In the concluding act of a week marked by tributes and memorials to John McCain, the late senator was finally laid to rest at his beloved U.S. Naval Academy on Sunday. A horse-drawn caisson led a procession headed by his widow, Cindy McCain, and their children. They were joined by military leaders and some of McCain’s Annapolis classmates.
McCain’s was the last of three high-profile deaths over the summer, each of which was distinct, yet had one thing in common: They were political footballs.
Perhaps it was inevitable in the toxic swamp that is American politics circa 2018. After all, the left and their allies in the political and media establishment have managed to politicize everything that isn’t nailed down, so why should we be surprised when they turn death itself into a political event?
Was the president sufficiently mournful of John McCain? Why would Al Sharpton draw the recently deceased Aretha Franklin into his diatribe on the evils of Donald Trump? Why would a fake Indian senator coldy turn the death of a teenage girl in Iowa into a talking point about the evils of our immigration system?
These people apparently believe there is political profit to be made from the demise of a person who can no longer speak for themselves.
This is not an entirely new phenomenon. It was hard to miss, for example, that after his death in 1987, former CIA Director William J. Casey was blamed by the Ollie North crowd for inciting the Iran-Contra scandal on top of almost every other unexplained controversy. Just blame the dead guy. What is he going to do? Those who feared and loathed Baroness Margaret Thatcher could not defeat her in life, so they took to immortalizing her late-life dementia following her death.
But these days, the politicization of death is driven by the onset of an epidemic-level outbreak of Trump Derangement Syndrome, on top of politicians’ inherent proclivity for front-running and virtue-signaling. What could make you appear more compassionate than saying wonderful things about someone who has just expired?
President Trump was the one who chose not to politicize McCain’s death, meaning he refused to offer up false praise for a man he intensely disliked – and of course, the feeling was mutual. He could have done what most every politician did this past week in rushing to the cameras for gushing tributes, thereby masking the reality that McCain was widely disliked by his Senate colleagues and most in Washington. The president sent out a perfunctory tweet – “thoughts and prayers…” – but was not about to beg for an invitation to a funeral where he was not wanted. He cares not one whit whether he is beloved by the McCain family, or whether his myriad critics label his behavior as “unpresidential.”
But we witnessed the opposite from McCain’s family in the person of his daughter Meghan, a self-proclaimed conservative profiting from her family name as a co-host of ABC’s wretched The View. Displaying the oddest of emotions for such an occasion, defiant anger, which morphed into virtually unchecked emotional collapse, and evidently unsatisfied with just famously uninviting the President of the United States, young Ms. McCain took advantage of the solemn occasion to take multiple obvious, gratuitous, and cringe-worthy swipes at the sitting president. It was as inappropriate as it was embarrassing. She said:
“We gather here to mourn the passing of American greatness, the real thing, not cheap rhetoric from men who will never come near the sacrifice he gave so willingly, nor the opportunistic appropriation of those who live lives of comfort and privilege while he suffered and served.. The America of John McCain had no need to be made great again – because America was always great.”
It seems petty vindictiveness runs in the family. One might expect such behavior from perpetual critics of President Trump, but from the daughter of the deceased, at his funeral, on national TV? Maybe now we can quit hearing the lectures about the president’s boorish behavior, and how it is in such stark contrast to the grace and dignity of the likes of the McCain family. Then again, probably not.
Trump had the simplest of responses to Ms. McCain:
MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 1, 2018
Not to be outdone, Trump’s predecessor in the Oval Office, Barack Obama, added a thinly-veiled rebuke of his successor in his own eulogy to the man he defeated in the 2008 presidential election:
“So much of our politics, our public life, our public discourse can seem small and mean and petty, trafficking in bombast and insults and phony controversies and manufactured outrage… It is a politics that pretends to be brave, and tough, but in fact is born of fear. John called on us to be bigger and better than that.”
Was it bigger and better than Trump when Obama promised repeatedly and falsely sold his healthcare scheme by claiming it would allow you to keep your own health plan and your own doctor, and save $2500 a year? Was it bigger and better when Obama’s IRS shamelessly targeted conservative organizations in the manner of a police state? Was it bigger and better when McCain voted in vengeance against the Bush 43 tax cuts? How about when he killed a repeal of Obamacare in his last act of retribution against a man who said something mean about him?
Yup, bigger and better.
The McCain funeral puts the lie to all the blather about how the political establishment is guided by Marquess of Queensbury rules, with Trump again at the center of unmasking yet another Washington illusion for all the world to see. Everyone knows these people think, say, and do the same things in private that Trump is uniquely willing to do in public, but they act shocked and appalled by the president’s “uncivilized” behavior.
Then there was the funeral of the late great Aretha Franklin, when Rev. Jasper Williams wound the stem on how the black community is “losing its soul” during the marathon eight-hour service. He blamed integration and the civil rights movement for ripping the heart out of black self-reliance. After the pastor proclaimed that black lives do not matter if black people do not respect themselves (using Aretha’s most famous number, RESPECT, and unlike Rev. Sharpton, not misspelling it), the legendary Stevie Wonder yelled “Black Lives Matter.” Rev. Williams was attacked by social media trolls for misogyny, bigotry, and peddling false science about race.
When Iowa teenager Mollie Tibbetts was murdered by an illegal immigrant in July, immigration hard-liners readily took to the media to magnify the newest Exhibit A in the case for zero-tolerance on illegals, while Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) demonstrated her tone-deafness and cold-blooded political instincts when she appeared on CNN:
I’m so sorry for the family here, and I know this is hard not only for her family, but for people in her community, the people throughout Iowa. But one of the things we have to remember is we need an immigration system that is effective, that focuses on where real problems are. Last month, I went down to the border and I saw where children had been taken away from their mothers…separating a mama from a baby does not make this country safer.
Breathtaking stuff. But when everything in life has now become subject to political manipulation, we should hardly expect anything less when it comes to death.