Arizona Views: This has to stop, Mr. President

March 24, 2019

“I’m not a fan of John McCain,” President Donald Trump said again this past week in an interview taped for Fox Business Network.

Yes, we get it.

The comment was one of many. Unfortunately, I am unsure why we need to keep hearing it, seven months after the senior U.S. senator from Arizona died.

In my journalism career I have met a lot of big names in our political world — Mitt Romney, Pat Buchanan, Jesse Jackson, Michael Dukakis, Jeff Flake, Paul Gosar, Ann Kirkpatrick … the list is longer than that, and I could count many state officials too. I have covered their campaigns, interviewed them for articles and editorials, or just met them and talked with them.

My favorite was John McCain.

He not only did a lot of good while in service to our country — whether in Washington, D.C., in Arizona, or in the Navy — he also made himself available. It is called true transparency. In fact, he would stop by the Courier’s office; often it was annually, a few times it was two or three times a year. And it was like talking with a friend, without a host of handlers in tow.

I don’t get why Trump is being so hateful. He calls into question McCain’s funeral, his service to veterans, legislation he championed, things he allegedly did or didn’t do, and more. Our president has been relentless in delivering disparaging comments about a man who cannot defend himself.

McCain was a man of honor. He had strong moral principles. Sadly, too many of McCain’s colleagues have been largely silent — whether Republican or Democrat.

“I do not appreciate (Trump’s) tweets. John McCain was a dear friend of mine,” Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa, a member of the Republican leadership and a veteran, said at a town hall meeting, according to the Associated Press. “No, I don’t agree with President Trump. And he does need to stop that.”

Oh, but he has not.

Trump has been on this rampage for years, saying he doesn’t think McCain is a hero because the senator was captured in Vietnam. This, coming from a man who never served in the military and obtained deferments to avoid going, including one from a physician stating he suffered from bone spurs.

Bone spurs? Whatever. McCain served and, notably, was tortured and held prisoner for more than five years.

“We only said goodbye to him almost 7 months ago,” McCain’s daughter, Bridget, tweeted to Trump on Thursday. “Even if you were invited to my dad’s funeral, you would have only wanted to be there for the credit and not for any condolences. Unfortunately, you could not be counted on to be courteous, as you are a child in the most important role the world knows.”

I figure that this is only political. Trump’s grudge against McCain has not appeared to alienate his core supporters, some of whom soured on the senator by the time of his death — likely because of his 11th hour vote that sank the GOP effort to repeal President Barack Obama’s health care law. Again, though, most GOP lawmakers are staying subdued or silent — though Trump sometimes infuriates them with his comments.

A man of integrity. A hero. A man who was elected and did what he thought was right — often reaching across the aisle for bipartisanship. Too many politicians go off the rails, eying only re-election. While I did not always agree with his votes, I respected McCain for his reasoning and conviction.

Political? Other than Trump shoring up his supporters, I think not. Maybe it is about ego.

Knock it off and get back to work, Mr. President.