After Khan Attack, Doris Kearns Goodwin Compares Trump to Joe McCarthy

On 'Meet the Press' the renowned historian gave context to the latest Trump scandal, 'I think it's almost a moment like using your word "decency," when Joe Welsh said to Joe McCarthy, "Have you no decency?"'

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'Meet the Press' transcript:


Our panel is here with us, Alex Castellanos, who is now advising Donald Trump's Super PAC, Hallie Jackson of NBC News, who covers much of the Republican side of this race, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and historian, Doris Kearns Goodwin and New York Times columnist, David Brooks. Well, where to begin? David Brooks, I just want to get your reaction. Let's start with the Khizr Khan.


You know, I've been on this program a lot, I've been frequently disturbed by what Donald Trump has said, but I've never felt as nauseated as I was as when I saw his comments about Mrs. Khan. Disgust doesn't begin to cover the range of emotions. I felt and I think a lot of people have felt that it stems from a lack of empathy, a lack of respect, a lack of basic decency. And I wonder what this morale pygmy on top of a ticket what's doing to the country and what will do as President. And I have to say, when I see Paul Manafort on the program issuing a regret, it didn't strike me as an emotion, it just struck me as a word.


Alex? I gotta get you to respond to this.


Well, sure, I'm not sure I'm even worthy of talking about the sacrifices families made for their country. God bless them. And they deserve our respect and sorrow and appreciation. I think there's an issue that is worth talking about here and that is when you look at Angela Merkel in Germany, she's about to get thrown out of office because of unfiltered immigration from the part of the world where identity and security has been compromised.

And I think Trump has a legitimate point to make there that he should do something about that and that's the argument in this election. The status quo, more of what's going on now, you know, basically letting that happen unfiltered or doing something about it. I think there are, perhaps, clearer ways to make that point.


But Alex, I listened to the words coming out of your mouth, especially in the beginning when you expressed sympathy for the family and I think there are a lot of people, including many Republicans who wonder, "Why didn't Donald Trump say that initially and immediately?"

One thing, you know, I talked to a Trump loyalist who said to me in the last 24 hours, "I think in two weeks, people aren't going to remember Khizr Khan's name." I think a lot of other people disagree with that because I've heard the name Judge Curiel brought up multiple times, that this is something that feels as impactful to Republicans as that moment did to Donald Trump two months ago.


I think it's moments like that that the Republicans and everyone's going to remember, but people also are going to remember a State Department under Hillary Clinton that ignored requests for security in Benghazi and debated what uniforms people should wear while people were left alone to suffer and eventually die, you know? So I think there are arguments here. I mean, to see Hillary Clinton portrayed as the candidate of moral clarity and honesty here, I noticed Mr. Khan didn't go that far as to embrace her.


You know what, Alex? I do think this is a moment that will be remembered. I think it's almost a moment like using your word "decency," when Joe Welsh said to Joe McCarthy, "Have you no decency?" Somehow, you have a powerful story told by a man and the candidate somehow is able to look at the wife and say, "Why didn't she say anything? Was she told not to say anything?" I had a son in combat almost the same time as this young soldier was killed. I don't know what I'd be able to do if he had been lost and I'm standing there behind his picture. How you can assume that that kind of temperamental quality is going to be able to understand other people's points of view-- I think he stood as a symbol of pride for Muslim-Americans.

I've always predicted "a bridge too far" when he said that John McCain wasn't a hero, I thought that was it. So maybe everything's topsy turvy this year, but I agree with David. Elections are topsy turvy, this is going to make a difference.

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