A Particularly Sad Ethics Dunce: Senator John McCain

As I already have noted here more than once, Senator John McCain’s ethical course was to resign from the Senate even before he got his brain cancer diagnosis, and definitely afterward.  He is a courageous and admirable man in many ways, but the one of the hardest duties in life is to give up power and influence, and say goodbye when the time comes. The senator is not alone in failing this ethics test, indeed he is in distinguished company: FDR, Babe Ruth, Frank Sinatra, Muhammad Ali, Lawrence Tribe,  Clarence Darrow, too many Supreme Court justices, including a couple current ones, and lots of U.S. Senators. Nonetheless, it is a failing, and in McCain’s case the failing has been compounded by his regrettable decision to use his status as a dying man to exploit the reluctance of critics to address the wrongdoing of the afflicted. He has decided top settle old scores in his final days. The conduct is petty and erodes his legacy, as well as the respect he had earned in his long career of national service. It is too bad.

Much of McCain’s self-indulgence is directed at President Trump, whom he is now insulting with mad abandon, banning him, for example, from the Senator’s funeral in advance. This is vengeance, nothing more ennobling, for Candidate Trump’s outrageous disrespect toward McCain and other prisoners of war when Trump said that he did not regard them as heroes. McCain revenge is thus a display of the kind of non-ethics Donald Trump believes in: tit-for tat, mob ethics, hit ’em back harder. The political theme since November 2016 is that the President’s enemies cannot resist lowering themselves to his level, or in some cases, below it. Strike-backs from beyond the grave are particularly unbecoming, but McCain is seething, and apparently can’t muster the other cheek, graciousness, or statesmanship. Too bad.

Particularly mean and churlish is McCain’s revelation in his new memoir, “The Restless Wave: Good Times, Just Causes, Great Fights, and other Appreciations,” that he now regrets selecting Sarah Palin as his running mate and wishes he had instead selected his friend, former Sen. Joseph Lieberman. This is beyond ungallant; it’s ducking accountability. McCain, all by himself, ran a terrible, inept, clumsy campaign, and deserved to lose. He almost certainly would have lost worse if Palin, for all her quirks and flaws, were not on the ticket. She drew conservatives to the polls as he could not, and as Lieberman definitely could not. That McCain thinks that two old white guys would have had a chance against Barack Obama shows how detached from reality is, and perhaps always was. He is engaging in after-the-fact blame-casting, Monday morning quarterbacking and hindsight bias, and it is beneath him.

Or, at least, I once thought it was.

Too bad.

 

63 Comments

Filed under Character, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, Leadership

63 responses to “A Particularly Sad Ethics Dunce: Senator John McCain

  1. McCain’s favorite president is Teddy Roosevelt. Palin and TR (when tapped as VP) had certain narrative similarities: youthful, with large, young families, outdoorswoman/-man; maverick governor who overcame a political machine. I’ve long thought that McCain tapped into his TR crush when he chose Palin.

  2. Other Bill

    I think McCain made the mistake of thinking he could charm the media into thinking he was their guy and thereby win the election. I’m always suspicious of guys who marry for wealth. John Kerry, the Symingtons, among others.

  3. Chris

    • Personally, I think that is a juvenile and unethical sentiment. He cannot do that, because he represents more than just himself. Whoever wrote that wasn’t thinking. And stop appealing to anonymous tweets as authority. Especially dumb ones.

      • Chris

        “Anonymous?” It’s Popehat. And he’s right.

        • There are still at least three bloggers active on Popehat, and maybe more on Twitter. And whoever it is, he’s unethical and wrong.

          • Chris

            The Twitter account has been run exclusively by Ken White for at least two years now.

            • Oh, who cares? Ken says wrong, emotional and stupid things frequently, as do we all. His orientation is 100% law and libertarianism; I’ll yield to his take often in those fields. My fields include ethics and leadership, and in a case like this, he has no authority, just a mistaken opinion.

        • Just because those choices were his right to make doesn’t make them the right choices. Ken is right in that McCain can go out however he damn well pleases, because no one can stop him…. But several of the choices McCain has made regarding that exist have been exceedingly shitty.

  4. Chris

    To be succinct, lately you have forgotten the difference between “tit-for-tat” and forcing someone to live with the rational and fair social consequences of their actions. I can tell you that if I ever become a prisoner-of-war and someone insults me for it, that person isn’t fucking invited to my funeral either. No, not even if that person is the president. That is not an unethical request. That is not a rationalization. That is not even vengeance. That is just. That is ethical. The message is “Don’t insult prisoners of war.” To judge McCain more harshly for his fair and proportional reaction to this insult than Trump for making it is the worst type of today-turvy contrarianism.

