A slap in the face is White House order of the day

There’s nothing particularly surprising about President Donald Trump’s rejection of a White House statement praising the late Sen. John McCain on Saturday.

What’s surprising is people expected something different.

“It’s atrocious,” Mark Corallo, a former spokesperson for Trump’s legal team and a longtime Republican strategist tells the Washington Post. “At a time like this, you would expect more of an American president when you’re talking about the passing of a true American hero.”

The president hasn’t realized — and probably never will realize — that he represents the entirety of the United States. He and McCain were no friends; Trump once declared McCain wasn’t a hero because he taken captive when his jet was shot down over North Vietnam.

White House aides urged the president to put decency and propriety above whatever personal differences, but he wanted to tweet instead.

Then it was back to work on Sunday, blasting the media, boasting of his popularity, and urging prosecution of Hillary Clinton.

“For most of American history, politics stopped when you had the death of a national leader, and the fact that it hasn’t says an awful lot about the current state of our country and our politics, and in particular about Donald Trump,” Michael Beschloss, the presidential historian, tells the New York Times.

Other White House officials — the vice president, secretary of state, homeland security secretary, defense secretary, national security adviser, White House press secretary, counselor to the president, education secretary, interior secretary and others tried to make up for the boss by issuing their own statements lauding the senator. So did former presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush, whom the family asked to deliver eulogies at McCain’s funeral.

“It certainly doesn’t bother me or the people I know close to John,” Weaver told the Post. “I don’t think it bothers John one bit. If we heard something today or tomorrow from Trump, we know it’d mean less than a degree from Trump University.”

When the president returned from a golf outing on Sunday, the flags at the White House were lowered in honor of McCain.

NBC’s Pentagon correspondent tweeted it was restored to its full position this morning.

That, perhaps, is the ultimate sign of disrespect.

“From Washington all the way through to President Obama, presidents have had to play a unifying and even transcendent role in affirming a sense of national unity,” said another presidential historian, Jon Meacham. “It has been and it continues to be almost unthinkable that the 45th president could follow in that tradition, and this is yet another example of his inability to bring disparate forces together even on ceremonial occasions.”

  • Mike

    Trump’s disrespect for McCain is, like everything with the current occupant, based on petty personal resentments. That being said, the non-stop McCain hero worship we’ve been subjected to for 48 hours now is also absurd.

    If Trump were actually interested in uniting people, kneeling before McCain’s coffin would be a poor place to start.

    McCain was a warmonger extraordinaire, a relentless apologist for and promoter of U.S. invasions and occupations. (He was no friend to progressive causes at home either.) But as usual, the deaths of people abroad at our hands never count in American discourse. Racist domestic politics = bad. Racist/imperialist foreign policy = business as usual.

    Too bad McCain kicked the bucket when he did. Otherwise, he could have helped Trump launch a war against Iran. They could have both bonded over that. Is that the unity we seek?

    • I wonder how many people who’d been held as POW and tortured for five years would end up going back just a few years later?

      So maybe take it down just a notch, eh?

      • Mike

        I’m not saying McCain was the worst of American politicians. He isn’t (unfortunately). But the enforced hero worship at his death is over the top and beyond reasonable. Just look at the Star Trib front page yesterday. No journalistic skepticism there.

        We should not be heaping praise on people who have represented some of the worst aspects of our culture, and the mainstream media’s policing of discourse around McCain is how pernicious myths get started.

        Do you think when Noam Chomsky dies that there will be front-page coverage of all the intellectual work he did for peace?

        • The key is doing it respectfully.

          https://blogs.mprnews.org/newscut/2018/08/on-john-mccain/

          My father in law was a Republican. Ran for Congress once. And when he died, the comment in the local newspaper said, “Good. May he be the first of many Republicans to die.”

          The art of respectful dialogue is lost in America. One can be fair in assessing the life of anybody. But doing so without a modicum of respect is more a reflection on the writer than the deceased.

          But you’ve made your point and now you can move on.

          • Mike

            I noticed you paid no mind to my question about Chomsky, which illustrates the mythmaking going on here.

            Respectful is not the same thing as worshipful. The mainstream media discourse on McCain’s death goes way beyond basic respect.

          • Jim in RF

            I agree. Very difficult to forget Palin and the jeopardy he was willing to put the country in for the sake of an election.

          • Gordon near Two Harbors

            McCain regretted picking Palin as his running mate. He was talked out of picking his first choice–Joe Lieberman a Democrat and good friend.

