As we mourn the loss of Senator John McCain, a great American who served his country as a military hero and as one of the most influential and beloved political leaders of his generation, it is appropriate to reflect upon the often heated conflict between McCain and Donald Trump.
Fans of Donald Trump find it easy to dismiss John McCain as a Republican in Name Only (RINO) and a traitor to his party. To illustrate their case, they point to various public stances that McCain has taken over the years- some that they see as too liberal and others that they see as too conservative. As I have noted elsewhere, Trump should be a deeply concerning and polarizing figure to conservatives, given his rather stark departure from fundamental conservative principles and core beliefs about the relationship between individuals and society and the role of the state.
Consider all of the ways that Donald Trump has trashed conservative principles:
- The Federal Budget Deficits: Reckless Republicans are to Blame
- It is Time to Pay Attention to the Republican Revolt Against Donald Trump
- Trump Needs a Lot of Help with Foreign Policy
- Great Leaders Don’t Build Walls
- Is Donald Trump a Christian? Does He Really Love This Country? His Executive Order on Immigration Suggests That the Answer To Both Questions is NO
- Trump’s Republican Party is Not a Party for the Future-or the Past
- A Vote for Trump is a Vote for Big Government
- Republicans and Newspapers Are Rejecting Donald Trump to an Unprecedented Degree-but Not the National Enquirer and the Official Newspaper of the Ku Klux Klan
- Donald Trump is Not a Good Person, and Yes, He is MUCH Worse Than Hillary Clinton
- Donald Trump and Adam Smith: Who is the economic genius? (Hint: It’s Not Donald Trump)“Men in Search of a Myth….”
Finally, it is worth noting that, despite Trump’s critiques of McCain, it is John McCain- and not Trump- who was the real supporter of traditional conservative and Republican values.
“Last but not least, I was a Republican, a Reagan Republican,” writes McCain, who first entered Congress while President Ronald Reagan held the Oval Office. “Still am. Not a Tea Party Republican. Not a Breitbart Republican. Not a talk radio or Fox News Republican. Not an isolationist, protectionist, immigrant-bashing, scapegoating, get-nothing-useful-done Republican. Not, as I am often dismissed by self-declared ‘real’ conservatives, a RINO, Republican in Name Only.
“I’m a Reagan Republican, a proponent of lower taxes, less government, free markets, free trade, defense readiness, and democratic internationalism.”
McCain’s funeral also serves as an important reminder that Donald Trump is doing real damage to our political system and poisoning our political culture in a way that is fairly unprecedented, even at a time in which Americans are very polarized. McCain invited the two men, Barack Obama and George W. Bush, that defeated him in his two campaigns for the presidency to eulogize him. Yet he specifically asked that the sitting president, a member of his own party, not be invited to the ceremony.
Watching George W. Bush pass a piece of candy to Michelle Obama, while the Cheneys, Clintons, Bushes, Obamas, and Bidens- all opponents of John McCain at various points in his political career- sit together in celebration of his life, dramatizes the intentional absence of Donald Trump. The very pointed criticisms of Trump during the speeches eulogizing McCain further illustrate just how polarizing Trump has become.
As his final act, McCain clearly intended to send the message that Trump’s rhetoric, behavior, and policies are beyond the realm of the acceptable. McCain is a man whose politics have always been built around principled conservatism. His political role models included former Republican presidents Teddy Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan, men who stood up for the values that they held dear but always found ways to work with their political opponents and forge compromises for the good of the country.
The information below serves as a retrospective of John McCain and his adversarial relationship with Trump. I’ve put this together to illustrate how incompatible supporting John McCain is with supporting Donald Trump.
McCain opposed Trump.
- He opposed him as a person and he opposed his policies.
- He believed that Trump was doing real damage to our country.
- McCain did NOT believe this about Barack Obama.
- He did NOT believe this about George W. Bush.
- He did NOT believe this about Dick Cheney.
- He did NOT believe this about Hillary Clinton or Bill Clinton.
- He certainly did not believe this about Ronald Reagan.
If you wish to understand why he DID believe this about Donald Trump, read below.
- McCain was the REAL conservative.
- McCain was the REAL Republican.
- McCain was the REAL heir of Ronald Reagan’s legacy.
- McCain was the REAL representative of American greatness.