    And he’s right about Palin, too. The idea that Palin cost him the election is hardly a fringe theory, and can’t credibly be called “detached from reality.” It’s highly likely she alienated as many voters as she attracted.

    • Chris

      *topsy-turvy

      • Chris

        No, YOU don’t comprehend the dichotomy between public and private obligations. McCain is supposed to be a statesman, and doesn’t have the luxury of petty feuds and payback—not without breaching his duty as a representative of the United States.

        It isn’t a “petty feud,” not on McCain’s end. Again, McCain’s response is a fair, proportional and justified reaction to Trump’s petty attacks on him.

        I’ve argued these issues sufficiently with you that I know the concept is beyond you. Professionals do not take professional attacks personally, or respond in personal terms.

        You are seriously characterizing Trump’s “I like people who didn’t get captured” line as a professional attack? That’s crazy. It was a personal attack. A professional attack would be a criticism of McCain’s performance as Senator.

        Again, the message of McCain’s choice here is “Don’t insult prisoners of war for being prisoners of war.” That message is more important to send to the President of the United States, not less. What you are saying is that Trump’s position grants him immunity from the fair social consequences of his own behavior. That is an authoritarian mindset.

        • Ugh. What part of the “two wrongs don’t make a right” Ethics 101 concept is so hard for you, and why? Yes, Trump’s comment was an unprofessional, mean-spirited slur. 100% Irrelevant to McCain’s duty to stay professional himself. As I said, you’re hopeless on this.

          • Chris

            Ugh. What part of the “two wrongs don’t make a right” Ethics 101 concept is so hard for you, and why? Yes, Trump’s comment was an unprofessional, mean-spirited slur. 100% Irrelevant to McCain’s duty to stay professional himself. As I said, you’re hopeless on this.

            I understand the concept fine. As I pointed out earlier, you don’t understand the difference between tit for tat and justified social consequences for bad behavior. Social ostracism as a response to horrific comments isn’t a “wrong” at all. There should be fair and proportional personal and professional consequences for Trump’s unethical behavior. Since he likely cannot be ethically or successfully impeached at the moment, we will have to settle for this, and you and he will have to deal with it.

            That is fair. That is ethical. Blind deference to power isn’t.

            • As I said. You don’t get it. What a US Senator does regarding the President of the United States is not “social.” by definition it is public, political and official. All living former and sitting Presidents attended Richard Nixon’s funeral, including those who had favored his impeachment during his life. Nixon was often petty and vindictive, but wouldn’t go as far as McCain. When you are more petty and vindictive than Richard Nixon, that’s extreme…and revealing.

              • Chris

                What a US Senator does regarding the President of the United States is not “social.” by definition it is public, political and official.

                What would be a rational, fair and proportional consequence for Trump’s attack on McCain’s service, plus all his other bad behavior, in your mind?

                We both agree that there are certain consequences that would be out of bounds. I’ve already said he shouldn’t be impeached yet.

                But lately you’ve added a whole bunch of other consequences that you think are unethical and unacceptable. A comedian making jokes about Trump and the liars who enable him, for example. Now this.

                It begins to sound a lot like you don’t think Trump and his people should ever face any consequences for their behavior, ever.

              • Chris

                There should be public, political and official consequences for presidential candidates who call POWs losers for getting captured, so that characterization doesn’t change my opinion one bit. Said POW saying he doesn’t want that person at his funeral is still a rational and proportionate consequence.

                • Steve-O-in-NJ

                  How about Senators who lie about presidential candidates from the other party on the floor of the Senate, then later say the other side’s entire field are losers? Should Harry Reid be rightly condemned to infamy during whatever time he has before the Grim Reaper comes for him?

    • No, YOU don’t comprehend the dichotomy between public and private obligations. McCain is supposed to be a statesman, and doesn’t have the luxury of petty feuds and payback—not without breaching his duty as a representative of the United States. I’ve argued these issues sufficiently with you that I know the concept is beyond you. Professionals do not take professional attacks personally, or respond in personal terms. McCain has abandoned his professional ethics. Simple as that, and obvious.

      • Other Bill

        Chris and his ilk are all ad hominem all the time. Seems like a relatively new development. It’s really vicious and unrelenting. Anyone who disagrees with him and lefty orthodoxy is an idiot. I get the same thing from my forty something son and it’s really a dreadful combination of disheartening and annoying.