          • OK thanks. That’s the third time you’ve stated the same thing now, Mike. Move along. Maybe go listen to the radio for the last half of Miller when they talk about McCain and Immigration. Then the 10am with Joshua Johnson. See what they say. Then feel free to come back and give a specific review and examples.

          • lindblomeagles

            In all due respect Mike, Bob has a point here. I’m African American. I could probably find at least 20 U.S. Presidents (and several hundred State and Federal Senators, Representatives, and Governors) who ignored the things my community and forefathers were going through at the time of their election through my adult years. But, am I really going to rip them to shreds on the day of their death? Am I really going to deny some of them respect because they got 1 or 2 things wrong, but several other things right? Their character is important, but so is ours. McCain was not alone in making mistakes. Sometimes our entire nation made the same mistakes as our leader. For the sake of OUR OWN SOULS and conscious, let’s give the dying some dignity, and challenge ourselves to live the life we expected our leaders to live.

    • jon

      I don’t disagree with the sentiment your expressing, but it was nice that we could put all that aside for 48 hours to show respect rather than insult and attack.
      I was nice that we could have a little humanity for a little while, without it being about differing policy positions…

      Not something that happens much any more in our divided country, and not something that I expect will happen much any more.

      • Mike

        McCain was a politician and public figure. Politicians don’t get sainted just because they’re dead. Why don’t we aim instead for a fair assessment?

        Jimmy Carter, for example, deserves praise for all he’s done as ex-president, and I’m sure his obituaries will reflect that. McCain’s record as a politician is the polar opposite of Carter’s.

        • jon

          So 48 hours about talking about the good things, and ignoring the bad, is too much to ask?

          I remind you we are in a country where a bunch of kids are shot up in a school, and the first thing we do isn’t to grieve it’s to blame people, point fingers for having to many guns, or not enough guns… with little regard for the loss of human life…

          We are in a country where a young woman’s body was found in iowa, and immediately it became a political football…

          McCain was a human, he was flawed like the rest of us, I for one would hope that upon my death the worse of my life choices aren’t what’s on display… I would hope that instead the best are what is on display… my legacy may be one of human fallibility but if the mix of my life is some good and some bad, focus on the good at least for a few days… you can go back to dancing on my grave once I’m in the ground. (I mean if the totality of my life is death and destruction, maybe just ignore my passing until I’m in the ground then go dance on my grave….)

          • I haven’t seen much ignoring. The Palin thing has been mentioned. So has the “Bomb Bomb Bomb, Bomb Bomb Iran.”

            But since no specifics were cited and only the usual “mainstream media did this or that”, it’s rather hard to judge.

          • Mike

            When a major daily newspaper like the Star Tribune has as its Sunday edition headline “American Hero,” above a photo of McCain and the American flag, that pretty much sums up the mainstream media attitude. That’s a specific example of the deification he’s been given.

            All of the terrible things he did (supporter of any war, leading member of the Savings and Loan fleecings of the 1980s, the incomparably vapid Sarah Palin) get minimized.

            This is “manufacturing consent” in the typical way that lionizes militarism and aggression.

          • lindblomeagles

            Or, just maybe, the Star Tribune treads heavier on the praise because McCain did serve the nation for such a long time, and died quickly, of a disease we can all relate to, cancer.

          • lindblomeagles

            Agree with this point too. And let me just add, McCain did far more good things than Judge Antonin Scalia did, yet, Scalia’s send off was far less divisive and positive than John McCain’s. That’s an odd choice for Americans of all parties to make. Perhaps, we should read McCain’s parting words to us Americans once more.

        • lindblomeagles

          While I don’t agree with your position regarding McCain, I WHOLEHEARTEDLY CONCUR with your position on Jimmy Carter. You should have read the story they had about him in the Washington Post last week. Carter, despite his flaws in the White House, is BY FAR AND AWAY, the best public figure America has produced. HE GETS IT. He kept to his roots. Put people first. Stayed with his family, and never got too big for himself or us. His obituary absolutely should reflect his spirit, and, I’m not afraid to say, I wish we had another Jimmy Carter.

      • lindblomeagles

        I’m with Jon on this one. No politico is 100% perfect. And yet, 60 years serving America as a soldier and as a representative for Arizona, are pretty good accomplishments. Towards the end of his life, McCain started working more closer across the aisle than he perhaps did during the 8 years Obama was President. Somewhere, he got an epiphany, and that epiphany is different than we’ve seen from the nation, let alone, from the Republican Party.

