Trump ignores lessons from John McCain's life

President Donald Trump is in no mood to take lectures from John McCain and the weeklong national civics less...

Posted: Aug 31, 2018 12:38 PM
Updated: Aug 31, 2018 12:38 PM

President Donald Trump is in no mood to take lectures from John McCain and the weeklong national civics lesson the Arizona senator sketched with his own funeral rites.

On a day of poignant juxtaposition, McCain's flag draped coffin left his beloved home soil of Arizona for the last time Thursday after his friends eulogized a life embroidered with honor, self-sacrifice, American exceptionalism and the idea of serving a cause greater than oneself.

2016 Presidential election

Arizona

Continents and regions

Donald Trump

Eastern Europe

Elections (by type)

Elections and campaigns

Europe

Government and public administration

Government bodies and offices

Investigations

Joe Biden

John McCain

North America

Political candidates

Political Figures - US

Politics

Russia

Russia meddling investigation

Southwestern United States

The Americas

United States

US Federal elections

US federal government

US Presidential elections

White House

Leaving Washington to mourners, Trump flew west and unspooled the kind of brazen campaign trail performance -- tearing at the nation's political and cultural divides and bashing institutions such as the Justice Department -- that McCain planned his final goodbye to repudiate.

The former combat pilot's last flight ended in the gathering dusk of Joint Base Andrews outside Washington, as McCain was borne back to the capital, where he was once a ubiquitous figure, for the first time since December. Though McCain never became president, the military ceremony and sense of solemnity had the historic sense of a state occasion.

Less than an hour later, Trump, soaking in the adulation of a wildly cheering crowd, strolled on stage in Indiana to the strains of Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA" and opened his speech with a boast about his 2016 presidential win in the state and his economic record.

"Where the hell did she come from?" Trump asked, as his supporters booed a lone protester escorted from the arena, before bashing "dishonest, terrible" people in the media and lambasting the "old and corrupt ruling class," of which America could be "ashamed."

Chants of "lock her up, lock her up," echoed through the arena, aimed at Hillary Clinton.

The split screen moment of Trump, the showman in his element on stage, and Washington grandees gathering to mourn McCain, exemplified competing strains between traditional establishment politics and grassroots insurgencies at radical wings of each party that may define the just-stirring 2020 presidential campaign.

With that in mind, it seems fitting that in the next stage of McCain's farewell, his coffin will rest Friday in the Capitol Rotunda on the catafalque that first bore the remains of Abraham Lincoln, the President who warned his nation that "a house divided against itself cannot stand."

A feud that will not die

Thursday's political theater personified the running feud that has raged between McCain and Trump even after the Arizona statesman's death from brain cancer on Saturday.

On the one side is politics McCain-style, in which a sometimes irascible temperament, relish for battle and dedication to conservatism did not preclude the late senator carving friendships across the aisle or seeking compromise on some of the most divisive issues.

By meticulously planning his funeral arrangements, including addresses by former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama -- but not Trump -- McCain spelled out a clear message that he believed the current administration had taken an un-American turn.

On the other hand is the raucous rejection of traditional Washington values exemplified by Trump, whose insurgent fury, fondness for conspiracy theories and contempt for convention inspired Americans who felt rejected by the very political elites now lauding McCain.

Nearly two years since Trump's shock 2016 election win, McCain's brand of politics may be sorely missed by those who idealize it. But the President has the power, a fact that raises questions whether the nostalgia for McCain is also a valediction for a fading mode of politics.

Trump did not mention McCain at his rally. But earlier, he told Bloomberg News that he didn't think he had done anything wrong in his grudging response to his foe's death.

"We had our disagreements and they were very strong disagreements. I disagreed with many of the things that I assume he believed in," Trump said.

The values that McCain revered were encapsulated in a moving eulogy by his friend and Senate sparring partner, former Vice President Joe Biden at a memorial service in Phoenix.

"It was always about basic values with John: Fairness, honesty, dignity, respect; giving hate no safe harbor; leaving no one behind; and understanding that as Americans, we're part of something much bigger than ourselves," Biden said.

A volatile week, even by Trump's standards

Most politicians are ego driven, hungry for the next headline and sometimes attack the motives of their rivals, a practice Biden decried in his speech. But most take pains to hide such traits, and a few, such as McCain, honestly reflect on their own transgressions in a way that forges bonds with the public.

But Trump makes no attempt to disguise such behavior. His quintessential political insight was to put it at the core of his campaign trail persona -- and it helped him capture the Republican Party and the presidency. His unapologetic style is one reason he refused to temper his behavior in the week of McCain's passing -- and further alienated the more conventional politicians who loved the Arizona senator.

