CARSON CITY, Nevada — The woman, in a quiet voice, stood before the crowd of hundreds at a town hall-style event here with Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and announced that her son serves in the Air Force. The crowd applauded.
Did someone say veteran? Good, I like where this is going. I can work with this. Fingers crossed she says she was going to get an abortion but changed her mind, and her son killed bin Laden. That would be great. She’s about to say that, right?
But then the woman said, “Time and time again, [Donald] Trump has disrespected our nation’s armed forces and veterans. And his disrespect for Mr. Khan … ”
Wait, what the mudflap? Ah man, I really didn’t want to have to think about this. I issued a statement where I said that my candidate believes the opposite of what he keeps, keeps saying. God in Muncie, he won’t shut up about it. Uh oh- I think I hear the ritual Bellowing of Lungs.
The reaction of the crowd was immediate and fierce, drowning out her words.
The crowd began to boo as she tried to get through her question. The woman, who was subsequently identified as Catherine Byrne of Carson City, continued to speak through the jeers.
“Why are you here?” one woman shouted as the boos rained down.
I get it. These are good boos. We’re going to support the troops, and boo the tar out of anyone who actually makes us think about what that could mean.
But, over the boos and taunts, Byrne continued to speak.
“You’ve got a son in the military, how do you tolerate this disrespect?” she asked Pence.
OK, time to quiet this down by pretending like I hear her. You know what will calm this situation down? Some stirring platitudes.
Finally, after allowing the boos to continue for about 10 seconds, Pence moved to quiet the crowd.
“That’s OK,” he said. Trump’s running mate then repeated a line he deployed when confronted by protesters in Ohio last week: “That’s what freedom looks like, and that’s what freedom sounds like.”
Attaboy, Pence. Smooth as the White River in December. It’s a nice way to condescend to her. Freedom looks like letting a crazy person say off-the-wall things while getting jeered by the local Bob Evan’s Militia. Still, let’s pretend that if I say something, people will think it is an official campaign statement.
Pence responded by praising the fallen Capt. Humayun Khan and his family. Khan’s parents, Khizr and Ghazala, have been in the news since speaking last week at the Democratic National Convention and finding themselves criticized by Trump.
“Capt. Khan is an American hero and we honor him and honor his family,” he said. “The story of Capt. Khan is an incredibly inspiring story.”
That’s good, but how can I really lie now? Time to be the good running mate, and pretend that I didn’t strap into a bumper-car ride in a hall of broken mirrors. I’m going to say something stirring, and something that Donald will be sure to like. This is actually pretty fun. I get to talk about abortion all the time, and when Donald says something outrageous, I can just chuckle, and go on the say the sun rises in the west. It’s like in my old talk radio days, or when I said that Baghdad was like a nice Indiana farmer’s market. That’s one of the reasons I was brought on: to say the dumbest, most opposite-of-reality things, and say them handsomely.
But Pence went on to defend Trump.
“I have never been around someone more devoted to the armed forces of this country,” Pence said of Trump. There is “no one more devoted to the veterans in this country.”
Note: these quotes tell you a lot about how a victimization complex, paranoia, and a misunderstanding of how politics and the country work have led to the Trump campaign.
Barbara Weisenthal, 56, said she was among those booing and that Khizr Khan did not have the “right” to say what he did about Trump at the convention. His speech “was almost like slander,” she said.
Of Byrne who asked the question, Weisenthal said it was “probably not the best place to do that.”
Jack Christenson, himself a veteran, said Byrne may have had the right to ask her question, but not “to violate everyone else’s rights,” which he said she did by speaking out at the event.
“She was claiming that Trump was somehow insulting the veterans,” said Roen Horn, 29. He called that idea “a bunch of crap.”
“She was politicizing the veterans,” she said. “She had an agenda.”