    • Sonny T

      “…the non-stop McCain hero worship… is absurd.” Well put.

      McCaine has been elevated to the anti-Trump. They were always going to use his death to horsewhip the president. You are correct in seeing the whole thing played for politics.

      Disrespect? There’s your disrespect.

      • Rob

        T.Rump generates his own horsewhippings. It’s one of the few things – aside from thoroughgoing incompetence – at which he excels.

      • kevins

        Ah, the mysterious and dark “they”. I’m anti-trump, and in my opinion, peresident Bone Spurs should be horse-whipped.

        • Sonny T

          “They” being those opposed to Trump.

          • RBHolb

            So most of the country, in other words.

          • Sonny T

            Except for 39%

          • I’m aware of no pollls showing support for showing John McCain a lack of respect accorded other high ranking leaders.

          • Sonny T

            I’m not following. What I’m saying is the anti-Trump forces are guilty of politicizing his death, an ugly thing.

          • RBHolb

            Is it “politicizing” his death to point out the utter lack of respect or decency exhibited by the President? So be it. It’s political. The President of the United States of America is a classless boor, by any measure.

            Why are you so focused on the criticism of the President without any reference to what he did? He himself did “an ugly thing.” Does that not bother you? Or are you grasping to the distinction that he didn’t do anything wrong (he didn’t do the right thing, wither, but he didn’t actively do something wrong)?

            The lengths Trump fans go through to justify overlooking his unfitness for the office he holds is mind boggling.

    • RBHolb

      It is possible to disagree on political issues yet still admire a person’s qualities as an individual. We can recognize achievements while noting disagreements.

      Maybe a lot of what you call “hero worship” stems from McCain having been the anti-Trump. Perhaps that is all that it takes these days for someone to be elevated to “hero” status. It could also be that McCain represents something that is disappearing from our polity, whether it’s called “civility” or a “call to public service.”

      I disagreed with John McCain on virtually every policy issue. Nevertheless, I could still respect his service, and also for what he was not.

  • jon

    Trump’s tweet seems like a canned “some one died” response…
    But his instagram identifies what trump really cares about… a picture is worth more than 240 characters in this case.

    https://instagram.com/p/Bm7HFb3gMOc/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=embed_loading_state_control

    • wjc

      It only seems like that because that is exactly what it is.

    • Jim in RF

      Nothing more sincere and thoughtful than Hearts and Prayers, especially in all caps.

    • Jack Ungerleider

      You’d think that at least he’d have used a picture of him AND McCain, maybe shaking hands. But a Google search of “trump mccain shaking hands” brings up many images of them shaking hands with other people but only one image included both men that wasn’t a composite. This one:
      https://img-s-msn-com.akamaized.net/tenant/amp/entityid/BBMtEto.img?h=459&w=799&m=6&q=60&o=f&l=f&x=2508&y=678

  • Barton

    While I had hoped for better from 45, it wasn’t surprising that he didn’t listen to others. The man has not listened to the advice from others his entire life: why would he start now.

    And while I hope that this may turn others away from him, I won’t be surprised when that doesn’t happen either.

  • AL287

    Can’t let the death of an elder statesman and a true patriot get in the way of petty politics. The show (literally) must go on. (sarcasm).

    The most frightening and loathsome aspect of all the shenanigans of the last 20 months is that an alarming number of Americans, at last count 39%, have no problem with Trump’s appalling behavior, my family included.

    Even Evangelicals don’t have a problem with his serial adultery and total disrespect for women, POC, the child/parent bond, etc. as long as he gives them what they want, Christianity and religion be damned.

    This is proof positive the man is “unhinged” to quote the number one best seller on the New York Times Best Seller List.

    Donald Trump wouldn’t have lasted a New York second in a Viet Cong POW camp let alone five years of torture. He’s a coward of the worst kind and a man without a soul.

    • >>Donald Trump wouldn’t have lasted a New York second in a Viet Cong POW camp let alone five years of torture.<<

      Bone spurs did him in…

    • kevins

      Amen.

  • gus

    The bravery and honesty of McCain highlights the contrast between someone who believed in America’s ideals and someone, the current president, who doesn’t know what those values are.

