the risks or bear the political costs of confronting him. Then, as now, his opponents were divided and hesitant in their efforts to formulate an effective response. They debated among themselves whether and how they should distinguish the demagogue as an individual figure from the Republican Party and the specific constituencies that gave him a congenial home.

Of course, history doesn’t repeat itself. Donald Trump is no Joe McCarthy. For one thing, President Eisenhower and other Republican gatekeepers never allowed McCarthy anywhere near their party’s nomination for president. For another, America is a much more cosmopolitan and diverse nation in 2016 than it was after the Korean war.

History does sometimes rhyme. Thursday night’s festivities and the Democratic National Convention brought an unexpected echo. The occasion was a speech by a 65-year-old immigration lawyer I had never seen before: Khizr Khan, of Charlottesville Virginia, whose son Humayun, a decorated US Army Captain, was killed at age 27 by a suicide bomber in Iraq. The elder Mr. Khan came to America in 1980. He has spent more than half of his life in the U.S.  His oldest son founded a biotech company where his younger son now works.

Mr. Khan brings a quiet gravity that reminds me of many Muslim colleagues with whom I have crossed paths in public health. Visit any safety-net clinic in Michigan or Illinois. You’ll likely meet men and women ministering to the sick and to the poor whose background and bearing bear obvious similarity to the Khans’.

Mr. Khan brought no written speech to the DNC. He didn’t load anything into the TelePrompTer. He brought only his personal eloquence, and his proud memories of his deceased son. In barely six minutes, this grieving father delivered the blistering response Donald Trump deserved: Khan dispatched Trump’s bluster with an anger made more powerful by its utter lack of the usual political rehearsal and polish:

Let me ask you: have you even read the United States constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy. [he pulls it out] In this document, look for the words ‘liberty’ and ‘equal protection of law’.

Have you ever been to Arlington Cemetery? Go look at the graves of brave patriots who died defending the United States of America.

You will see all faiths, genders and ethnicities. You have sacrificed nothing and no one.

We cannot solve our problems by building walls, sowing division. We are stronger together.

Khan’s words called to mind another unexpected moment, when another dignified lawyer rebuked Senator Joe McCarthy more than sixty years ago for smearing the reputation of a junior associate on national television.

Welch wounded McCarthy deeply with his famous question: Have you no sense of decency, Sir.

Khan’s genuine anger–“You have sacrificed nothing and no one”—provided an equally unexpected, electrifying moment.

Like Joseph Welch, Mr. Khan exposed the political and personal ugliness of Trump’s rhetoric and behavior. In every way, the Khan family is the antithesis of Trump’s snarling rhetoric. That family’s life experience puts the lie to the anti-immigrant demagoguery bubbling over this election year.

And like Joseph McCarthy, Donald Trump didn’t seem to comprehend what was at stake, or the conclusions millions of us will draw about him as a person from this exchange. Instead, Trump confirmed every item in Khan’s indictment with his own, nearly impossibly boorish and tone-deaf response.

When Maureen Dowd asked him about Khan’s comments, here is Trump’s response: “I’d like to hear his wife say something.” For the record, Mrs. Khan has said that she becomes quite emotional when discussing her deceased son. But she has thanked America for “listening to my husband’s and my heart.”

PS…. Great minds. James Fallows over at the Atlantic.

Author: Harold Pollack

Harold Pollack is Helen Ross Professor of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. He has served on three expert committees of the National Academies of Science. His recent research appears in such journals as Addiction, Journal of the American Medical Association, and American Journal of Public Health. He writes regularly on HIV prevention, crime and drug policy, health reform, and disability policy for American Prospect, tnr.com, and other news outlets. His essay, "Lessons from an Emergency Room Nightmare" was selected for the collection The Best American Medical Writing, 2009. He recently participated, with zero critical acclaim, in the University of Chicago's annual Latke-Hamentaschen debate.

38 thoughts on ““You have sacrificed nothing.” Khizr Khan as the Joseph Welch of 2016”

  1. Raymond Chandler wrote words to the effect that the spirit of the detective story is that murder will out and truth will come to light, but only if some very determined individual makes it his business to see to it that they do.

    The Khan family may become Trump's Waterloo, but that will happen only if very determined individuals see to it that he is stopped here and now. (Apparently this may be Ann Coulter's Waterloo, judging by the savage response of John Podhoretz and many others to her snotty remarks on Mr. Khan's speech. So there is hope.) But Bonaparte himself is not being stopped.

