Wednesday, March 20, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He escalated his recent feud with a man who has been dead for seven months.

Trump has, for reasons he has not explained, been very angry at the late Sen. John McCain lately, seven months after McCain died of brain cancer. Today, Trump went to Lima, Ohio, and gave a speech at a factory that manufactures tanks for the Army. In the middle of his speech, which was supposed to be about manufacturing, Trump interrupted himself to rant for more than five minutes about McCain.

A lot of people are asking, because they love me and they ask me about a man named John McCain. And if you want, I'd tell you about—should I or not? Yes? Yes? So I have to be honest, I've never liked him much. Hasn't been for me. I've— really probably never will. But there are certain reasons for it, and I'll tell you, and I do this to save a little time with the press later on. John McCain received the, uh, the fake and phony dossier, did you hear about the dossier? It was paid for by crooked Hillary Clinton, right? And John McCain got it, he got it, and what did he do? He didn't call me. He turned it over to the FBI hoping to put me in jeopardy. And that's not the nicest thing to do. You know when those people say, cause I'm a very loyal person. John McCain campaigned for years to replace Obamacare, for years, in Arizona, great state, I love the people of Arizona, but he campaigned for years for "repeal and replace," so did [Sen.] Rob [Portman], so did a lot of senators. When he finally had the chance to do it he voted against repeal and replace. He voted against, at two o'clock in the morning, remember "thumbs down?" We said what the hell happened. He said two hours before he was voting to repeal and replace then he went "thumbs down." Badly hurting the Republican party, badly hurting our nation, and hurting many sick people who desperately wanted good affordable health care, we would have had it. This would have saved our country over a trillion dollars in entitlements, and we would have ended up making a great health care plan frankly with the Democrats because they woulda had no choice. McCain didn't get the job done for our great vets and the VA and they knew it. That's why when I had my dispute with him I had such incredible support from the met—the vets and the military. The vets were on my side because I got the job done. I got choice, and I got accountability, accountability meaning somebody mistreats our vets for forty-five years there were trying--they mistreat our vets and we say, "hey, you're fired, get out, can't mistreat our vets." They never got it done. And choice, for years and years, decades they wanted to get choice, you know what choice is? You're a military veteran, you're one of our great people, to me, one of the great people. For may decades they couldn't get it done, it was never done, I got it, five months ago. I got it done. Choice! Instead of waiting in line, a vet, fought for us, fought in these tanks, fought for us. Instead of waiting in line for two days, two weeks, two months, people waiting on line, they're not very sick by the time they see a doctor they're terminally ill. We gave 'em choice. If you have to wait, for any extended period of time, you go outside, you go to a local doctor, we paid the bill, you get yourself better, go home to your family, and we got it passed, we got it done. And the other thing is we're in a war, in the middle east, that McCain pushed so hard. He was calling Bush, President Bush all the time, "get in to the middle east, get into the middle east." So now we're into that war for 7 trillion dollars, thousands and thousands of our people have been killed, millions of people overall, and frankly, we're straightening it out now, but it's been a disaster for our count--we've spent tremendous wealth, tremendous wealth and tremendous lives, in that war, and what do we have, it's worse than it was 19 years ago. I call it the endless wars. 19 years ago when we started. So John McCain loved it. I endorsed him at his request, and I gave him the kind of funeral that he wanted, which as president I had to approve. I don't care about this, I didn't get "thank you," that's okay. We sent him on the way, but I wasn't a fan of John McCain, so now what we can say is now, we're all set, I don't think I have to answer that question, but the press keeps—"what do you think of McCain, what do you think." Not my kind of guy, but some people like him, and I think that's great.

Some of this is a lie. John McCain's funeral did not require Trump's approval, nor did Trump have anything to do with McCain being given (by Congress) the honor of lying in state in the Capitol rotunda. McCain did not give the FBI the intelligence dossier that first linked Trump to the Putin regime's attempts to get him elected until after the election. (Trump hasn't explained why he thinks McCain should have covered up information related to crimes and espionage against the United States.)

Trump's mention of the "choice" for veterans where McCain "didn't get the job done" is a reference to a veteran's health care bill that was first introduced in 2014—by John McCain. It passed by wide majorities in both houses. The bill is actually named after McCain and two other veterans, an unusual honor for a sitting legislator. Trump's only known contribution was to sign it.

Trump's claims that veterans preferred him is absurd, although Trump may actually believe it anyway. McCain, who spent more than five years as a P.O.W. in Vietnam, was beyond question more popular with other servicemembers than Trump, who avoided the draft and joked about STDs being his version of Vietnam. After McCain's death, veterans' groups were enraged when Trump initially refused the normal courtesy of ordering the flag lowered to half staff. (As of last October, Trump's approval rating among active-duty troops was 44%, barely higher than his overall approval rating.)

Some of it is hypocritical. McCain supported the U.S. invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan after the September 11th attacks, but so did virtually every elected Republican—and so did Donald Trump. Likewise, McCain was one of several Republican votes against Trump's last-ditch effort to abolish the ACA, but it was the "skinny repeal" version that had, in effect, no "replace." (Trump's plan by that point was to sabotage the ACA, and then use that as leverage to force Congress to adopt something else.)

Some of what Trump said, however, was true. McCain has not thanked Trump for his funeral.

UPDATE, March 21: Trump later characterized his unscripted, mid-speech, five minute rant this way: "I don’t talk about about [John McCain.] People ask me the question, I didn’t bring this up."

Why is this a problem?

  • It's wrong to lie about the dead.
  • Presidents are responsible for the success or failure of their policies.
  • This is not how a mentally stable person acts.