This weekend, the Beltway media is doing what it does best - grabbing its pitchforks in search of someone to burn at the stake. The unlucky victim is Donald Trump, who made some intemperate remarks about John McCain in Iowa on Saturday, seeming to question McCain's military heroism when that conduct is plain to all (though an earlier Trump zinger about McCain graduating at the bottom of his class at the Naval Academy was right on the mark).
Trump's competitors for the Republican nomination for President quickly joined the pile on, denouncing him and coming to McCain's aid (as if the senior senator from Arizona, an object of reverence among the DC chattering class, needed it). Everyone seems to agree this is the moment the Trump bubble will burst as quiet calls to bar him from the upcoming debate grow louder and his foolishness is put on greater display.
The other question which has been raised by people like Chuck Todd is whether the comment itself disqualifies Trump from being President (this is a favored Chuck Todd trope, he famously declared Alison Grimes disqualified from being a Senator because she would not disclose to a reporter who she voted for for President). It is a layup question that appeals to the facile nature of political analysis, but is what Trump said about McCain any more disqualifying than Rick Perry not remembering which three federal departments he wants to shutter, or Ted Cruz's climate denialism, or Scott Walker refusing to say whether he believes in evolution, or Jeb Bush's treatment of Terri Schiavo, or Rick Santorum darkly warning on "man-dog" love if gay marriage was legalized, or McCain, for that matter, when he selected Sarah Palin as his running mate when she was clearly unfit to hold national office?
The other hypocrisy in all of this is the reflexive protection of military service. Once upon a time, Republicans made it a part of their playbook to disparage Democrats who had served - think the "purple heart band-aid" brigade at the 2004 Republican National Convention mocking John Kerry or the disgusting attacks on triple-amputee Max Cleland in 2002. Where once the Republican National Committee led such attacks, now they suddenly care about what one of their own says about another? Puh-leaze.