    Trump was down in Colorado Springs yesterday, where he publicly disrespected the fire marshal (who happens to have been the Springs' Citizen of the Year for his work during the Planned Parenthood shootings). The fire marshal, an impeccably calm and reasonable man in blue, enforced the fire codes on maximum occupancy of the venue where Trump was speaking. Trump insulted him and said he was working for Hillary. This has been a regional story, but it will not become a national story unless somebody makes it one. If this story exploded as it ought to, it would create a new set political problems for Trump that might not be activated by his disrespect for the Khans. He is dissing a white authority figure, among other things, and one who wears a blue uniform. It would be very, very useful to have the Sunday talking heads play the insulting video when Mike Pence is a guest and ask him to defend his leader in front of a national audience. But if the story remains local, few outside Colorado will know. NPR just now mentioned that Trump had given a speech in the Springs and had attacked Hillary, but said not a word about the fact that he had attacked a sworn officer of the law who is doing his duty. This means that the kind of conservatives who (so they say) take umbrage at disrespect for authority, will not have to confront the fact that they are supporting a candidate who shows it so openly.

    Another example of what ought to derail his campaign: Trump posted, at his own campaign site, a letter from his doctor alleging that his labs astonishingly excellent and that he will be the healthiest person ever elected to the presidency. The letter is a farce. A medical student who turned in such a report on a patient would be reprimanded and told to start over. The salutation reads, "To whom my concern," not "To whom it may concern." How can this have gone unnoticed? This letter is not the work of an unimpaired board certified physician, no way, no how. This letter also could be a Waterloo event for Trump, but not if no one makes it their business to see to it that this happens. It would be a HUUUGE story if it became headline news, but so far this has not happened. Faking a doctor's letter is not a small matter. It ought to be a big story. So far it is a non-story.

    And the Trump machine moves on. May this be the Joseph Welch of 2016! Yes, Harold. Let it be so! But when will those in control of our public discourse make these stories go viral? How long can they remain echoing around in the progressive echo chamber, and will they escape in time?

  2. I'm trying to figure out how his statements towards Trump weren't equally applicable to Hillary. What has she sacrificed? Maybe that time she came under sniper file in Bosnia? Oh, wait, she lied about that.

    Frankly, anybody who plans to vote for the likes of Hillary Clinton has a lot of nerve asking anybody if they have no sense of decency. Hillary just about defines lacking decency.

    1. No doubt Hillary Clinton also mocked a disabled man, said that "laziness is a trait in blacks," called Mexican immigrants "rapists," said that she would unconstitutionally deport U.S. citizens whose parents immigrated here illegally, said that she would ban entry into the U.S. of Muslim people and shut down mosques, and said and did other things listed in Slate's list of 153 things that Trump has said or done that make him unfit to be President. But at least she didn't brag about the size of her penis.


    2. Brett, Donald Trump is a despicable person. For all her faults, Hillary Clinton an angel compared to him.

      1. An angel who got kicked off the Watergate investigation for ethical lapses? Who ran the operation keeping her husband's rape victims out of the news? Who laundered money through cattle futures, and turned over the Rose Law firm billing records a couple days after the statute of limitations expired? Who grossly compromised national security to criminally evade FOIA and public record preservation laws?

        Well, I suppose Lucifer was an angel.

        To be clear: I can understand how somebody who had radically different policy preferences from myself might look at Hillary, ethical and legal transgressions and all, and decide that on net, she was worth supporting. "Vote for the crook, it's important!"

        But to deny those ethical and legal transgressions? To pretend that she's some kind of innocent, even by Washington's degraded standards? It really does make it clear that "Reality based community" is a phrase like "Democratic people's republic": If you call yourself one, you aren't one.

        1. You know that the Watergate thing is objectively not true, right? I don't feel like fact checking the others right now, but Hillary Rodham was still working for the Watergate Committee when it was disbanded.

    3. Well, glad you brought up Hillary's being equally indecent.

      Trump was in my home town of Colorado Springs Friday and was briefly stuck between floors of the old Mining Exchange Building before the fire department came and secured the elevator, opened the top hatch, and lowered a ladder to allow the occupants to escape to that the candidate would not be late to his campaign appearance that afternoon. I am sure he was grateful to the firefighters for doing their jobs. It was their duty to do so.

      He got to his venue in time, but the space would not safely accommodate the number of people showing up. The fire marshal intervened to prevent the place from exceeding its maximum occupancy, sending other supporters to an overflow room. The fire marshal happens to be a local hero and was Colorado Springs Citizen of the Year last year for his actions at the Planned Parenthood shooting in November.