      • Jim

        I have some experience with a family member who succumbed to the same type of cancer, which we suspected resulted in exposure to Agent Orange. Very quickly in that disease he was no longer capable of rational thought, and confused memories and events constantly. While I’m no McCain fan, being from the Military Fraternity of the Vietnam era, I place the blame for these recent comments at the door of his family and assistants. They should realize his brain function is impaired and not allow these statements to become public and stain what reputation he has left.

    • “And he’s right about Palin, too. The idea that Palin cost him the election is hardly a fringe theory, and can’t credibly be called “detached from reality.” ”

      The way that the media sowed fear for McCain was to point out that he was old and had health problems, if he died, Palin would be president! Then the media attacked Palin in such a way as to seem insane and stupid. Palin never actually said that she could see Russia from her porch in Alaska, for example, that was an actress on SNL.

      But did that actually cost him the election? Well… I mean… Maybe, but I don’t think so. We’d just come off 8 years of Bush, and my interpretation at the time was that the Democrats could have run a fire hydrant and won. Democrats, I’m pretty sure, knew that too, which is why they backed two unconventional candidates (Obama and Clinton) as nominees instead of what would have, especially at the time, be seen as more conventional and safe choices.

      More than that, the Democrats weren’t much more concerned with the truth then as they are now. I mean… At the time, McCain and Palin were both smeared as insane, unintelligent, racist and evil. McCain… for Christ sake… Perhaps the most inoffensive and milquetoast of candidates ever. But it worked! And the Democrats knew it worked, so they trotted it out again against an even less offensive candidate in Mitt Romney, and it kind of worked, which must have made the American Immunization from name calling all the more galling when they were finally hurled at someone who might have actually been crazy, unintelligent and evil. Oops.

      But would… Joe… Lieberman… have been… I’m sorry, I can’t write this with a straight face. Joe who? Whether or not you think that Palin hurt McCain, which is still McCain’s fault because he chose her, but whether or not you think Palin hurt McCain… If you think Joe Lieberman would have helped him…. Whew lad.

      And what’s worse… Even if you believe that it’s true (whew lad), It is SO shitty of McCain to say so. It would be like Hillary throwing Tim Kaine under the bus as the reason she didn’t win… And come to think of it, Kaine is probably the only person Hillary HASN’T thrown under the bus to avoid accountability, probably because even she realizes how shitty it would be for her to do so.

      • Chris

        Then the media attacked Palin in such a way as to seem insane and stupid. Palin never actually said that she could see Russia from her porch in Alaska, for example, that was an actress on SNL.

        I’m a little insulted that you think I don’t know that. Everyone knows that. Most people also know that that joke was based on real (and really dumb) comments she made about having foreign policy experience because of Alaska’s close proximity to Russia. That the media treated Palin unfairly is something I will concede, but that does not mean that she was stupid, unqualified and extreme in a way that would be unrivaled in a candidate for major federal office until Trump came along. Remember “death panels?” Remember when she blamed Obama for her son’s domestic abuse arrest? The woman is nuts.

        Whether or not you think that Palin hurt McCain, which is still McCain’s fault because he chose her,

        I agree with that, and so does McCain.

        • Chris

          Gah.

          That the media treated Palin unfairly is something I will concede, but that does not mean that she *wasn’t stupid, unqualified and extreme in a way that would be unrivaled in a candidate for major federal office until Trump came along.

          • Gah yourself. She was more qualified for executive office than Obama. She was a better publuc speaker than McCain, either Bush, or Hillary. She is not stupid, and on the record, not close to AS stupid as her Democratic counterpart, a veritable dolt. And “extreme” is a subjective term. Obama can be called “extreme” with as much justification.

            • Chris

              She was a better publuc speaker than McCain, either Bush, or Hillary. She is not stupid, and on the record, not close to AS stupid as her Democratic counterpart, a veritable dolt.

              ‘Mkay.

              “We believe”? Wait, I thought fast food joints, hurh. Don’t you guys think that they’re like of the Devil or somethin’ I was. Liberals, you want to send those evil employees who would dare work at a fast food joint then ya just don’t believe in, thought you wanted to, I dunno, send them to Purgatory or somethin’ so they all go VEGAN and, uh, wages and picket lines I dunno they’re not often discussed in Purgatory, are they? I dunno why are you even worried about fast food wages because dha.

