- - Tuesday, August 2, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Fresh from his brash and futile intervention in the British vote to leave the European Union, President Obama has set out this time to reform the Republican Party, replace Donald Trump as the party’s nominee, and tutor Republicans in how, if they really try, they can be more like him.

Mr. Obama is unhinged by Donald Trump’s remarkable feud with Khizr Khan, a Muslim immigration lawyer and the father of an American soldier who died a hero in Iraq. The president scolded Mr. Trump for what he called “an attack on a Gold Star family” and said the Republican nominee was “woefully unprepared” to follow him as president.

The president told a press conference Tuesday, which he shared with the visiting prime minister of Singapore, that the Republicans should “unendorse” their nominee — he didn’t say how — and presumably find a replacement. Presumably, because the party could, we suppose, cede the election to Hillary Clinton now, to the wild applause of the media that set up the Khan-Trump contretemps.

The president’s contempt for Republicans is well known, and he is entitled to his opinion of Donald Trump, but his clumsy intervention in the campaign just now getting under way is without modern precedent. Mr. Obama’s remarks were remarkable as well for their anger and bile, little short of a stump speech typical of the closing days of a close campaign.

Mr. Obama said Mr. Trump’s exchange with Khizr Khan was not an “episodic gaffe,” and in fact it was not a gaffe at all, but the result of a carefully contrived set-up orchestrated by the Clinton campaign, which accorded Mr. Khan prime time to attack Mr. Trump for his proposal to bar unvetted Muslim immigrants from entering the United States.

Responding to questions later on ABC-TV, Mr. Trump offered condolences to the Khan family, and wondered why Mrs. Khan, a Gold Star mother, had not said anything at the convention because she stood at her husband’s side as he spoke. The Donald speculated that it could have been because of the well-known Muslim tradition of women being required to keep their silence. The Donald then became the media villain who hates dead heroes and the Khans were portrayed as innocent victims of a media maelstrom.

Victims of a maelstrom, perhaps. Innocent, not necessarily. Mr. Khan’s law firm specializes in obtaining controversial EB5 visas, assisting wealthy foreigners, mostly from the Middle East, in obtaining the visas. Mr. Khan was formerly a lawyer in a Washington law firm with close connections to Hillary Clinton. The pieces begin to fall in place.

The controversial EB5 visa program has been marked by corruption for years, and Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has sharply criticized the EB5 program. “The Government Accountability Office, the media, industry experts, members of Congress and federal agency officials have concurred that the program is a serious problem with serious vulnerabilities,” the senator said earlier this year.

President Obama, Hillary Clinton and the legacy media, so called, have portrayed this episode as Donald Trump’s attack on a patriotic Muslim family. In fact, he has been careful to pay tribute to the sacrifice of the Khans and in particular to the ultimate sacrifice of their son. His father, who picked this fight, is not the hero.

Donald Trump is an easy target, made that way by his own bluster and eagerness to answer all affronts, real or imagined. But even Donald Trump is entitled to reply to someone who says “he has a black soul.” The Republican leaders, eager as always to run when the media cries “boo!” may ultimately wish they had sat this one out.

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