      Trump responded as can be seen on http://www.kktv.com/content/news/Fire-marshal-res… . Click on the top video which runs a couple of minutes rather than the bottom video which runs more than 90 minutes.

      In that video, I see a man who would be President but (1) is out of control of himself and the situation, (2) is spewing contempt and fury at a white working man who is DOING his goddamn JOB, and (3) shows total disrespect for authority other than his own. The fire marshal has a blue uniform and is the very model of the kind of public servant who is the very definition of why Blue Lives Matter. Watch Trump and then please tell me that Hillary is every bit as bad and would have done exactly the same thing or worse in that situation. Or produce a video of her doing something comparable. I promise to watch it.

      We have all heard of "Hug a firefighter" but "Flip off a firefighter" is a new one on me. Must be one of those "politically incorrect" things we hear so much about these days.

      This has been pretty much a local story and has not been seen in the national news. Too bad this video has not gone viral. I thought that "respect for authority" was one of those things that conservatives value. This deserved to have dominated the Sunday talking head shows. It shows vividly who Donald Trump is: a spoiled rotten Baby Boomer who throws a temper tantrum when he does not get his way.

      The fire marshal displayed the essence of a cool head in a difficult situation. He probably would have had legal justification in having Trump arrested for interfering with a public official in the discharge of his duties. Now THAT would have made this a viral video! Then the American people could have been furnished with something to think about when they decide whom to trust in the White House situation room the next time there is a real crisis. They could have seen something with their own eyes that would have helped them decide.

      1. Yeah, that's bad. That's big blowhard who doesn't think the rules should apply to himself bad.

        Is it criminally violated national security regulations in order to keep her official communications from ever being seen by a court, resulting in national secrets being exposed to foreign intelligence services" bad? I don't think so.

        And I think if you bothered looking, you'd find Hillary doing things like Trump with the Fire Marshal on a regular basis.

        1. I keep getting timed out in posting my reply. I may have gone over the word count. Therefore I will try to reply in separate comments. Part I:
          I distinguish between eyewitness evidence and hearsay. Allegations are not evidence. You do not know for a fact that Clinton committed a crime. You have heard that she has. I have heard that she has not. I have heard that the law on handling of classified information requires evidence of criminal intent to share the information with people who are not allowed to see it if charges are to be filed. Government officials who are careless in handling classified documents as she did are scolded but not prosecuted. She has been scolded but not prosecuted. She should not have sent certain e-mails on a private server. This is fair game in deciding whether she should be President. Her opponent has every right to ask us to consider her carelessness in making our voting decisions. But as for criminal conduct: you are presenting opinion as if it were fact; I do not so recognize it.

          I can claim consistency in this arena. I have heard that Donald Trump has committed fraud in his real estate dealings and in his running of Trump University. I think he acted disgracefully in his phony university, but I do not know that he committed a crime. There are dozens of allegations that he has; I regard them as allegations until proven otherwise.

          1. "I have heard that she has not. I have heard that the law on handling of classified information requires evidence of criminal intent to share the information with people who are not allowed to see it if charges are to be filed. "

            I don't know who told you that, but it's not true. What it requires is not criminal intent, but "gross negligence", which is why so many people got mad when Comey announced she'd been "extremely careless", but wouldn't be prosecuted.

            There's a certain amount of intent required, (From talking to my brother, who does have a clearance and is subject to these laws.) but it's of a different sort: Say you're traveling with classified documents. You're driving from the airport to your hotel with them in a briefcase on the seat of your car. If you get into an accident along the way, and get separated from the briefcase? You're in the clear, no intent to be separated from it. You hand the car off to the hotel valet and leave the briefcase in it, as you plan to retrieve the car shortly? Violation, because you intended to be separated from it, and don't have any reason to suppose the valet has a security clearance. You forgot for a moment the briefcase wasn't in your hand, and went running after the valet as soon as you remembered? You get the scolding.

            The law doesn't require that you have intent that the documents fall into improper hands. It requires that you intend to commit the act that resulted in the risk of this.

            Did Hillary obtain a private server by accident? Just sort of stumble into it inadvertently? No, she dis so with intent, the exact intent that was needed: Not criminal intent, but the intent to take the chance. The law criminalizes intentionally taking chances, it imposes a legal duty to be careful with these documents.

