If you thought that publicly smearing the family of a fallen soldier would be enough for the GOP establishment to sever its ties with Donald Trump, think again.
In the days since the Trump campaign went on the offensive against the late Captain Humayun Khan's parents Khizr and Ghazala over their emotional denunciation of his candidacy at the Democratic National Convention, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Paul Ryan, and onetime presidential nominee John McCain have all slammed their party's standard bearer, while tacitly maintaining that he is still nevertheless best suited to lead the country.
"Captain Khan was an American hero, and like all Americans I’m grateful for the sacrifices that selfless young men like Capt. Khan and their families have made in the war on terror," McConnell said in a brief statement posted to his Senate web page. "All Americans should value the patriotic service of the patriots who volunteer to selflessly defend us in the armed services."
"And as I have long made clear, I agree with the Khans and families across the country that a travel ban on all members of a religion is simply contrary to American values.," McConnell continued, referring to Trump's frequently modulated (or as the candidate himself put it, expanded) proposal to stop Muslims from entering the United States.
McConnell offered a tepid endorsement of Trump in May, explaining that he has "committed to supporting the nominee chosen by Republican voters."
In a similar statement to McConnell's, House Speaker Ryan pushed back against Trump's latest efforts, referring to Khizr and Ghazala by name, and reiterating his opposition to Trump's proposed travel ban.
"America's greatness is built on the principles of liberty and preserved by the men and women who wear the uniform to defend it. As I have said on numerous occasions, a religious test for entering our country is not reflective of these fundamental values. I reject it," Ryan wrote on his website Sunday. "Many Muslim Americans have served valiantly in our military, and made the ultimate sacrifice. Captain Khan was one such brave example. His sacrifice—and that of Khizr and Ghazala Khan—should always be honored. Period."
In his endorsement of Trump earlier this year, Ryan acknowledged he and the candidate had their differences, but concluded that "on the issues that make up our agenda, we have more common ground than disagreement."
Despite their forceful protestations, neither of the GOP's two congressional leaders seemed prepared to withdraw their support for Trump altogether.
Neither did John McCain, the Arizona senator once accused by Trump of not being a war hero himself. After voicing his lukewarm support for Trump in early May, saying it would be "foolish to ignore" the voters, McCain described Trump's attacks on the Khan family as not representative of "the views of our Republican Party, its officers, or candidates," despite the fact that Trump is, in fact, exactly that—the Republican Party's candidate.
"In recent days, Donald Trump disparaged a fallen soldier’s parents. He has suggested that the likes of their son should not be allowed in the United States — to say nothing of entering its service," McCain said. "I cannot emphasize enough how deeply I disagree with Mr. Trump’s statement."
Disagree, but not disavow.
Neither will Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who said the Khans "deserve our respect, no matter what the political situation is." But, the former Trump opponent added later “going forward, I believe that any of the Republicans running is better than Hillary Clinton." It's a line that echoed Walker's Trump endorsement during the Republican National Convention, where he stated "Let me be clear, a vote for anyone other than Donald Trump in November is a vote for Hillary Clinton."
If cognitive dissonance could be monetized, these guys would make the GOP the party of rich white guys.