This latest observation by the President is in direct response to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's attack against the Muslim parents of an Army Captain who was killed in the line of duty in Iraq. This has brought about a whole slew of denouncements from both Democrats and Republicans who all agree that while there may not be too many things that are out of bounds during this election season, attacking the parents of dead soldiers is one of them. Journalist Ezra Klein captures the reason why this is problematic here:
Perhaps the most puzzling thing about this attack, is that it's yet another example among several examples of unforced errors that Trump has inflicted upon himself. Instead of attacking his opponent, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, he is easily distracted by these side issues where he apparently feels the need to respond to any and every slight made against him. We're not exactly sure how Mr. Trump would achieve any of the grandiose campaign promises that he has made over the past year, but what we do know is that if you criticize the Trump brand he will pounce on you with no mercy. That I can tell you. Believe me.
It's important to note that we've now come to an unprecedented point in America presidential politics, where the big question of the day has nothing to do with policies or issues, liberals or conservatives, but rather whether or not one of the major party's presidential candidate is actually crazy. That's where we are now. This is actually a thing.
Per the Washington Post:
During the primary season, as Donald Trump’s bizarre outbursts helped him crush the competition, I thought he was being crazy like a fox. Now I am increasingly convinced that he’s just plain crazy.I’m serious about that. Leave aside for the moment Trump’s policies, which in my opinion range from the unconstitutional to the un-American to the potentially catastrophic. At this point, it would be irresponsible to ignore the fact that Trump’s grasp on reality appears to be tenuous at best.
Begin with the fact that he lies the way other people breathe. Telling a self-serving lie — no matter how transparent, no matter how easily disproved — seems to be a reflex for him. Look at the things he has said in just the past week...
It is theoretically possible, I suppose, that Trump is telling the truth and everyone else is lying — although in the case of the Putin relationship, it’s Trump’s word against Trump’s. Or perhaps the lies about the NFL and the Koch brothers are little things. But he also lies about big things — claiming, for example, that he opposed the Iraq War and the Libya intervention all along, when the record shows that initially he supported both. No, Trump is clearly a liar.
Also, he’s alarmingly thin-skinned. Referring to critics who spoke at the Democratic National Convention, Trump said Thursday that he wanted to “hit a number of those speakers so hard, their heads would spin.” And: “I was going to hit one guy in particular, a very little guy.” Trump made clear Friday on Twitter that he was talking about “ ‘Little’ Michael Bloomberg, who never had the guts to run for president.”
One wonders if Republican leaders have begun to realize that they may have hitched their fate and the fate of their party to a man with a disordered personality. We can leave it to the professionals to determine exactly what to call it. Suffice to say that Donald Trump’s response to the assorted speakers at the Democratic National Convention has not been rational.Why denigrate the parents of a soldier who died serving his country in Iraq? And why keep it going for four days? Why assail the record of a decorated general who commanded U.S. forces in Afghanistan? Why make fun of the stature of a popular former mayor of New York? Surely Trump must know that at any convention, including his own, people get up and criticize the opposition party’s nominee. They get their shots in, just as your party got its shots in. And then you move on to the next phase of the campaign. You don’t take a crack at every single person who criticized you. And you especially don’t pick fights that you can’t possibly win, such as against a grieving Gold Star mother or a general. It’s simply not in your interest to do so.
The fact that Trump could not help himself, that he clearly did, as he said, want to “hit” everyone who spoke against him at the Democratic convention, suggests that there really is something wrong with the man. It is not just that he is incapable of empathy. It is not just that he feels he must respond to every criticism he receives by attacking and denigrating the critic, no matter how small or inconsequential the criticism. If you are a Republican, the real problem, and the thing that ought to keep you up nights as we head into the final 100 days of this campaign, is that the man cannot control himself.
That said, there's a long way to go between now and November, and anything could happen. But remember this, the 47% comment that defined Mitt Romney's presidential bid occurred in September of 2012. He was never able to overcome that narrative. Similarly, it was also in September when the National Review (a conservative-leaning magazine) finally threw in the towel on Sarah Palin which ended up costing John McCain the 2008 election. So although we're currently in the month of August, insurmountable narratives have a way of developing a few months before election day. If Trump is unable to turn the page on this narrative that he is temperamentally unfit for the office of President by next month, it's likely that it will stick with him all the way to November.