        2. Part II:

          To the particulars: the allegations that Clinton was fired from Watergate came from a discredited source who had no authority to dismiss her; the man who had such authority, John Doar, was on TV all the time during the House Judiciary Committee proceedings in 1974 and he kept her on staff until the impeachment process was rendered irrelevant by Nixon's resignation. The Rose Law Firm and the cattle futures trading stories were subject to official investigations which yielded no evidence of wrongdoing, although cable TV personalities with no access to documented facts found otherwise.

          Everything you list as fact is really allegation. For every allegation you list, I can list an allegation against Trump. I do not regard these allegations as fact until they are proven. Donald Trump is as innocent as a blue-eyed baby playing with a fuzzy little kitten with respect to everything he is said to have done but for which there is no proof. I judge him not in this arena. He is presumed innocent. Hillary is presumed innocent.

          Therefore I move to dismiss all unproven allegations on all sides and proceed to eyewitness evidence.

          1. I'll give you the firing. Not the cattle futures.

            This relates to a key point about how the Clintons shield themselves from legal jeopardy, and their supporters defend them.

            The cattle futures trades were structured in such a way as to not leave extensive records. That's fine, while it serves obstructing investigations, it can be legitimate, too. The reason so many people are certain that this was money laundering, is not that there are records that prove that somebody else lost the exact same amount, and that they had reason to want to give her money.

            The reason they''re sure it was laundering, is that,

            1. It looks like a known money laundering technique.
            2. The broker used later got caught engaging in that technique.
            3. Even the abbreviated record demonstrates that a number of trading regulations were violated in her favor, such as not being subject to margin calls.

            But, mainly,

            4. The gains are astronomically unlikely to occur naturally.


            5. Having turned $1000 into $100,000 in under a year, she didn't keep doing it for another year to become set for life, but instead stopped on a dime. Not even banking most of the proceeds and continuing with the original $1000. Which makes no sense psychologically, but makes perfect sense in a money laundering scheme, as her mad trading skills were going to evaporate the minute the money was all laundered.

            The point is, it's possible, in a "All the air molecules in a room randomly end up at the other side of it, so you suffocate." kind of way. It's mindbogglingly unlikely if it wasn't money laundering. In the same general way that it's possible for the White House to diligently search for the Rose law firm billing records for months, only to have them innocently appear on a table a couple days after the statute of limitations expires. But not plausible.

            The Clintons are all about making sure they face no legal consequences for their actions. They're not, typically, concerned with people knowing in a no legal consequences way that they're guilty. This works for them, I think, because their supporters don't care. By which I mean, sure, you care if they're guilty. You care enough that you don't care if the scenarios that leave them innocent are plausible, just that they exist is enough.

          2. You'll "give" Ed the firing? You mean you wrote something patently untrue, that you got from some nutjob web site? And now you act like you're just negotiating some deal. "OK, I'll throw in some floor mats."

            No. Not that easy. Not for "Hard-nosed show me the evidence" Brett Bellmore. At least you are H-nsmte Bellmore about things you'd rather not believe. When it comes to things you like you are gullibility itself.

          3. Yeah, I'm fallible, in no small measure because I don't blog for a living, so I can't spend hours and hours exhaustively researching this stuff. So I'm willing to give Ed anything there's actual doubt about.

            Which is no big deal, because she's pulled so many things a fraction of it would demonstrate she's morally unfit to hold office.

          4. By "laundering" I assume you mean it was a way to conceal a bribe, which is not quite the same thing.

            I agree with you that the trading profits were not kosher, mostly because of your 4th reason. But as I recall Clinton never claimed to be a great trader and said she just followed the broker's advice. Still, as the Supreme Court has told us, to my amazement, it is not corruption without an explicit quid pro quo. What was the quid pro quo?

          5. I don't pretend to know, at this remove, the origin of the money that was being laundered. It could have been a bribe, it could have been something else. But, "laundering" is the process of concealing the true origin of money, it's the term for the concealment itself, and that is what I'm pointing out: An illegal procedure for concealing the origin of income.

            What' was the quid pro quo? That would be a great question, if one were proposing to prosecute her, which isn't possible because the statute of limitations is long since expired. (In fact, it had expired when the whole thing came to light, which is why the official investigation was cursory.)

            If you're bringing it up just to demonstrate that she has a history of corruption, of course, you don't need to know what she was being bribed for. Just that she was being bribed, or otherwise had illegally obtained funds she needed to launder.

          6. But that's the issue, isn't it? I mean, who was doing what here?

            My own suspicion is that tere was no quid pro quo, that the broker, or someone, was currying favor with the Clintons, sort of like a big campaign donor, but no specific exchange was contemplated or completed.