              • Similar blather can be found on virtually any public figure. Don’t make me track down Nancy Pelosi videos. And Using post political career episodes to justify 2008 bias is per se dirty pool. Maybe she was drunk: She’s still not stupid. This is classic leftist classism and arrogance on your part.

                • Chris

                  1) I’ve never defended Nancy Pelosi.
                  2) I can find plenty of similarly dumb Palin videos before the 2008 election.
                  3) I didn’t justify 2008 bias.
                  4) Getting drunk before recording a video that one chooses to then post is stupid.
                  5) “Classism?” You’ve got to be kidding me.

                  Other than that, good points.

                  • 1.I didn’t suggest you defended Nancy Pelosi.
                    2. No, you can’t. Palin is mostly lucid, and often wickedly on point.
                    3. You, like McCain, are trying to validate after the fact.
                    4. Again, what Palin does now that she has no public position or responsibility is irrelevant to her run in 2008.
                    5. It’s classicism, just like a lot of the contempt for Trump is classism.

                    • Chris

                      1. .I didn’t suggest you defended Nancy Pelosi.

                      “Don’t make me track down Nancy Pelosi” videos implies that Palin is less of an idiot or the same level of idiot as Nancy Pelosi, which is irrelevant whataboutism. They’re both idiots. Are you happy?

                      2. No, you can’t. Palin is mostly lucid, and often wickedly on point.

                      This is your bias talking.

                      3. You, like McCain, are trying to validate after the fact.

                      Validate what? You said it doesn’t validate media bias; McCain certainly wasn’t validating media bias against his own campaign, and I already said that the media was biased against them. So what are you saying here?

                      4. Again, what Palin does now that she has no public position or responsibility is irrelevant to her run in 2008.

                      She’s an idiot now and she was an idiot then. Again, I can pull up plenty of examples of her idiocy in 2008 if you ask.

                      5. It’s classicism, just like a lot of the contempt for Trump is classism.

                      Palin and Trump each have more money than I will ever see in my life. They are both several social and economic classes ahead of me. “Classism” as a critique of my crtiques of them makes absolutely no sense, and is pure projection on your part. You cannot find an example of me making a classist insult against them.

            • “She was more qualified for executive office than Obama.”

              I think this was undersold… Back in 2007, I remember saying that as Governor of Alaska, Palin probably had more real life applicable experience than anyone else on the tickets. Which is funny, because The Democratic party made real hay saying that Hillary was the “Most Qualified Candidate Ever©” because she’d y’know… done stuff. It was facially absurd, not only were there more qualified candidates previously, but she hadn’t even had any experience outside the legislature. It was also absurd because Barack Obama won the Democratic nominee and then the Presidency when his only real prior experience was as the junior senator from Illinois, which made their newfound respect and requirement for “experience” kind of… odd.

        • valkygrrl

          That the media treated Palin unfairly is something I will concede,

          For the love of the gods, stop conceding things.

        • “I’m a little insulted that you think I don’t know that. Everyone knows that.”

          No, not everyone does know that, because there is a contingent of people who believe people like CNN/ABC contributor Ana Navarro. Similar to people who, for instance, might have changed their approval of certain political figures because of the support of their favorite rapper, you know… morons.

          “I agree with that, and so does McCain.”

          Then he should shut the hell up. Seriously. What’s the point in throwing Palin under the bus 12 years after the fact, while on his deathbed?

          • Chris

            Navarro’s tweet comes across as a joke to me. She’s referring to the interview where Palin said she had foreign policy experience due to Alaska’s proximity to Russia. Do you concede that that was a stupid thing to say and that the interview as a whole was infamously embarrassing for Palin?

            By “everyone,” I mean “everyone informed,” of course.

            The point of McCain’s statement was that he made a mistake in picking Palin. That is taking responsibility.

      • It doesn’t matter if he’s right or wrong about Palin. (He happens to be wrong, though.) Chris’s brain just doesn’t register this fact.

        It is like Bill Buckner defending his error in the 1986 Series by saying on his death bed, “Gedman should have blocked Stanley’s pitch, and then the runner would not have been on third at all. And Schiraldi! What a mistake to put that loser in to pitch the ninth! Besides, if Jim Rice had hit a lick the whole series, or if Clemens hadn’t been such a pussy and begged out of that game, we wouldn’t be having this conversation!”

        Members of teams don’t do this to each other if they are ethical, death bed or not.

