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Our newspaper, the Ottumwa Courier, has seen innumerable elections. We’ve seen candidates come and go. Some have been brilliant leaders, others less so. But never have we seen a candidate for high office so fundamentally unfit to hold it as Donald J. Trump.

This conclusion has nothing to do with party affiliation. It rests not on policy proposals, something Trump has utterly failed to offer. Instead it is based on the statements of the man himself.

We’re used to candidates with only a nodding acquaintance with the truth. Trump lacks even that. His insistence that something is true merely because he says so is reminiscent of Nixon’s insistence that actions taken by the president are legal because it is the president who acts. Both are dangerous fallacies.

Trump’s tendency to belittle and berate in shockingly personal terms is nearly unprecedented. Candidates have historically shrugged off the vast majority of the slings and arrows of a campaign. He attacks, shifting the argument to whether his temperament is appropriate to the presidency as opposed to whether the initial criticism against him was warranted.

Trump’s disgraceful treatment of veterans and veterans’ families is a realm of misconduct unto itself. That concerns us deeply. Iowa’s contribution to American military deployments since 2001 is, on a per capita basis, on par with any state. We have suffered losses accordingly.

When Sen. John McCain hesitated to endorse him, Trump derided McCain and said he liked “people who weren’t captured.” Whatever one thinks of McCain’s politics, his conduct as a prisoner of war was heroic. How many people would have the courage, moral strength and physical endurance to reject an offer of release from a POW camp in order to deny the enemy a public relations coup?

Trump’s musings that he would have to consider a country’s contributions to the United States before acting on behalf of NATO allies is a stunning betrayal. Article 5 of the alliance’s treaty is a cornerstone of American foreign policy. It calls on members to react to an attack on one as an attack on all. And it is worth noting that it has only been invoked once: when our allies stood with us after the September 11 attacks in 2001.

During the Iowa caucus campaign, Trump skipped a debate and said he would hold a fundraiser for veterans instead. He claimed to have raised millions. But his campaign only began to make the promised donations after media began inquiring about it.

Trump endorsed torture of those captured on the battlefield. Whether members of terrorist groups constitute soldiers under the Geneva Convention is a question of no small complexity. But torture would provide those groups with a rallying cry, making the battlefield more dangerous for American soldiers and costing additional American lives.

The latest chapter of Trump’s ongoing misconduct is his war of words with the family of Humayun Kahn, an American soldier who was killed in service to his country. Khizr Kahn, Humayun’s father, spoke at the Democratic Party’s national convention.

Trump’s response was to attack the family, question whether Kahn’s wife was allowed to speak for herself, and claim undisclosed “sacrifices” in his own life compared to the family’s loss of a son. And he hasn’t stopped since. Even fellow Republicans have disassociated themselves from Trump’s tirade.

We are encouraged by the fact some Republicans are taking that step. Our indictment of Trump is not a blanket condemnation of their party. This is an indictment of a single person: Donald J. Trump.

We cannot see how a reasonable, rational analysis of Trump concludes that he is fit to be anywhere near the White House, let alone in the Oval Office in possession of nuclear launch codes.

We encourage our readers to take a good look at the man, his actions and his growing list of unforced errors. We believe you will reach the same conclusion.

— Ottumwa Courier

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