Despite his generally way-too-late protestations and backtracking, GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump has, does, and will continue to prove himself little more than a self-aggrandizing, self-promoting, and decency-deficient schoolyard bully.

His fawning followers, however, continue to excuse his bombast and infantile behavior with the "anyone but Hillary" theory of politics.

How sad.

So ... the guy who lashes out at anyone who criticizes him is the best and most balanced guy for the job? Trump's immediate response policy demonstrates some form of strength?

Jasmine Lee and Kevin Quealy of the New York Times have been working full-time just trying to keep up with Trump's growing list of insulting comments. Not too long ago they came up with an article entitled "The 250 People, Places and Things Donald Trump Has Insulted on Twitter: A Complete List."

Still, Trump really outdid himself this past week.

Following comments by the parents of a Muslim U.S. Army captain who died in the service of this county - in combat - Trump had to react. He just had to.

Now, it's true Khizr Khan was criticizing Trump. Khan said Trump's diminishing of the entire Muslim world was short-sighted and out of place for a presidential candidate. He held up his own son, Captain Humayun Khan, an American Army officer of Pakistani descent, as an example of members of the Islamic faith who are loyal to these United States.

In very public comments Khan told Trump he had sacrificed nothing and no one for his country. He slammed Trump for lumping all Muslims into one category without looking at each and every one as an individual.

Instead of strategically shutting his gob, Trump decided to strike back.

Rather than be even a little bit "presidential" Trump decided to get in a few punches.

In an interview with ABC he questioned not the father's cry for decency from the nation's presidential candidates, but rather whether the fallen soldier's mother was even allowed to speak since she was a Muslim.

"If you look at his wife, she was standing there," he said, "She had nothing to say ... Maybe she wasn't allowed to have anything to say. You tell me."

Khan's mother later said she was unable to talk during her husband's presentation on stage because even seeing a photo of her son still overwhelms her with grief.

This, remember, is the parent — the mother — of an American soldier who lost his life in combat operations as the result of a car bomb explosion.

Her son, her American son, serving this nation, died on June 8, 2004, in Baquabah, Iraq.

He was killed after he ordered the rest of his patrol away from a suspicious vehicle and continued to edge forward himself fully knowing how dangerous the situation was. The vehicle exploded, killing him. His sacrifice saved his men's lives. Capt. Khan was awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star for his heroism in Iraq — after his death. He was buried in Arlington Cemetery.

And Trump decided to take a shot at the mother.

What a man. What a man.

I won't repeat what the Democrats had to say about Trump's comments. I'll quote a few Republicans, though.

"There's only one way to talk about Gold Star parents: with honor and respect," wrote Ohio Governor John Kasich.

Other Republicans scrambled to disassociate themselves from Trump's comments ( but not too many.)

"It is time for Donald Trump to set the example for our country and the future of the Republican Party," said Arizona Senator John McCain — himself a target for Trump's disdain. "While our party has bestowed upon him the nomination, it is not accompanied by unfettered license to defame those who are the best among us.

"I cannot emphasize enough how deeply I disagree with Mr. Trump’s statement. I hope Americans understand that the remarks do not represent the views of our Republican Party, its officers or candidates."

And yet ... the leadership continues to endorse Donald Trump.

Even the Veterans of Foreign Wars command team could not remain silent.

"Election year or not, the VFW will not tolerate anyone berating a Gold Star family member for exercising his or her right of speech or expression," said Brian Duffy, the national commander of the near 1.7 million-member Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States and its Auxiliary."There are certain sacrosanct subjects that no amount of wordsmithing can repair once crossed."

Then Trump, in his own defense, decided to double down — NOT apologize for demeaning a bereaved mother, but take on the dad's comments as well.

Kazir Khan noted in his comments Trump had "sacrificed nothing" for his country, while disparaging those who have.

Trump responded, "I think I've made a lot of sacrifices. I work very, very hard. I've created thousands and thousands of jobs, tens of thousands of jobs, built great structures. I've had tremendous success. I think I've done a lot."

Really?! Really??!!?? REALLY??!!??

Trump can bald-facedly equate working a few long hours or financing the construction of a skyscraper with losing a child in the service of this country?

This is the guy you want to be Commander in Chief?

Fine.