        • And Kaine was a particularly lame VP candidate, whom Pence smoked in the debate. The fact is, VP candidates almost never make a difference any more. The last who did was probably LBJ.

          • Steve-O-in-NJ

            Not so sure about the last part, a lot of folks tried to use Dick Cheney against GWB by portraying him as a dark “power behind the throne” and the one really calling the shots. The accusation didn’t take with the mainstream, but it was out there for a while. A lot of folks also portrayed Dan Quayle as an imbecile, who couldn’t be trusted to be a heartbeat away from the presidency. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Hillary picked a lame VP, she didn’t want to share the spotlight with anyone and I am sure that few people wanted the post. I know I wouldn’t, even if I were a Democrat. She would not have tasked the VP with any policy initiatives, nor sought his thoughts on much of anything. I can quite easily picture a President Hillary calling a VP who dared voice an opinion on something on the carpet in the Oval Office and telling him “I give one warning and one warning only, so consider this yours. You’re here because the Constitution says someone has to be in the job you hold and to make sure ties in the Senate go my way. If things were a little more in my favor in that chamber you wouldn’t even be needed for that. I have this office covered, and if you ever offer an opinion on so much as the weather that I didn’t ask for, one of two things is going to happen. If it’s not too bad, a press release will go out saying you have decided to leave the administration to spend more time with your family. If it’s bad enough, it will announce your suicide. Now get back to your office without another word!”

            • luckyesteeyoreman

              Steve-O [as I chuckle sardonically], I intend to make it my personal quest to make that Hlary threat to Kaine in your comment above into TRUE HISTORY – juuuust like Palin’s gaze from her porch into Mother Russia. That is a jewel. It’s the plausible voice of the B*tch of Benghazi – spoken on the campaign trail shortly after Kaine’s confirmation at the 2016 coronation of the ticket – NO, make that, spoken before she announced Kaine as her running stooge. After all, she wouldn’t wait to say something like that until after her inauguration! Classic Cntonism! Thanks!

              I could even get some Russians to help me with this! [BWA-ha-ha!]

  5. Steve-O-in-NJ

    Mixed feelings here. John McCain is a son of privilege, any way you slice it. His grandfather was a genuine hero who sacrificed everything, even ultimately his own life (he died four days after the Japanese surrender) for Allied victory in WWII. His dad was a hero almost by happenstance, with a terrible record both at the Academy and in submarine school, but who turned out to be pretty damn good in actual submarine combat when it was needed, and finished a four-star admiral instead of getting pushed out a lieutenant commander on his twentieth anniversary as he probably would have been.

    Coming from a lineage like that it’s no wonder he got into the Academy himself, trying to follow in two huge sets of footsteps. Unfortunately, he brought a fair amount of the bad qualities of his dad and granddad as well as the good, didn’t apply himself, and graduated fifth from the bottom of his class, in and out of trouble with higher ranks. He is also damn lucky he wasn’t thrown out of flight school, being a partier and initially a sub-par flier who crashed twice and collided with power lines once. Eventually he did straighten up, and partisan attempts to put the disastrous USS Forrestal fire on him are nonsense.

    Yes, he was brutally tortured while in Vietnamese custody, something that no one should have to go through, but let it be noted that he did make a propaganda confession while in that custody- he later acknowledged that every man has his breaking point and he had reached his. He certainly displayed bravery and resilience, a la Louis Zamperini, who was also abused while a POW in WWII, but I wouldn’t put him on the same level as someone like Thomas Hudner or Bruce “Snake” Crandall.

    His poor handling of his first marriage is a definite demerit – he freely admits the fault was entirely his that he began to have affairs and then later asked his first wife for a divorce so he could marry a younger woman who came from money. I’m sorry, but, although I have never been married and probably will be single for the duration, the meaning of “in sickness and in health” and so on is very plain. McCain couldn’t keep that most important promise.

    He did all right in the Senate, but his designation as a “maverick” isn’t necessarily a good one – it just means that his party and the presidents he served under from that party couldn’t necessarily always count on his support. He had his eye on the White House, possibly because injuries from Vietnam made it impossible for him to achieve flag rank in the military like his father and grandfather, but he just didn’t have the chops or the connections to pull it off. I think he carried lingering bitterness against GWB for defeating his bid in 2000, although he himself took a cheap shot or two during the primaries by accusing Bush of lying and comparing him to Bill Clinton, and was met with overwhelming negative campaigning for it. Note that he was one of only two GOP senators to vote against the Bush tax cuts and also defended Jim Jefford’s defection from the party, which temporarily gave control of the Senate to the Democrats.

