Nothing has more graphically revealed the startling separation of the Republican Party from mainstream America than the Trump-created imbroglio over honoring John McCain. McCain’s death unleashed a universal chorus of praise and more praise for McCain’s life, his principles, his courage, his status as just about the best role model for a politician we have seen in the current era.
What was Donald Trump’s reaction? He refused to release an official White House statement drafted by his own staff praising McCain’s service to his country. Instead, he issues a tweet expressing condolences to McCain’s family—a petty but in-your-face insult by any standard. He then proceeded to double-down on his campaign of petty vindictiveness by:
- Raising the flag over the White House back to full staff while the rest of the country continued to observe the mourning period
- Ignoring for three times on Monday shouted questions to him about McCain from reporters, invited into the WH for official events
This pettiness by a President of the United States continued throughout the day—even as Americans’ TV screens were filled with near non-stop coverage of McCain, the public accolades continued, and even some Republicans rose in the United States Congress to praise McCain.
A turning point apparently came when the American Legion issued a sternly worded statement calling on Trump to treat McCain with more reverence. According to media reports, Trump’s closest advisers’ also urged him to be more praiseworthy of McCain.
Late in the afternoon, Trump grudgingly relented enough to state at a dinner for visiting evangelicals: “Despite our differences on policy and politics, I respect Senator John McCain’s service to our country and, in his honor, have signed a proclamation to fly the flag of the United States at half-staff until the day of his interment.”
This anodyne utterance, of course, does not erase the fact that it took a firestorm of public opinion, including a strong rebuke from one of America’s premier veterans’ groups, to get the President of the United States to surrender his petty vendetta and issue some version of what should have been a standard statement on the death of a revered public figure.
Trump’s late and grudging act only served to reinforce what a debased moral character Trump possesses and the extent to which he has besmirched and degraded the Office of President. The Washington Post sums it up well:
“Shunned at two funerals (McCain and Barbara Bush) and one (royal) wedding so far, President Trump may be well on his way to becoming president non grata…Less than two years into first term, Trump has often come to occupy the role of pariah — both unwelcome and unwilling to perform the basic rituals and ceremonies of the presidency, from public displays of mourning to cultural ceremonies.”
The McClain imbroglio also highlights how the Republican Party, like Trump, is becoming increasingly isolated from mainstream America. The few Republicans who rose to praise McCain only highlight the fact that the overwhelming number remained mute or critical. We ordinary Americans can only marvel (and recoil) at a political party whose members despise a man whom the rest of the country admires as one of the finest Americans ever. Republicans, like Trump, are blind to the gap.
In a few days, the McCain incident will die down, and Trump’s disgraceful and despicable actions regarding the Senator will not amount to a pitcher of warm spit in shaping Republican opinion of Trump.
About 90 percent of Republicans will continue to support this immoral, lying, adulterous, narcissistic, sexist, racist, slanderous, xenophobic, bullying thug as President of the United States. (See “The Full-spectrum Corruption of Donald Trump” )
The rest of us can only look to the November elections and do our best to oust the corrupt and incompetent Trumpists.