The death and subsequent funeral of John McCain has become an important moment in American history. A great statesman, lawmaker and defender of our country has departed, and most Americans are sad. But McCain’s death has become an unexpected political moment encouraged by a dying man’s intentions before his imminent death.
America is a highly charged political and vindictive place, in great part due to the personal style of President Trump. Ironically his successes as our leader have been unappreciated because of his self-aggrandizing and unstatesman-like demeanor. There are many Americans who are in favor of his agenda, but are disgusted by his combative and in your face attitude.
Every day more important Americans are jumping on the bandwagon and criticizing Trump. Many respond to Trump by playing his game of bare-knuckles politics. From his grave, John McCain continued his tit for tat relationship with the president. He in effect blackballed Trump from his funeral and encouraged his admirers to attack Trump at his funeral. This act, in my opinion, detracted from the greatness of McCain.
McCain has been caught up in presidential politics for years. As discussed by presidents Bush and Obama, the former senator was not shy about telling a sitting president, a world leader or a business tycoon that he disagreed with their decisions. McCain was the resident expert on any number of important issues relating to foreign affairs, torture, abuse of downtrodden people and democracy.
Of note, he berated George W. Bush about the use of certain tactics by CIA officers to obtain intelligence after 9/11, and sparred with Obama on many of his progressive initiatives.
Nevertheless, before his death, McCain did two interesting things. One was to bring Bush and Obama together at his funeral to encourage bipartisanship and to speak against the terrible and unproductive impact of hardball politics that has hurt our country.
The second thing was to disinvite Trump and encourage his eulogizers to assail the president. It’s not the first time that two combatants have carried their feud into the afterlife. But in McCain’s case, it seemed odd. Rather than trying to lure Trump into a conciliatory moment, be squeezed a political pimple and agitated an already bad situation.
When a great person dies, the living should laud his or her achievements. This certainly happened over the weekend, but it was stained by a dying man’s intention to antagonize an already explosive situation. In effect, McCain opted for confrontation rather than conciliation.
Perhaps he would have been better served by asking his eulogizers to encourage less partisanship. After all, Trump has over two years to serve. Maybe the country needed McCain to do his political magic one more time. Maybe Trump would have been moved by a voice from the grave calling for cooperation in Washington.
Instead McCain implicitly used his attack dogs, his daughter and two presidents, who took the bait and added to the partisanship in Washington.
I have been critical of Trump over the last two years and wish his tenure were nearing an end. But it’s not. With a great amount of time remaining, Trump can make things worse by responding with a wounded ego.
It may have been doubtful that Trump would have been moved by a plea from McCain to change his ways, but you never know. What we do know is that the president is likely to forge ahead and continue to turn the world on its ear.