  • Barton

    I didn’t actually realize there were established requirements for when to fly the flag at half-staff/mast. But it appears Pres Eisenhower established them. Here is the requirement, according to “he provisions of Proclamation 3044 of Mar. 1, 1954, appear at 19 FR 1235, 3 CFR, 1954-1958 Comp., p. 4, unless otherwise noted” for Senator McCain:

    2. The flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff on all buildings, grounds, and naval vessels of the Federal Government in the metropolitan area of the District of Columbia on the day of death and on the following day upon the death of a United States Senator, Representative, Territorial Delegate, or the Resident Commissioner from the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and it shall also be flown at half-staff on all buildings, grounds, and naval vessels of the Federal Government in the State, Congressional District, Territory, or Commonwealth of such Senator, Representative, Delegate, or Commissioner, respectively, from the day of death until interment.

    https://www.archives.gov/federal-register/codification/proclamations/03044.html

  • Rob

    With T.Rump, the question is never “Is T.Rump gonna be a jerk on this issue?” Because we know the answer will ALWAYS be “Yes.”
    The question is rather, “How big a jerk is T.Rump gonna be this time around?”
    And he reaches new heights of tooldom every damn time.

    • jon

      To be fair, when I saw the headlines about trump’s dumb tweet about McCain I assumed that the word “loser” would be featured prominently (and be misspelled)
      So he did clear the low bar of expectations that he has set for himself… it’s just that the media keeps trying to hold him up to the standards of the office of the presidency…
      He’ll probably never clear that bar (and even that bar has been set pretty low by people using the nickname “turd blossom” while in office, or the travesty that was obama putting his feet up/wearing a tan suit.)

      • lindblomeagles

        I don’t disagree with your point, but I am going to give you something to think about. When Obama failed to live up to the media’s standards of the Oval Office, who was the first to complain? DONALD TRUMP. The most visceral and early sign of Trump’s displeasure with long standing tradition was Barack Obama’s name, which Trump, himself, pointed to a gross absence of true American citizenship. Again, not trying to argue with your point, but it would seem Trump picks and chooses who to vilify when it comes to living up to standards and excuses himself to similar standards he has complained about (See Hillary Clinton’s emails versus the meetings Trump clearly had with Russians).

  • Sonny T

    This is the typical (and tiresome) mainstream press approach. Trump does nothing wrong, and he’s assailed.

    • Rob

      Heh. You must not be familiar with Bizarro World in the Superman comics.

    • And yet, the best and the brightest from both parties unanimously disagree with you.

      • Sonny T

        Well Walmart and Target… ahem, I mean the Republicans and Democrats have their ideas. I have mine.

        Also I was not taking a swing at your post. It is accurate reporting

        • I’d say that it’s accurate to report on behavior that is obviously out of step with the expectations of most people. It is not accurate to say that “Trump has done nothing wrong” in what the rest of us call “the real world”.

          • lindblomeagles

            Nice!

    • Jay T. Berken

      I guess my biggest problem with Trump is that he unabashedly does not care.

      • lindblomeagles

        If, and that’s a big if, our job as Christians is to forgive and let God do his work, Trump is in trouble, because he does not forgive, he does not care, and at some point, that catches up to you.

  • Jeff

    Didn’t even send a “warmest best wishes”?

  • Chris Moseley

    Bob,
    There’s an interesting thread on Twitter by Shane Goldmacher, who’s the chief Metro political correspondent for the NY Times. He recalled an episode in 1996 when McCain fought a federal loan guarantee that Trump wanted very badly. Trump was developing some luxury properties in downtown Manhattan but the program he was applying to was intended to boost low income housing. If Trump had gotten the loan guarantee he would have qualified for a lot of municipal tax breaks. McCain fought it on the floor of the Senate. Trump’s denigration of McCain seems to date roughly from that time — in an interview with Dan Rather in 1999, he said, “He was captured…does being captured make you a war hero? I’m not sure, I don’t know.”

    • lindblomeagles

      Great Info.

  • KTFoley

    Comments are closed on the post for John McCain’s farewell words, so I’ll just say here that the contrast says all.

  • lindblomeagles

    Bob and I haven’t agreed on much these days, but Bob’s right on this one. Why did anyone expect Donald Trump (In my opinion ONLY, not Bob’s, the man who invented the words hypocrisy, childish, and Neanderthal) to be anything different than Donald Trump. Sure he said, “Put America First.” But that slogan was a marketing slogan, not the way Trump really feels. The surprise would be an action DIFFERENT than the Trump we’ve known since the 80s. That’s a lot of change you would be asking for if you expected him to give a mea culpa to John McCain.