Almost on cue, Donald Trump had a meltdown after the Democratic convention ended Thursday night to positive reviews. He launched a Twitter storm, whined that Hillary Clinton had not congratulated him (what, is he 10 years old?) and insisted that he had nothing to do with the much-criticized Republican convention. Despite previous statements that he was going to put on a great show in Cleveland, Trump insisted that all he did was show up to give a speech.
Saturday he demonstrated how utterly despicable he is when in an ABC interview he attacked the Gold Star mother who stood by her husband Khizr Khan at the Democratic convention. Trump declared, “[L]ook at his wife, she was standing there. She had nothing to say. She probably, maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say. You tell me,” Trump continued. “But a plenty of people have written that. She was extremely quiet, and it looked like she had nothing to say. A lot of people have said that.” Actually, no one in public life but Trump would say something so cruel. But then the billionaire bigot was twisted enough to compare himself to parents who lost a child. Trump replied to Khan’s statement that Trump has given “nothing” and “sacrificed nothing” by insisting he had sacrificed, too, because he employed people and gave charitable donations. Trump once again proves he is a moral monster.
This all comes after his outburst on Thursday, when he threatened (or was it sarcasm?) violence: “I mean, the things that were said about me. I was going to hit a number of those speakers so hard their heads would spin, they’d never recover!” He continued, “I was going to hit one guy in particular, a very little guy. I was going to hit this guy so hard his head would spin. He wouldn’t know what the hell happened.” That would appear to be former New York City mayor and billionaire Michael Bloomberg (who is worth about six times what Trump claims he is worth, which is widely believed to be exaggerated). It’s almost as if he were bent on proving Clinton’s point that he is dangerously ill-suited to the presidency. Trump was having a miserable week before all that, ever since he was slammed for his comments about Russia’s alleged hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s computer and hinting that Russian President Vladimir Putin might get to keep Crimea.
A YouGov poll showed that voters by a wide margin (54 to 30 percent) think Trump’s comment suggesting that Russia should look for Clinton’s deleted emails was inappropriate. A substantial plurality (40 percent) think he is too friendly toward Russia. Former CIA and National Security Agency director Gen.(Ret.) Michael Hayden observed, “Either he wanted Russian security services to capture the related State Department emails, which is problematic. Or he wanted the Russian government to capture the private emails of a person protected by the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. constitution, which is equally problematic. So I just find it to be an incredibly stunning commentary.” As for Trump’s comments on Article V of the NATO charter, Hayden remarked that “to create doubt in the minds of a potential adversary that you wouldn’t respond to an attack is a very dangerous thing.”
While Trump is the object of ridicule in the United States for his bromance with Putin, our allies don’t think he is the slightest bit amusing. In Japan, public- and private-sector officials expressed astonishment and alarm at Trump’s rise. “There are no Trump supporters among officials in Tokyo, and it seems reasonable to say there are none in any other allied or just plain friendly capital: Seoul, Taipei, or Canberra (or for that matter New Delhi) facing China, Jerusalem or Riyadh or Amman or Abu Dhabi facing Iran, Warsaw or Vilnius or Prague or Kiev facing Russia,” former deputy national security adviser Elliott Abrams writes. Trump likes to say that President Obama is not respected overseas; should Trump get elected, God forbid, our allies may pine for Obama.
For Eastern Europe, Trump is a nightmare. “I was born in 1970 in Siauliai, Lithuania. I grew up during some of the darkest days of the Soviet system, where many were afraid not only to speak up but even celebrate Christmas,” said Erika Veberyte, former chief foreign policy adviser to the speaker of her country’s parliament and diplomatic adviser to the acting president between 2001 and 2006. She told me: “Almost every family in Lithuania had someone killed or deported by KGB. I was 19 and a student at Vilnius University during the events of January 13, 1991, when we rallied to stand up to Soviet tanks.” For Lithuanians (not unlike other former captives under Soviet rule), Trump and Putin are constant worries. “The media and politicians are continuously sounding alarm bells as Russia’s soft power of propaganda is extremely well funded and is constantly felt in Lithuania,” she said. “Obviously events in Ukraine have raised alarm bells, and the current government is working hard to increase defense spending. The level of concern is particularly high among those who experienced Soviet domination and . . . joined their parents defending Lithuania’s independence in 1991 and rebuilding independent Lithuania.”
Veberyte continued, “Our children are born in a free country and we want to see it that way. The progress we have made and the opportunities we have experienced cannot be compared to our censorship and freedom lacking childhood and early youth.” As for Trump, she said, “Since Lithuania joined NATO, we strongly believe that NATO’s Article 5 is equally valid to any and all NATO members. Thus, when such items are questioned by a U.S. presidential candidate, naturally, anxiety level increases.”
Rather than listening to himself (“I have a very good brain“) and his pro-Russian lackeys, Trump might want to get out of Trump Tower and talk to real people who understand Putin better than he. Veberyte said: “Having watched, lived, and been a part of Lithuania’s transition from a Soviet-occupied state to a democratic member of the E.U. and NATO, I understand how precious and fragile democracies are to keep the flame lit.” She added, “I hope America will continue to be a role model for those of us who sprung free of authoritarian rule and not become like other countries, where nationalism is accepted as a normal phenomenon. I want to believe that its voters will choose the candidate that would guarantee it to be an exceptional nation, as they have always perceived it.” We do, too.