Donald Trump tries to ignore John McCain, the war hero, long-time US Senator, and Presidential candidate who died on Saturday.
McCain succumbed to brain cancer, only a day after his family said he had halted treatment. He is being honored in tributes today by friends, journalists, veterans, and politicians from all parties. Barack Obama, who defeated McCain in the 2008 Presidential election, wrote:
Our statement on the passing of Senator John McCain: pic.twitter.com/3GBjNYxoj5
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) August 26, 2018
In contrast, Trump continued his refusal to say McCain’s name even after news broke of the Senator’s passing. He — or his staff — put out the brief message:
My deepest sympathies and respect go out to the family of Senator John McCain. Our hearts and prayers are with you!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 26, 2018
On Trump’s Instagram account, the statement was accompanied not by a picture of McCain but of Trump:
Last Tuesday, Trump continued his insults and mocking of McCain. He complained to a rally in West Virginia, without mentioning McCain’s name.
You know, we had it beaten, but one man — I’m sure nobody knows who I’m talking about — voted no, shockingly. Really surprising to a lot of people, because he campaigned on repeal and replace, but we’ve really knocked it out, including the individual mandate.
Trump then let reporters know that there would be no tribute when McCain succumbed.
Trump has told White House aides he does not regret saying McCain is not a war hero. He tells advisers that McCain has a vendetta against him and that he wishes he’d step down. He doesn’t plan to say a laudatory word about the ailing senator. https://t.co/3RWOBSHKdH
— Josh Dawsey (@jdawsey1) August 25, 2018
“I Like People That Weren’t Captured”
Trump’s personal campaign against McCain, whom he declared was a “dummy”, escalated in July 2015, when he sneered at McCain’s 5 1/2 years as a prisoner of war — in which the Air Force pilot was tortured, leaving him with serious injuries for life.
Trump said, “He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured”:
The Senator and Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican Presidential nominee, questioned Trump’s fitness for office amid questions about Trump’s conflicts of interest, his framing of climate change as a “hoax”, and his deception about his position on the 2003 Iraq War. (Trump claimed he had opposed intervention, when in fact he had supported the invasion.)
Despite his antipathy for Trump, McCain said he would support the Republican Party’s nominee. But hostilities resumed when Trump belittled the parents of a Muslim Army captain killed by a suicide bomber in Iraq, just after they spoke at the Democratic National Convention.
“While our party has bestowed upon him the nomination, it is not accompanied by unfettered license to defame those who are the best among us,” McCain said. “I challenge the nominee to set the example for what our country can and should represent.”
In October, McCain withdrew his support for Trump after the revelation of the Access Hollywood video from 2005, in which Trump bragged about sexually accosting women. After Trump’s victory, the Senator said he would temporarily refrain from public discussion of Trump, but unsettled by the new President’s impulsive behavior and executive orders, McCain resumed his questioning.
At the Munich Security Conference in February 2017, McCain expressed concern about Trump’s damaging of long-standing alliance: “Make no mistake, my friends, these are dangerous times. But you should not count America out, and we should not count each other out.”
A day later, McCain expressed concern about Trump’s comprehension of issues and forcefully rejected the framing of journalists as the “enemy of the American people”:
The first thing that dictators do is shut down the press. We need to learn the lessons of history.
Last month, after Trump praised Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Helsinki Summit — preferring Putin over the assessment of US intelligence agencies — McCain said, “No prior president has ever abased himself more abjectly before a tyrant.”
Two weeks ago, signing a $716 billion military spending bill named for McCain, Trump never mentioned the Senator.