            And I don't think the income was concealed. That's something drug dealers and whatnot do to hide the proceeds of crimes. Trading futures is not a crime.

          7. Look, the money was not a result of legal trading. Point 4 establishes that, the broker who was good enough at trading futures to just give her that good of advice as a favor is the broker who'd today be living on a private island the size of Greece. Instead, the broker and brokerage got in trouble for their criminal practices similar to what were clearly going on with her account.

            Maybe the broker just liked her that much, but he just liked her enough to launder money to her. And again we have the "She's just an idiot" defense, in order to claim that she didn't know she was the recipient of laundered money.

            No, trading futures is not a crime. Unless it's used as a conduit for money laundering.

          8. Some points:

            1. Let's not argue about the meaning of "money laundering." It's irrelevant.

            2. I do not, and have not, claimed that the broker was a genius. One explanation I recall is that trades were not assigned to accounts until the end of the day and that he assigned profitable trades to the Clinton account and unprofitable ones elsewhere. Could be.

            3. I do not claim that she had no idea what was going on, though she might not have. My personal experience is that lots of people don't actually believe point 4, and think there are trading geniuses running around. All you have to do is look at how much money otherwise intelligent people waste on useless advice, bad investment management, etc. You could also look at how many individuals trade commodities or options, with or without a broker's advice.

            4. Not a question of liking her. A question of, "Gee, I, or my boss, or my company, might like a favor from the Governor sometime, or the ability to discuss something directly." Whether that happened or not neither one of us knows.

            5. Politicians get money from strangers all the time, through all sorts of mechanisms. Your outrage is highly selective, even if we assume the worst here. Do you think W. was bailed out of his wserial business failures because the bailers, who put up way more than $100K (of their own money, not that of other clients) just thought he was a nice guy? Were you as outraged by that well-documented history as you are by the futures business?

          9. Your 2. is a crime. You do understand that, right? People go to jail for it.

            3. Either she understood what was going on, or her stopping trading on a dime was inexplicable. You've just, in well under a year, turned $1000 into $100,000. Banking some of it, and going on? Sure, smart thing to do. Stopping on a dime, and never looking back?

            Who would do that?

            But it makes perfect sense if it's money laundering, (I don't know why you object so to the term, it's the right one here.) and you know it. You stop because all the money has been laundered, and if you go on you're going to lose your shirt.

            4. Yeah, you expect a quid pro quo. And you don't hand somebody $100k in the vague expectation that you'll get the quid pro quo. You do it because you KNOW you will, or already did.

            5. No, I don't have any admiration for either Bush. I didn't totally give up on the LP until they were all history. Ron Paul, Browne twice, Badnarik. It was fun seeing Jeb go down to defeat. I was rooting for Rand Paul, actually.

            Why do I keep hammering on this? Because it very conclusively demonstrates that Bill and Hillary were involved in criminal activities even back in the 70's, before they got anywhere near the White house.

            The Clintons have created this paranoid narrative around themselves, of this colossal, decades spanning conspiracy to destroy them, that is supposed to explain why they get caught up in one scandal after another after another, sometimes several at once.

            It's nonsense. If conservatives had the capacity to do that sort of thing, to pick a target and smear it for decades, do you think it would all be focused on just the Clintons, from the time they were two bit operators in Arkansas? Why don't you see other cases of Democratic political families with these sorts of scandal records, if the GOP were capable of that sort of thing?

            The reason the Clinton's are always caught up in scandals, is that they're criminals. I'll give them credit where due, they are grandmasters at obstructing justice. And, heck, one dry cleaning and you'd probably think Bill was faithful to his wife, too, and that whole Monica thing was just another empty smear.

            I have this doubtless irrational dream, that if I can just get liberals to admit just one of the Clintons' crimes, they'll figure it out: That they're not innocents being smeared, they're corrupt pols skating free.

            I'll probably die frustrated, but I'm going to keep at it.

          10. I don't doubt you are going to keep at it.

            And let me give you clue. Your case would be heck of lot more convincing if there weren't so many cries of "wolf" involved. Vince Foster, drug dealing, various other alleged murders, hyped up Whitewater claims, fired from the Watergate committee staff, etc.

            You have alleged exactly two things you think were crimes – the commodity business and the emails. The commodity trading may have been a crime, by the broker. Why did she stop? Probably because the broker stopped doing his little favors. That doesn't prove your point at all. And he didn't hand over $100K of his own money, unlike W's enablers. It was other people's. And your certainty that there was a quid pro quo is utterly unjustified. Were you in the room? Did you see it? Can you tell us what it was? If not, you have nothing but paranoia about the Clintons.

