How low can he go? That’s the question I have to ask after watching Donald Trump exploit in the audience a young woman suffering from a rare disease, families whose loved ones were slain by two illegal immigrants, and the widow of a Navy SEAL who died on a U.S. ground mission into Yemen.
I know this is not politically correct to write about, and the two newspapers I read in the morning certainly didn’t. “A MORE TEMPERATE TRUMP: He sketches out a bold, broad agenda in his first speech to Congress,” read the Los Angeles Times’ banner headline. “BEFORE CONGRESS, TRUMP URGES END TO ‘TRIVIAL FIGHTS,’” said the New York Times.
The headlines might otherwise have read: “TRUMP USES VICTIMS AND THEIR FAMILIES TO COVER OVER FALSEHOODS AND PERPETRATE POLICIES.”
Let me take each case in point:
- “Today is Rare Disease Day, and joining us in the gallery is a rare disease survivor, Megan Crowley,” Trump told the assembled as the TV homed in on the young woman in her wheelchair. No doubt it is true that her father “founded a company to look for a cure and helped develop the drug that saved Megan’s life. Today she is 20 years old and a sophomore at Notre Dame.”
A moving story, yes, but an example used by Trump to attack “our slow and burdensome approval process at the Food and Drug Administration [that] keeps too many advances, like the one that saved Megan’s life, from reaching those in need.”
The truth – and you can read about it on the Regulatory Affairs Professional Society’s website, www.raps.org – is that the girl’s treatment for Pompe disease was approved in 2006 by the FDA after nine months of review. According to the article, that’s “less time than for most generic drugs, and based on less data than what a drug for a non-rare disease would need for approval.”
The FDA can’t just slash its own approval standards without Congress modifying the laws that established them. And “how the approval process will become faster, less expensive and still keep Americans safe has yet to be revealed.” I, for one, sure don’t want Big Pharma running wild and ramming more cures down our throats.
- Shortly after introducing young Megan, Trump announced that he’d ordered the Department of Homeland Security to create a new office called VOICE, Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement. (Look for musical acronyms to become more popular with this administration). Then he continued: “Joining us in the audience tonight are four very brave Americans whose government failed them.” A 17-year-old son had been “viciously murdered by an illegal immigrant gang member who had just been released from prison.” The law enforcement husbands of two women were “viciously gunned down by an illegal immigrant with a criminal deportations. Should never have been in our country,” Trump said.
Check out the website of the Southern Border Communities Coalition (www.southernborder.org), which keeps track of how “since January 2010, at least 46 people have died as the result of an encounter with U.S. border agents.” Maybe Trump should have introduced the relatives of two Mexicans fatally shot by those agents within a five-week period in the summer of 2016 in Laredo, Texas, and Yuma, Arizona.
This morning, in San Diego, came word that the U.S. government is finalizing a $1 million settlement with the family of Anastasio Hernandez Rojas, slain in 2010, “following years of stalled investigations and denials that border agents did anything wrong.”
This is not to mention the estimated 94 Latinos killed by U.S. police in the first half-year of 2016, though of course many of these people were probably not here illegally. (See a PBS Newshour article, “Why aren’t more people talking about Latinos killed by police?” published July 14, 2016.)
- Trump capped his presentations with zooming in on Carryn Owens, the widow of U.S.Navy special operator, Senior Chief William “Ryan” Owens. As viewers watched her weep and look to the heavens, the ovation went on for well over a minute. Trump, meanwhile, “just spoke to our great General [Jim] Mattis just now who reconfirmed that, and I quote, ‘Ryan was part of a highly successful raid that generated large amounts of vital intelligence that will lead to many more victories in the future against our enemy.’”
Well, Ryan’s father apparently doesn’t go along with that “highly successful raid” story. The Navy SEAL died on January 29, on a rare American military mission into Yemen. Trump failed to mention that, besides the 14 al-Qaida militants killed in the attack, so were over 20 civilians including women and children. But we didn’t see any of their faces on the screen.
“Don’t hide behind my son’s death to prevent an investigation,” William Owens, a military veteran himself, told the Miami Herald newspaper prior to Trump’s speech. He also said: “Why at this time did there have to be this stupid mission when it wasn’t even barely a week into his administration? Why? For two years prior, there were no boots on the ground in Yemen – everything was missiles and drones – because there was not a target worth one American life. Now, all of a sudden we had to make this grand display?”
But Mr. Owens, did you hear the president say that “Ryan’s legacy is etched into eternity?” Don’t you realize that shameless grand displays are all this new administration is about? Hadn’t he been elected when “the people turned out by the tens of millions, and they were all united by one very simple, but crucial demand, that America must put its own citizens first, because only then can we truly make America great again.”
Where is the chief counsel for the U.S. Army who will stand up and ask, as Joseph Welch did to Senator Joe McCarthy in 1954, “Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?”