John McCain’s opinion matters and it should matter a lot to people who claim to stand for these values. Either the people who claim to believe these things will stand up for them or they will continue to stand with Donald Trump. John McCain’s life and last testament remind us that it is no longer possible to claim that you are doing both. If you are still standing with Trump, you are openly rejecting the values that made this country great, and you bear great responsibility for the damage that he continues to do to this great country that you claim to cherish.
by Laurie Kellman, Associated Press •September 1, 2018
WASHINGTON (AP) — A memorial service for the late Sen. John McCain on Saturday turned into a clear rebuke of President Donald Trump’s divisive politics as his daughter, two former presidents and political dignitaries used their tributes to call for a return to civility.
The audience of Washington power players erupted in applause.
Standing near McCain’s flag-draped casket and with Trump’s daughter among the audience at Washington National Cathedral, Meghan McCain delivered a broadside against the uninvited president without mentioning his name.
The nearly three-hour service was a remarkable show of defiance against a president McCain openly defied in life. The dignitaries included three former presidents, at least four former secretaries of state and members of the House and Senate, where McCain served for more than three decades. Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, also attended, while Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and others represented the administration in Trump’s absence.
Trump chose to head to his Virginia golf course during the service and tweeted his grievances against the FBI and NAFTA throughout the day.
McCain asked Obama and Bush to speak, choosing the Democrat and the Republican who had blocked his two bids for the White House. The former presidents drew on the senator’s legacy at home and abroad to speak of the nation’s values. Their pushback to Trump was more subtle than Meghan McCain’s but unmistakable nonetheless.
Obama spoke of the long talks he and McCain would have privately in the Oval Office and the senator’s understanding that America’s security and influence came not from “our ability to bend others to our will” but universal values of rule of law and human rights.
Bush said one of the great gifts in his life was becoming friends with his former White House rival. He said they would in later years recall their political battles like former football players remembering the big game.
But mostly Bush recalled a champion for the “forgotten people” at home and abroad whose legacy will serve as a reminder, even in times of doubt, of the power of America as more than a physical place but a “carrier of human aspirations.”
Washington’s past and present political elite bore witness. Among those in the front row at the cathedral were Michelle Obama, Laura Bush, Bill and Hillary Clinton, as well as Dick Cheney and Al Gore.
McCain’s motorcade arrived from the Capitol, where he laid in state overnight. Along the way, the procession stopped at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, where McCain’s wife, Cindy, placed a wreath.
It was the last public event in Washington, where McCain lived and worked over four decades, and part of McCain’s five-day, cross-country funeral procession. He died Aug. 25 at age 81.
McCain had long urged the Senate and the polarized nation to recognize the humanity even in bitter political opponents. McCain’s request for speeches by the former presidents, to some, represents that ideal.
McCain is to be buried Sunday at his alma mater, the U.S. Naval Academy, next to his best friend from the Class of 1958, Adm. Chuck Larson.
“Back,” McCain wrote on the last page of his recent memoir, “where it began.”
Lisa Mascaro contributed.
DONALD TRUMP PLAYED GOLF DURING JOHN MCCAIN’S FUNERAL
BY RAMSEY TOUCHBERRYON 9/1/18 AT 12:53 PM
While friends and family and virtually every powerful person in Washington, D.C., attended the Saturday memorial service of longtime Republican Senator John McCain in Washington, D.C., President Donald Trump headed to his northern Virginia golf club. Trump, who disliked and often insulted the Arizona senator for criticizing him, was not invited to attend McCain’s funeral. Former presidents, George W. Bush and Barack Obama gave speeches, as requested by McCain before he died August 25.
As of August 25, the president had spent more than a quarter of his presidency at one of his own golf courses.
Without mentioning the president by name, McCain’s daughter, Meghan, took a swipe at Trump during her Saturday morning tribute to her father, saying “ The America of John McCain is generous and welcoming and bold. She is resourceful and confident and secure. She meets her responsibilities, she speaks quietly because she is strong. America does not boast because she has no need to,” she added.
US president told to ‘show some respect’ after online rant during memorial service
Leading political figures, including three former presidents – Barack Obama, George Bush, and Bill Clinton – came together to pay tribute to the late senator from Arizona.
But the current US leader, who was not invited to the memorial at the Washington National Cathedral, decided to head to a Virginia golf course.
There, he tweeted about the dispute about the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with the Canadian government.
