Saturday, August 25, 2018

What did Donald Trump do today?

He let John McCain die before saying something respectful about him.

Shortly after news broke that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) had died at the age of 81, there was a generic message of condolence to McCain's family posted to Trump's twitter account, although probably not by Trump.

The 114-character post did not say anything about McCain himself. UPDATE, 8/26: Trump's tweet came after he personally vetoed his aides' plan to issue a more traditional formal statement that actually praised McCain.

Until today, most other Trump tweets referencing McCain had been to mock him, mostly out of anger over McCain's refusal to vote for Trump's healthcare repeal legislation. In Trump's telling, Democrats were laughing at McCain behind his back for that vote, and that McCain had been "sold a bill of goods" and had "let his [friends] down," or "let Arizona down." (Trump's miscalculation that he could force McCain to vote a certain way on the deeply unpopular ACA repeal bill is evident in the few positive tweets just before the vote: he praised the "brave - American hero!" for returning from the hospital to vote when he thought McCain would vote his way.) 

On other issues, Trump's twitter feed has McCain as "sadly weak" on immigration, and "very foul-mouthed" for his refusal to stand by Trump after the release of the Access Hollywood video in which Trump bragged about grabbing women "by the pussy." Trump also said McCain was a "RINO Senator who voters can't stand." (McCain was, in reality, incredibly popular with Arizona voters. He never lost an election, and never won by less than 13%.)

Trump also castigated McCain for meeting with Syrian rebels, apparently having forgotten which side of the civil war in Syria that the United States is on. (It wasn't the last time Trump got confused about that.)

Perhaps the cruelest (and most telling) attacks Trump made on McCain had to do with the senator's support for veterans. The former prisoner of war's legislative support for veterans and servicemembers was so well known that his colleagues named the latest defense authorization bill after him--a fact Trump pointedly refused to mention during a half-hour long speech about it. But on Twitter, Trump said that McCain used veterans "as talking points and photo ops," that he stole from "disabled vets" to give "illegal Aliens benefits," and that he "hasn't done anything for the Vets." 

Trump, who claimed to have bone spurs that exempted him from the Vietnam draft, famously complained that people called McCain a hero for surviving five years of torture as a POW: "I like people who weren't captured." He then bragged on Twitter that he thought it was helping him in the polls.

Who cares?

  • Pretending to respect a political enemy only when he is safely dead is its own kind of insult to those who are in mourning.