Trump's most fervent supporters would probably not recognize qualities in the President that Biden saw in McCain. But that is exactly what made him so popular with a political base ready to embrace a scorched earth candidate.

The proof has been everywhere in a week that has been volatile even by Trump's standards and suggests the President has little time for the notion that politics is about a cause greater than the individual. Often as he boasts about ratings and his poll numbers and his 2016 election triumph, it seems that for Trump, it's all about him.

Over the last week, Trump reacted to comparisons between him and McCain by offering lukewarm tributes and only belatedly lowering the flag over the White House to half-staff.

His determination to continue to wage a quarrel with a dead man exemplified his intense sensitivity to slights and prompted critics to conclude that he fails to put the wider duties of the office of the presidency above his personal image and preoccupations.

In the same vein, Trump's relentless humiliation of Jeff Sessions is born out of an often expressed resentment that the attorney general put his loyalty to the law before his personal fealty to the President by recusing himself from the Russia investigation.

Trump also obsessed about his press coverage and complained that Google was censoring favorable stories about him. He issued a defensive statement to rebut criticism of his personal handling of the North Korea nuclear crisis. He insisted his team had done a "fantastic job" when Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico, despite new figures showing that nearly 3,000 people died in last year's disaster.

Almost every day Trump slammed the "rigged Russia witch hunt," along with the FBI and the Justice Department, pillars of the political system that McCain saw as essential parts of the foundation of US democracy.

It reflected a presidency that is becoming less and less conventional the longer it goes and often seems to revolve almost exclusively around the whims and outbursts of Trump himself. There's no chance that the focus on McCain and the politics and civic sensibilities he prized will change minds in the GOP base. Whether it will rouse other sectors of the electorate will begin to be answered in the midterm elections in November.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 110592

Reported Deaths: 3171
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7731171
DeSoto655177
Harrison478481
Jackson429178
Rankin380086
Madison371092
Lee339279
Forrest292777
Jones281682
Washington250697
Lafayette241342
Lauderdale2329130
Lamar212038
Bolivar197775
Oktibbeha194154
Neshoba1795111
Lowndes173662
Panola164736
Leflore158786
Sunflower156749
Warren151854
Monroe143672
Pontotoc143019
Pike135555
Lincoln133954
Copiah133336
Marshall130026
Coahoma122836
Scott122729
Grenada119637
Simpson117648
Yazoo116933
Union113825
Holmes113060
Tate112339
Leake111839
Itawamba108724
Pearl River107456
Adams104042
Prentiss100919
Wayne97921
Alcorn94412
George93217
Marion92642
Covington90825
Tippah84820
Newton84227
Chickasaw81724
Tallahatchie81725
Winston81421
Tishomingo78640
Hancock76527
Attala76325
Clarke70948
Clay66621
Jasper66016
Walthall63427
Calhoun60912
Noxubee59516
Smith57716
Claiborne53016
Montgomery52723
Tunica51817
Lawrence48914
Yalobusha47914
Perry47522
Carroll45812
Greene44717
Stone44614
Amite41513
Quitman4096
Humphreys39916
Jefferson Davis39311
Webster36313
Wilkinson32920
Kemper31615
Benton3004
Sharkey27714
Jefferson26210
Franklin2283
Choctaw2036
Issaquena1063
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 152272

Reported Deaths: 2621
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson22300372
Mobile14273314
Tuscaloosa9886132
Montgomery9615196
Madison895192
Shelby700260
Lee643066
Baldwin636967
Marshall425348
Calhoun408459
Etowah399149
Morgan393232
Houston362332
DeKalb313326
Elmore308152
St. Clair276742
Limestone268327
Walker264192
Talladega253634
Cullman223923
Lauderdale204340
Autauga198928
Franklin198131
Jackson197914
Russell18993
Colbert188927
Dallas184527
Blount182723
Chilton178731
Escambia170328
Covington164429
Coffee16299
Dale161551
Pike130112
Tallapoosa126986
Chambers126643
Clarke126116
Marion103929
Butler99640
Barbour9819
Marengo96421
Winston88613
Geneva8297
Pickens79317
Randolph79314
Lawrence78830
Bibb78513
Hale73729
Cherokee71414
Clay70312
Lowndes69827
Bullock63417
Henry6286
Monroe6259
Washington62012
Crenshaw58830
Perry5796
Conecuh55413
Wilcox55412
Fayette54012
Macon52819
Cleburne5207
Sumter46421
Lamar4555
Choctaw38612
Greene33316
Coosa1963
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 73°
Columbus
Clear
76° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 76°
Oxford
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 68°
Starkville
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 66°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather