If it was unclear before if John McCain was going to be a major thorn in the side of Donald Trump, that was cleared up this morning when Trump tweeted that McCain “emboldens the enemy.”
This all goes back to the fated Yemen anti-terrorism mission of a few weeks ago, in which two Americans were killed — Chief Petty Officer William “Ryan” Owens and a young American girl — along with many others.
It’s questionable to what degree the raid was a success. As the NYT put it, “almost everything that could go wrong did.” (It’s an excellent NYT piece, that walks you through a lot of the criticism of the raid.)
Not only were there American deaths, but also some of the highest-profile intelligence that the raid obtained wasn’t even real. In an attempt to prove how successful the raid was, the Trump administration published a ten-year-old terrorist training video and tried to pass it off as “new” intelligence found at the scene of the raid.
Once criticism of the raid started mounting, the Trump White House then tried to claim that this was really a raid planned by the Obama administration. We then found out that in fact, the Obama administration refused to approve the raid.
That didn’t stop Trump and company from claiming that the raid was a wild success, and anyone saying otherwise was un-American. Which is pretty cheeky from a White House that thinks America has no better morals than Putin’s Russia.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer weighs in. From the Hill:
“The life of Chief Ryan Owens was done in service to his country and we owe him and his family a great debt for the information we received during that raid,” Spicer said. “Any suggestion otherwise is a disservice to his courageous life and the actions he took. Full stop.”
McCain then responded:
“Many years ago, when I was imprisoned in North Vietnam, there was an attempt to rescue the POWs,” McCain said. “Unfortunately, the prison had been evacuated, but the brave men who took — risked their lives in an effort to rescue us prisoners of war were genuine American heroes.
“Because the mission failed did not in any way diminish their courage and willingness to help their fellow Americans who were help captive. Mr. Spicer should know that story.”
And none of this has stopped Donald Trump from criticizing our intervention in Iraq. Was that criticism a disservice to the thousands of American service members who died in that war?
Of course, incapable of letting sleeping dogs lie, Trump himself had to weigh in this morning on Twitter. Read from the bottom up:
Trump was eligible for the draft during Vietnam, but didn’t get drafted first because of an education deferment, then because Trump alleged he had “bone spurs” in his heels.
John McCain had no such “bone spurs.”
What’s particularly interesting about Trump’s remarks is just how politically stupid they are. McCain is the chairman of the US Senate Armed Services Committee, a highly influential position. He’s someone the Trump administration needs on their side. Trump’s ongoing attacks on McCain during the campaign — and now attacking McCain’s patriotism! –pretty much ensure that McCain isn’t going to be doing Trump any favors in the years ahead.
And at some point, when Trump’s poll numbers start to hurt Congress’ own re-election chances, Trump is going to need all the friends he can get.
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