            Tell me, does your certainty extend to cases when contributors turn over not $100K of someone else's money but millions of their own to PAC's supporting various candidates?

            The emails have been chewed over enough.

            Oh, and it's definitely not money laundering if she reported the profits as trading profits – probably short-term capital gains – on her income tax return, period. It would be laundering if the money came from some of those drug deals your pals are so sure the Clintons were involved in, and the trades were phony. That's not what happened.

            Oh, and speaking of tax returns, what do you think Mr. Trump's would show?

            Frankly, given your attitude towards him and his career-long history of cheating people, I don't think your moral sense is quite as refined as you imagine. You seem to be supporting a guy who has made way more money by not paying what he owes, and running scams like Trump U., than the Clintons have ever seen. So give me a break.

        3. Part III:

          Eyewitness evidence: video clips are convenient and have the advantage that we can all see and describe them, and discrepancies between descriptions can be worked out by specifying the exact minute and second on the video where the descriptions diverge. Links to documents which are a matter of public record are also good: Senator Clinton's vote authorizing military force in Iraq will serve as an example.

          A host of such clips are available for Trump and we have all seen a number of them. You say that if I bothered to look I would find Clinton doing just what Trump would do. As a matter of fact I did post a clip to my Facebook page not too long ago when considering the ways in which she handled her responsibilities as Secretary of State.
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fgcd1ghag5Y is the clip I posted and it is pretty Trumpy all right. It was recorded right after the death of Gaddafi in Libya in 2011, and a gloating Hillary was so broadly pleased with herself that you can argue for a kind of equivalence between her and her current opponent. Hell, I think she was channeling him! It was 2011, eight years after Iraq taught, or should have taught her and everyone else, that getting rid of the bad guy is the easy part, and that it is the aftermath where everything goes to hell in a hurry if you did not plan for the day after. Rep Tulsi Gabbard resigned from the DNC in order to support Sanders in part because she objected to military interventions which do not ask "What's next?" before proceeding to act. This video shows why. Therefore I can claim already to have bothered to look at instances of her acting similar to Trump.

          1. Regarding Hillary Clinton and Libya, she has been identified by Trump as if she was solely responsible for intervention there. But the first person to call for intervention was the French President Nicolas Sarcozy, and the first airstrikes were by French aircraft. At least, there was the fig leaf of a UN Security Council Resolution to back the intervention.

            In fact, Britain and France were far more prominent that the US, with boots on the ground as well as aircraft. And it was Cameron and Sarcozy who visited Benghazi to meet jubilant crowds in the revolution's aftermath.

            Yes, the ball was dropped, but not just by the US. The old imperial powers have more experience of this sort of thing, and France has been sending troops to prop up African regimes for decades. Obama was right to describe it as a "sh*t show" by his NATO partners. Libya, after all, is the EU's back yard the EU is paying a heavy price by now having to counteract the activities of people smugglers transporting refugees to Italy.

            The refugees being smuggled, btw, are not Libyans but mostly Africans from further south fleeing famine, economic chaos and civil wars. Libya has retained some civic coherence, and may be slowly coming together again.

        4. Part IV:

          But then I begin to draw a blank. Members of the RNC can furnish us with dozens of video links of Trump calling on his supporters to attack protesters, to drag them out on a stretcher, to take their coats and set them outside on a cold winter night, and other examples. Last week he said in front of cameras that he wanted to hit some of the DNC speakers so hard their heads would spin. He alleged that Ted Cruz' father was involved in the assassination of JFK, and this is available on demand.

          For this reason, I call on you to reciprocate and to do as I have done. First, dismiss all unproven allegations against Clinton as hearsay as I have dismissed all such allegations against Trump. Second, kindly produce matching video clips of Hillary acting like the Donald and show us evidence of her losing control of herself and the situation in a way that shows that she should go nowhere near the White House situation room under any circumstances.

          Isn't YouTube great?

    4. "I'm trying to figure out how his statements towards Trump weren't equally applicable to Hillary. What has she sacrificed? Maybe that time she came under sniper file in Bosnia? Oh, wait, she lied about that. "

      You are still trying to figure out a lot of things.

      1. You do accept that she lied about that, right? I understand that Tom Brokaw was very forgiving about it, for some reason.