“There is no political necessity to keep Canada in the new NAFTA deal,” he wrote. “If we don’t make a fair deal for the US after decades of abuse, Canada will be out. Congress should not interfere w/ these negotiations or I will simply terminate NAFTA entirely & we will be far better off…”
Shortly afterward, he followed up with: “Remember, NAFTA was one of the WORST Trade Deals ever made. The US lost thousands of businesses and millions of jobs.
Some Twitter users quickly urged Mr. Trump to “show some respect,” asking him to stay off the platform while Mr. McCain’s funeral took place at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.
Among those paying tribute were the former presidents George W Bush and Barack Obama, along with his children and wife Cindy McCain.
Mr. Trump did not mention the senator’s funeral.
“Only a true egomaniac would throw a tantrum to distract from a funeral.”tweet from Robert Reich, a professor at the University of California, Berkley
“Respect the dead, hold your tweets till after the funeral.”tweet from rapper Twista
Author and editor Christopher Dickey said Mr. Trump’s tweets “keep interrupting the feeds from the McCain funeral, which is so much more important to the future of the United States than your imagined prowess as a deal maker.”
Immigration lawyer Mana Yegani added: “He doesn’t know what to do but send out irrelevant tweets. Trump getting completely ignored on this day of Remembrance.”
The US president reportedly arrived at the golf course just as the funeral was getting underway.
He had earlier tweeted about the Russia investigation, attacking the FBI, Justice Department and the infamous dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele.
By NOAH BIERMAN,AUG 27, 2018, Los Angeles Times
Sen. John McCain’s decision to exclude President Trump from his funeral is an extraordinary moment on its own, a posthumous rebuke from an American icon who regarded the presidency as sacred and believed its current occupant defiles that office.
Yet Trump’s exclusion from such high-profile events of mourning and celebration — where American presidents are typically counted on to stand in for an entire nation — is emerging as a pattern over his 19 months in office.
But critics say Trump created the isolation by his occasionally outrageous behavior, by reveling in a politics that feeds conspiracy theories, humiliates rivals and disdains basic notions of civility.
Trump’s response to McCain’s death on Saturday afternoon was just the sort of break from presidential tradition and civility that alienates many.
After lowering the American flag to half-staff on Sunday, by Monday the White House had raised it fully, weaponizing the visual sign of respect even as flags remained lowered at federal buildings throughout Washington, including the Capitol. Aides did not respond to requests to explain the decision.
Trump also declined initially to issue the usual official proclamation honoring McCain or to answer reporters’ questions about him in three appearances at the White House on Monday. Instead, he spent the weekend playing golf and tweeting about the strength of the economy and his own popularity, despite polls to the contrary.
However, after petitions of protest from the nation’s leading veterans’ organizations, the White House later Monday released a proclamation that flags would remain at half-staff until McCain’s burial on Sunday.
John Weaver, a top advisor in McCain’s 2000 and 2008 presidential campaigns, noted in an interview that McCain chose Republican Bush and Democrat Obama, two men from different parties who defeated him in those presidential races, to deliver eulogies at his funeral. He said McCain probably wanted to send a message that politics could get ugly, but not so ugly that fellow Americans become enemies.
John McCain and Donald Trump: History of Conflict
Trump’s Insults of McCain
June 30, 2015:
“I just disagree with his comments about the, quote, Mexicans,” McCain said about the campaign speech in which Trump suggested Mexican immigrants bring “drugs” and “crime” into the U.S. and that some of them are “rapists.”
July 16, 2015:
Less than three weeks later, at a campaign rally in Arizona, Trump called out McCain for being weak as the candidate began honing a get-tough message on immigration.
“We have incompetent politicians, not only the president,” Trump told the crowd. “I mean, right here, in your own state, you have John McCain.”
In response, McCain told The New Yorker that what Trump did at his rally had “fired up the crazies.”
McCain Issues Veiled Criticism Of Trump’s Vietnam Deferment
By ASSOCIATED PRESS• OCT 23, 2017
U.S. Sen. John McCain has issued a veiled criticism of President Donald Trump’s medical deferments that kept him from serving in the Vietnam War.
In an interview with C-SPAN last week, McCain lamented that the military “drafted the lowest income level of America and the highest income level found a doctor that would say they had a bone spur.”
One of Trump’s five draft deferments came as a result of a physician’s letter stating he suffered from bone spurs in his feet. Trump’s presidential campaign described the issue as a temporary problem.
