August 3, 2016

Wondering, on Wednesday (v61)

So, what was the most memorable moment of the 'Dems in Philly' love-fest?

It wasn't the taking down of Debbie Wasserman Schultz, or the protests of the Berners, or the extraordinarily well orchestrated signage deployed by convention staffers and volunteers (they were really good at that, though). 

It wasn't the videos that were shown to introduce some of the speakers, or to introduce Hillary, a woman who's been in the public eye for half my life, to the audience. It wasn't the general who warned us how scary it would be if the other guy became president, or even Kareem Abdul Jabbar pretending he was Michael Jordan. It certainly wasn't Katie Perry.  

No, the most memorable moment for me was the speech by Gold Star father Khizr Khan, and of course the endless reaction of Donald Trump. 

Comparisons have been made between the appearance of the Khans, who lost their son in Iraq in 2004, and the appearance in Cleveland of Pat Smith, the mother of one of the soldiers killed in the attack on the American embassy in Libya. I saw both of them, but was left with completely different emotions after watching them. At the time, I was horrified for Smith; I couldn't imagine her pain, or the pain of being trotted out by the Republicans in yet another chapter of the ongoing Benghazi investigation. You don't have to agree with me, but that's honestly what it felt like watching it.  The Republicans will not let go of Benghazi, ever - and it felt (again, to me) as if they were victimizing Smith all over again. 

My feelings on this were to some degree validated, if that's the right word, when I saw that Ambassador Chris Stevens' mother had some advice for the Republicans, published in the NY Times. 
As Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens's mother, I am writing to object to any mention of his name and death in Benghazi, Libya, by Donald Trump's campaign and the Republican Party.  I know for certain that Chris would not have wanted his name or memory used in that connection. I hope that there will be a permanent stop to this opportunistic and cynical use by the campaign. 
That's how quote unquote Benghazi makes me feel. But that was not how the Khans made me feel.

I was moved by the silence of  Captain Khan's mother, and moved by the words of his father, but not horrified by them as I was a week earlier. I  was struck by his comment that Donald Trump "had sacrificed nothing" and no, I did not start ticking off a list of Democrats who also had not made similar sacrifices.

Why, you might be wondering? Because, for example, the list of people I'm aware of  who compared their sexual exploits in the 80's as their 'personal Vietnam" only has one name on it. That name is Donald Trump.
I've been so lucky in terms of that whole world. It is a dangerous world out there. It's scary, like Vietnam. Sort of like the Vietnam era. It is my personal Vietnam. I feel like a great and very brave soldier. 
Why, you might be wondering? Because Trump has been parading his love of "the veterans" throughout his campaign, with mixed results, which you can read about here and here on this blog, and all over the Internet.

Why, you might be wondering? Because at precisely the time Smith was on stage at the Republican convention, Trump called in to the Republican News Network, Fox, and so they cut away from what was happening on stage and focused their attention on Trump instead of on the clearly grieving mom.

Why, you might be wondering?  Well, it seems clear in the days since the convention ended that Trump has doubled down, tripled down, even quadrupled down on the Khans with his own comments and those from his surrogates, including one who placed the blame on Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, apparently not realizing that Khan perished in Operation Iraqi Freedom, in 2004.

Do I wonder, has this all spiraled out of control? No need to wonder on that - of course it has. Do I wonder whether that spiral was instigated by the Khans or by Trump? No need to wonder on that, either, at least for me; I think the culprit here is clear.

Do I wonder whether I was less than empathetic to Pat Smith? No need to wonder on that, either.

Because I was.