- The Washington National Cathedral memorial service for John McCain was more than a hero’s send off. It was a metaphor for who we still are and where we now are. There was a bipartisan presence and requisite aura of respect and gratitude. The aisle, in this case, didn’t separate political party affiliations. But there was a palpable, GOP elephant in the rhetorical room–ironically notable for its absence: the president of the United States. He was not there because he was specifically uninvited by Sen. McCain.
The reasons have been well chronicled. President Donald Trump, unconscionably, included McCain among his myriad targets for ridicule and insult. It was all too appropriate that Trump took his hypocritical “thoughts and prayers” to a Virginia golf course. And while speakers, such as Meghan McCain and former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, pulled some rhetorical punches and didn’t mention Trump by name, they made sure their praise of the late senator was juxtaposed to that of the unprincipled, classless current occupant of the White House.
The choice of Obama was totally appropriate. It was, even for Republican birthers and Obama obstructionists, a graphic reminder that not long ago we had an eloquent, honorable man in the White House. Flawed, but not an unethical, immoral, existential threat. It could happen again.
“So much of our politics, our public life, our public discourse can seem small and mean and petty,” noted Obama. “Trafficking in bombast and insult and phony controversies and manufactured outrage. It’s a politics that pretends to be brave and tough, but in fact is born in fear.” It looked like Lindsey Graham, a McCain best friend who’s increasingly prominent among Trump toadies, was among those party-first GOPsters nodding in embarrassed assent.
We can only guess as to how many rewrites Meghan McCain did. Her presentation was personal as well as patriotic. It was, of course, her father who was on the receiving end of those sophomorically demeaning, disrespectful insults from Trump. “The America of John McCain has no need to be made great again because America was always great,” she said with barely a hint of nuance. “We gather here to mourn the passing of American greatness,” she underscored. “The real thing, not cheap rhetoric from men who will never come near the sacrifice he gave so willingly.” Indeed, John McCain’s “America First” had nothing to do with international arrogance or race-baiting, white nationalism.
One more thing–and a reminder that sometimes we add by subtracting. No Sarah Palin.
- “You’re one election away from losing everything you’ve got,” said Trump in recently warning a gathering of, yes, evangelicals about what could happen if the arch-enemy Democrats do well in the mid-terms. “The level of hatred, the level of anger is unbelievable. They will overturn everything that we’ve done and they’ll do it quickly and violently.” Well, there’s Trumpian bombast and red-meat, base rhetoric. It’s a daily loop in Trump world. Then there’s this–an incendiary, de facto call to meet concocted violence with violence.
- Upon further–and much earlier–reflection, does anyone in the Trump Administration, except the Oval Office Apprentice, really think it was a good idea to have that Trump-Kim summit without much preparation? How’s that (ambiguously-defined) “denuclearization” process going?
- Imagine Trump now supporting the Senate re-election campaign of Ted Cruz. As in “Lyin’ Ted.” As in “unattractive” wife. As in “all talk, no action pol.” As in son of someone who may have been involved in the JFK assassination conspiracy. No outrage is too outrageous. Cruz and Trump may actually deserve each other, but this country deserves so much better. You go, “Beto” O’Rourke.
- So, Sen. Lindsey Graham interceded and helped Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner put in an official appearance at John McCain’s Washington memorial service. It arched more than a few non-Trumpian brows.
We know the Trump-Kushner motivation and who they were representing. IT and JK are not unhinged, ideological haters. So, OK, why not put in a symbolically respectful appearance–while the president was golfing–and squeeze in near Chief of Staff John Kelly and National Security Director John Bolton?
But you can bet there’s another agenda, because there’s lot left of their post-Trump Administration careers and reputations. And it’s more than likely that being part of a historically disgraced family and administration–wealth and opulent lifestyle notwithstanding–will not advance their standing and agendas, which could include their own political ambitions. However this Oval Orifice mess ends, including before 2020, Ivanka and Jared want more than life-long societal pushback for being calculated opportunists who helped enable what could be seen as the most reviled presidency in U.S. history.
- Word has it that Jessica Manafort, 36, the indie film-making daughter of convicted felon Paul Manafort will be changing her name. Reportedly, she will become Jessica Huckabee Sanders. No, not really. But we understand; being associated with a nationally disgraced person is unfair familial baggage for any individual, let alone one with a public-context career. No word on whether Ivanka Kushner or Melania Knavs have had similar epiphanies.
- Here’s what no president, especially a faux-populist one, wants to hear on Labor Day from the president of the AFL-CIO. “Unfortunately, to date, the things that (Trump) has done to hurt workers outpace what he’s done to help workers.” That was AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka, not exactly a spokesman for establishment elites.
- “Coal miners for Trump.” We get that. “Bikers for Trump.” We get that. “Nazi Robo-callers for Trump.” Hell, we get that too. But “Evangelicals for Trump”? We will never get that. In fact, shouldn’t that be a sin?
- The Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh is the first formal test of whether the rhetoric of respect and bipartisan participation at John McCain’s Washington memorial service has made any difference. It hasn’t.