Why The President Sulks While America Pays Its Respects To John McCain

Let’s be very clear why Donald Trump will not be attending the memorial service for John MccCain at the Washington National Cathredral on Saturday.  He probably will be playing golf and that, of course, has much to do with the refusal of the man Barrack Obama called “the lion of the Senate” to kiss his ring.  But the biggest reason writ plain and simple is that Trump has failed to accept the responsibilities of the presidency and has become further and further untethered from those constitutionally-mandated obligations with every new outrage. 

On the eve of a memorial service where Obama and George W. Bush will speak and at least two other living former presidents will be welcomed and embraced for their public service, Trump’s disapproval rating hit an astonishing 60 percent in one national poll and calls for his impeachment hit 50 percent in another (57 percent among women; I wonder why?) 

Those numbers will continue to climb as Trump vomits lies not just on a daily but a nearly hourly basis in a desperate effort to create an alternate reality of which Herman Goebbels would be proud in a shambolic and increasingly frantic effort to hold onto a base for whom he still can do no wrong as no fewer than six separate legal investigations close in on he, his family and associates, felons all. 

On Thursday, former Vice President Joe Biden, while clumsily forgetting to mention McCain’s 106-year-old mother in the lead-up to his eulogy at a memorial service in Phoenix, otherwise hit just the right note. 

“My name’s Joe Biden,” he said.  “I’m a Democrat.  And I love John McCain.” 

Biden, drawing on his own loss of his wife and children to sympathize with the McCain family, started out gently, but his voice soon rose to a shout as he praised McCain’s personal code.  “You could come to a different conclusion.   But where he’d part company with you is if you lacked the basic values of decency, respect, knowing that this project is bigger than yourself.”  

Trump had infamously said of McCain in life that “I like people who weren’t captured,” while his Machiavellian meanness in the wake of McCain’s death was breathtaking. 

White House aides had written a statement that honored McCain’s service as a five-year prisoner of war in North Vietnam and his long career on Capitol Hill.  The statement called McCain a “hero,” but Trump rejected it outright and instead punched out a sanctimonious 21-word tweet with his tiny thumbs.   

The White House flag flew at half mast on Sunday, the day after McCain’s death, as protocol requires, but was back at full mast on Monday morning as flags on other federal buildings and throughout America remained lowered.   

The flag was again lowered after the predictable shitstorm of criticism, but not before former CIA director General Michael Hayden, whose security clearance Trump wants to yank because of his criticism of a man who claimed bone spurs prevented him from serving during the long years McCain moldered broken limbed in the Hanoi Hilton, tweeted “Remember this image the next time this president talks about disrespecting veterans.” 

This veteran certainly will. 

Editor’s Note: This essay originally appeared on August 31, 2018 on Kiko’s House, a website featuring commentary by journalist and author, Shaun Mullen.  It was reproduced here with the consent of Mr. Mullen.

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