    5. I'm trying to figure out how his statements towards Trump weren't equally applicable to Hillary.

      You mean other than Trump's denigration of Islam, which was the primary focus of Khan's speech?

  3. Trump's behavior, consistent with his character defect, is entirely predictable: https://medium.com/@Elamika/the-unbearable-lightn

    The power of the Khans' statements lies in, among other things, the clear contrast that people of conscience provide with a conscienceless narcissistic psychopath and his existence in the world. They help illuminate and underscore the stark divisions unearthed in this election season, the most important of which is that between a conscience and a lack of it.

  4. Brett, out of your list of alleged transgressions, I think most of them… even if true, which I don't concede… are essentially chickensh*t. And I hate chickensh*t allegations precisely because they can be cooked up about any of us, really. All these years of investigations and all there is is basically some billing stuff and a maybe case of a shady financial deal from a thousand years ago. Whatever. Seriously. (Whereas, I do think she should release those speeches.)

    Now, as to this rape business. After Cosby, it is less easy to look away from it. I never knew what to make of Broderick, and I did rather think, if he is really this bad, there must be others, and where are they? I can't call her (Broderick) a liar. I won't because I am in no way willing to do the deep dive into the case that it would take, to have real opinion on it. And I have no motive to do that, when it's just one allegation (albeit extremely serious). If this were true that would in fact be an important character flaw. Otoh… I also had always heard that rapists usually don't stop. But again, there can be exceptions to every rule, and that isn't even a rule.

    Still, I have to say that what I see you doing is kind of trying to tapdance away from the total indefensibility of Trump as a candidate. Yesterday, while arguing with friends on the same topic, I made the ultimate sacrifice ; ) of actually spending a couple minutes reading Trump's "platform" on healthcare. I encourage anyone on the fence about Trump to do this. In under 10 minutes I could see, in black and white, his total unsuitability for high office. Any reasonably intelligent 7th grader could do better and there is *no excuse* for what I saw. Go look. Healthcare is important, it's literally life and death, and he has no effing clue what to do, except criticize what others have done.

    You don't have to like, or vote for, HRC. By all means, keep it up in a fact based way if you want. And I will think a bit more about this husband business, bc it does bother me.

    But stop sticking up for Trump as if this were in any way respectable. It isn't. I don't think you're a troll but you have to give him up, for your own sake. It's like a woman going back to an abusive husband. I won't say it is okay. This is *not* okay, and he isn't okay.

    1. Where are the rest of them? Living on an island called Little St. James, I'd guess. My assessment is that Bill isn't preferentially a rapist, he just isn't too particular about consent. As an ex President, he doesn't lack for willing groupies, and he's getting on in years anyway. So, setting aside workplace sexual harassment, and his more recent predilection for statutory rape, he probably never, strictly speaking, committed rape that often. Just a lot more often than most men, who aren't rapists at all.

      Look, right back at you: You don't have to like or vote for Trump, either. But stop pretending Hillary is little miss innocent, rather than a very dirty pol who's really good at obstructing justice.

      I can see somebody who likes Hillary's policies more than Trump's being willing to excuse her criminality. Just as somebody who likes Trump's policies better than Hillary's will be willing to excuse his boorishness.

      But I don't try to pretend he's not boorish. Why do you have to pretend she isn't a crook?

      1. I don't think she is a criminal. In fact I feel pretty comfortable she's not… since, again, she's been investigated more than pretty much anyone. Comey doesn't strike me as a pushover. Very few people are "innocent" and I doubt I'd support one for president. I preferred Bernie. HRC though will meet my minimum standards nicely. And they are really quite low. Don't start unnecessary wars (though, I haven't much faith she'll finish our current unnecessary wars… but there is no such candidate) and don't bleep up the Supreme Court any further. I don't think I can be mistaken for an HRC cheerleader.

        Still, if she were a "criminal," (though of course she'd never run then) you are correct I would still choose her over Trump. It would have to be something very serious otherwise. Bush/Cheney got something like 100,000 Iraqis killed, and killed and injured thousands of our finest youth. So a bad president is really worth avoiding.

        Look maybe this is coming off as condescending, when it's not meant that way. It's not your fault the GOP got stuck with this guy. Thing is, Trump doesn't even have "policies" as we normally define them. Language means nothing to him and he has no attention span. Do you really think you know what he would do if elected? The part I don't understand is, do T supporters actually believe what he says? This question I find fascinating. I understand being angry, since I am too. I understand not being in love with Hillary, from the other side perspective. But do people actually trust this guy? That, I don't get.

