Donald Trump has become a favorite of cartoonists, thanks to his flapping hair and his flapping mouth. That's not necessarily a good thing, because it's easy to be lazy when the target is so inviting. This Jeff Danziger piece is one of the more articulate ones.
As for most of the rest, well, yes, Trump has silly hair. And Chris Christie is fat. You don't have to ignore those things, but when they become the focus of your commentary, it's not only lazy, but suggests that maybe his policies aren't so bad, if the best you can do is make fun of his looks.
If your considered position is that Donald Trump should not be president, taking him seriously might be worthwhile.
His statement on John McCain's service seems like an automatic campaign-killer, especially since he has refused to issue the standard non-apology-apology.
In another era, it would, of course, put him in the dustbin. In the early 80s, a Colorado legislator, in the course of debating whether to issue POW license plates, opined that he didn't think the state should honor people for throwing down their weapons and giving up.
He apologized for having said it, but nobody could get him to come out and say whether he still believed it. Didn't matter: His political career was over.
But that was a long time ago in a very different world.
We've come to the point now where the KKK can march in support of the Confederate flag, scream racial epithets at counter-protesters and still find supporters who will explain that, in fact, it's racist to ask people not to use the N-word, and that people only voted for Obama because of his race and so they, in fact, are the real racists.
And that's not just since the advent of Facebook: We sent our young people off to war without proper armor and, when a soldier in Kuwait asked Donald Rumsfeld about inadequate armor on Humvees, the "shit happens, pal" explanation was mocked by doves but accepted by the hawks.
Later on, when Rumseld denied a report that the army was stretched thin, Tom Toles questioned the response and not only did hawks in general go nuts but his cartoon drew a letter from the Joint Chiefs condemning it.
So now Trump is continuing to say that McCain is no hero, and justifying it by declaring that he supports our veterans more than McCain does, and tracking that down is a case of nailing Jell-O to the wall, because you can find proof of damn near any claim on the Internet.
Including the claim that Trump is a draft-dodger, because he took four (OMG, four!) deferments during the Vietnam War.
And were the standard 2-S deferments that about half the draft-age men in America took, even if they signed up upon graduation, as many did.
Listen up, children: You can argue the merits of the 2-S, and we did, but, while lots of rich boys got their medical deferments by having the family doctor write a dubious excuse after their student deferments ran out, Smoking Gun reports that Trump flunked his physical.
The 1-Y classification came a month after Trump underwent an “Armed Forces Physical Examination,” according to Selective Service records, which note the results of the exam as “DISQ.” While the military records do not further detail why Trump was granted the 1-Y deferment, a 1992 biography of the businessman by journalist Wayne Barrett reported that Trump received a medical deferment following the September 17, 1968 exam.
Not that rich boys didn't show up at their physicals with those letters in hand, but, absent any proof of that, calling Trump a "draftdodger" is as dishonest as claiming the Confederate flag is a symbol of heritage or that Planned Parenthood profits from the sale of baby parts.
To which I would add that, if you have to lie to make Donald Trump look like a jackass, perhaps that's a stone you ought not to throw.
There is a question about why the media continues to pay attention to such an obvious fool, which Danziger asked back in 2008 when Trump endorsed Mitt Romney.
But Trump wasn't the candidate, so the question was valid.
At this stage, whether Trump's poll numbers are driven by media attention or not, the fact remains that his remarks are not hurting him with the GOP's core constituency, and the idea that "if we ignore him, he'll just go away" seems like a kind of a pre-Internet attitude.
A more interesting and pertinent issue is the nature of that "core constituency," and goes back to McCain's charge that Trump has "fired up the crazies."
As the New Yorker article reported:
“We have a very extreme element within our Republican Party,” McCain said. He then noted that he was personally censured by Arizona Republicans in January of 2014 and has been fighting to push out the extremists in the state G.O.P. ever since. “We did to some degree regain control of the Party.”
Maybe in Arizona. Maybe "to some degree."
The question of who gets to choose the candidates remains lively, however, and it's worth asking how much the results of the past two presidential elections were due to the appeal of Barack Obama versus the un-appeal of the GOP candidates.
It's not entirely an issue of having bat-shit crazies dominate the voting in primaries, either, given that McCain himself was seen as a viable, electable "maverick" until he crowned his nomination by choosing Sarah Palin as his runningmate and shifting his campaign to the fringe.
In any case -- whatever the difference between those who vote in primaries and those who vote in the general election -- the Republicans don't have to come up with a "good" candidate in order to have substantial financial backing in the coming race, and, if that approach hasn't always worked, it hasn't always failed.
I would suggest that those who believe in good government do something more than laugh at Donald Trump.
Bearing in mind that it's only the last laugh that matters.