McCain spent six years as a prisoner of war after his plane was shot down over North Vietnam in 1967.
Trump derided McCain’s service in 2015, stating his fellow Republican wasn’t a “war hero” and adding “I like people who weren’t captured.”
Trump’s Support for Russia and Putin: What Would Ronald Reagan Say?
McCain’s Assisted FBI in Investigation of Russian Collusion
McCain’s Criticism of Trump’s Worldview: What Would Ronald Reagan Say?
“But I don’t take that for granted. We have to fight. We have to fight against propaganda and crackpot conspiracy theories. We have to fight isolationism, protectionism, and nativism. We have to defeat those who would worsen our divisions. We have to remind our sons and daughters that we became the most powerful nation on earth by tearing down walls, not building them.John McCain
Trump’s Opposition to Free Trade: What Would Ronald Reagan Say?
McCain Criticizes Trump’s Disrespect Towards Veterans
“I’m not sure what to make of President Trump’s convictions. The appearance of toughness or a reality show facsimile of toughness seems to matter more than any of our values.”John McCain
But just before the 2016 election, a video recording surfaced of Mr Trump making graphic and obscene remarks about women.
In the video, Mr Trump said “you can do anything” to women “when you’re a star” and bragged about trying to grope and kiss women.
Mr. McCain swiftly withdrew his support, saying Mr. Trump should “suffer the consequences” of his remarks.
“I have wanted to support the candidate our party nominated. He was not my choice, but as a past nominee, I thought it important I respect the fact that Donald Trump won a majority of the delegates by the rules our party set. But Donald Trump’s behavior this week, concluding with the disclosure of his demeaning comments about women and his boasts about sexual assaults, make it impossible to continue to offer even conditional support for his candidacy.
Cindy and I will not vote for Donald Trump. I have never voted for a Democratic presidential candidate and we will not vote for Hillary Clinton. We will write in the name of some good conservative Republican who is qualified to be president.”John McCain in a statement prior to the 2016 presidential election
My fellow Americans, whom I have gratefully served for sixty years, and especially my fellow Arizonans,
Thank you for the privilege of serving you and for the rewarding life that service in uniform and in public office has allowed me to lead. I have tried to serve our country honorably. I have made mistakes, but I hope my love for America will be weighed favorably against them.
I have often observed that I am the luckiest person on earth. I feel that way even now as I prepare for the end of my life. I have loved my life, all of it. I have had experiences, adventures and friendships enough for ten satisfying lives, and I am so thankful. Like most people, I have regrets. But I would not trade a day of my life, in good or bad times, for the best day of anyone else’s.
I owe that satisfaction to the love of my family. No man ever had a more loving wife or children he was prouder of than I am of mine. And I owe it to America. To be connected to America’s causes — liberty, equal justice, respect for the dignity of all people — brings happiness more sublime than life’s fleeting pleasures. Our identities and sense of worth are not circumscribed but enlarged by serving good causes bigger than ourselves.
Fellow Americans’ — that association has meant more to me than any other. I lived and died a proud American. We are citizens of the world’s greatest republic, a nation of ideals, not blood and soil. We are blessed and are a blessing to humanity when we uphold and advance those ideals at home and in the world. We have helped liberate more people from tyranny and poverty than ever before in history. We have acquired great wealth and power in the process
.We weaken our greatness when we confuse our patriotism with tribal rivalries that have sown resentment and hatred and violence in all the corners of the globe. We weaken it when we hide behind walls, rather than tear them down, when we doubt the power of our ideals, rather than trust them to be the great force for change they have always been.
We are three-hundred-and-twenty-five million opinionated, vociferous individuals. We argue and compete and sometimes even vilify each other in our raucous public debates. But we have always had so much more in common with each other than in disagreement. If only we remember that and give each other the benefit of the presumption that we all love our country we will get through these challenging times. We will come through them stronger than before. We always do.
Ten years ago, I had the privilege to concede defeat in the election for president. I want to end my farewell to you with the heartfelt faith in Americans that I felt so powerfully that evening.
I feel it powerfully still.
Do not despair of our present difficulties but believe always in the promise and greatness of America, because nothing is inevitable here. Americans never quit. We never surrender. We never hide from history. We make history.
Farewell, fellow Americans. God bless you, and God bless America.