        1. " I don't understand is, do T supporters actually believe what he says?"

          No, mostly they think, "None of the rest even had enough respect for us to even bother lying to us about doing what we want."

          What they're hoping is that, not really caring about policy, but having put these things, like the list of Supreme court nominees, out there, he'll end up doing some of it just as the course of least resistance. While they know that most of the rest of the field are actively determined to screw them over.

  5. Re the Colorado Springs incident, yet more evidence that Trump not only can't manage his way out of a paper bag but also doesn't know how to hire people who do know how to manage–you know, "the best people." The first and most basic thing you do in planning an event is match attendees to venue: if you have an estimated attendance, you select your venue accordingly; if you have a venue already set, you invite or sell tickets only to the number of people who will fit in that space. It's not rocket science: most public use rooms have occupation capacity prominently posted.

    Trump would do better to fire his arrangements committee and hire half a dozen high school seniors. I bet they'd get it right.

  6. Trump is at it again today, this time in Columbus, Ohio. http://www.cnn.com/2016/08/01/politics/donald-tru… shows the footage of the candidate insinuating that the fire marshal was acting politically in limiting the occupancy of a venue to 1000 people, even though the room is big enough to hold considerably more. Again, the fire marshal explains that the limits are based not only on the square footage of the hall but on the number of exits and the fact that there is construction blocking some of them. For Trump, though, it is a personal insult and must have been motivated by support for Hillary.

    WARNING, AMERICA: This is how that man will act in the situation room if the generals explain to him that some course of action he wants to embark upon will result in disaster and in numerous unnecessary military casualties. He will take their advice as an insult and will disregard their detailed knowledge of circumstances and terrain as if it were being put forth for dishonorable reasons.

    We the people are being given a clear view of the future in which this man is Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States. I will guaran-damn-tee you that Hillary will listen to the same generals and show their advice the respect that it will deserve.

  7. If the Trump campaign hadn't demonstrated its ineptness in so many ways, I'd suspect that the recurring venue issue was part of a carefully reasoned strategy. After months of campaigning with no significant venue issues, Trump suddenly starts renting spaces far too small for the expected attendance (and for the tickets the campaign gives out). In EdWhitney's link, immediately above, the fire marshal makes clear that the room capacity had been agreed to by all parties well ahead of time (as will surprise no one who has ever had to book a venue).

    In Colorado Springs, we have the overcrowded room with supporters vainly waiting to get inside, in Columbus the room that could "clearly" hold many more people–and again thousands of supporters waiting to get inside.

    Both of these cases connect strategically with two important elements of the developing narrative. The first, of long standing, is that Trump is being treated unfairly. But the new narrative element is that Hillary's operatives are everywhere in positions of authority, trying to stop him, and doing so by using those pesky, nasty government regulations. ("Government regulations are bad" is of course a truism on the right, so there's that connection as well.)

    Of course, Trump's supporters know that they would have no chance of making their voices heard over the local government's control of where you can assemble and how many people you can invite–or in fact of much of anything–but Trump will be heard. And that's another part of the narrative: "I am your voice."

    As I said, the general ineptitude of the Trump campaign would support the idea that they're not doing this intentionally. But it could be mistaken for an awfully well-planned strategy.

    1. This is why I keep waiting for this stuff to explode and take over the headlines for a while. Some people who are not that bothered by an attack on a Middle Eastern man and his wife will be bothered by attacks on white men wearing blue uniforms.

      Maybe no one else thinks that this is a big deal, but to me it looks like a loser for Trump to be seen in a display of snarling contempt for a trained professional who is doing his job. Am I making a mountain out of a molehill? Colorado Springs is my hometown so perhaps this whole thing looks bigger to me than it actually is. For this to be a non-story at the national level for several days is a mystery to me.

      1. I think "he's a Democrat" and "this is politics at its lowest" (i.e., he's a Hillary operative) counter the "conflict with a white man in uniform" set-up, at least for Trump supporters, for whom the rule seems to be "if you're not with us, you're against us." It's worth remembering, as well, that politicians in general and Republicans in particular tend to give very strong public and vocal support to police, but don't pay a great deal of attention to firefighters, witness the problems 9/11 first responders had getting Congress to support their healthcare needs.

        Not to forget, Trump long ago leaped over the Great White Shark of Disrespect to American Military Heroes when he dissed John McCain for being a POW.

        I honestly don't know what group he could show disrespect to that could really hurt him with his followers. Maybe if he really ripped into Nathan Bedford Forrest?

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