    All his status as a “maverick” or someone trying to bridge the gap didn’t get him over the hump when his turn finally came in 2008. Indeed, the media labeled him “John McSame” and other titles saying he would be the same as more of GWB. I do think his choice of Sarah Palin was a poor one – she was clearly not ready for prime time, but I think Joe Lieberman would also not have put him over the mark, as that ticket would have pushed conservatives away while not drawing in enough of the center. The question is academic, though, no Republican ticket would have had a chance after the economic crash of late 2008, where the party got the blame, somewhat unfairly.

    I think after 2008 he returned to the Senate a shadow of what he once was, of course there wasn’t much he could do until 2015, when he became Chairman of the Armed Services Committee. He spoke out against Trump becoming the nominee, but came off as a presumptuous I-know-better scold. He also spoke from a position of having lost already, and was not heeded. It should also be noted that Trump didn’t make the comment he made about McCain not being a hero in a vacuum or as a gratuitous cheap shot. Trump made it after McCain accused him of “firing up the crazies” in a rally in Phoenix. He withdrew his endorsement of Trump in October of 2016, when things were starting to change, and would ultimately see Ted Cruz, Mitch McConnell, and finally Paul Ryan all join the fight on Trump’s side.

    Perhaps he thought none of it mattered, because Hillary was a shoe-in anyway. Then Trump won, and instead of facing a former fellow senator who he could at least discuss things with in the White House, he faced someone he personally hated due to an insult thrown back at him for a milder insult he had initiated. In keeping with his earlier petulance and bitterness against GWB, he didn’t swallow his partially justifiable disgust and try to work with a president from his own party as best he could, and, when the chance came, he stabbed him in the back on the Obamacare repeal. He might cloak it in whatever rhetoric, but the bottom line is he did it as a “screw you” to the president, and not because he thought Obamacare, which he didn’t vote for, was a good thing. His bitterness at the president may have contributed to his decision not to step down, even after he knew he was facing the same battle that Ted Kennedy had ultimately lost.

    At this point he is probably looking back on his life and not too happy about it. He fell short of the heroism of his dad and granddad, he suffered grievously, he wasn’t really all that well liked by many of his colleagues, and, ultimately, he didn’t achieve the final triumph he would have if his life was written as a novel and which he might think that the slings and arrows he has suffered entitled him to. There isn’t going to be a happy ending to this play, and the curtain is about to come down, perhaps very soon. I think before this country celebrates its 242nd birthday the U.S. Army’s Caisson Platoon (which I was privileged to see up close last month) will be pulling a flag-draped casket to its final resting place, the U.S. Navy’s Honor Guard will fire their volleys as a bugler plays Taps, and the governor of Arizona will be naming a new Senator.

    It should be a dignified final scene, however, McCain, bitter that the scales of fate didn’t balance out in his favor, or didn’t balance out in his favor enough, is doing his best to make certain that this final scene is not a dignified one. It is not dignified to publicly regret the choice of a running mate ten years after the fact, and imply that she was the reason you lost. It is not dignified to publicly second-guess and try to place blame for failures on others, and it is not dignified to tell the President of the United States to stay away from your funeral so that you can make it your last big middle finger to him, and make certain that, at least for a week or so, mocking commentary against him that you started continues to echo in the media. Ultimately the crowd will disperse, the gravediggers will close up the grave, the talk will die down, and life will go on. The only thing that will be different is that, whenever your name comes up, as it will less and less as the years pass, you will be remembered for the fact that you gave in to being a jerk at the end of things instead of the legend (not entirely true) that you were a hero who sacrificed much for his country.

  6. “Much of McCain’s self-indulgence is directed at President Trump, whom he is now insulting with mad abandon, banning him, for example, from the Senator’s funeral in advance. This is vengeance, nothing more ennobling, for Candidate Trump’s outrageous disrespect toward McCain and other prisoners of war when Trump said that he did not regard them as heroes. McCain revenge is thus a display of the kind of non-ethics Donald Trump believes in: tit-for tat, mob ethics, hit ’em back harder.”

    To reiterate a point I make periodically when the rare topic of funerals arises:

    Though we give the soon-to-be-departed ample leeway in deciding the specifics and details of their own funerals, as they are, to a great extent, an individual’s last message they communicate to the world, funerals and burials are NOT for the dead.

    They are for the living. They communicate to our peers and to our descendants essential truths and values we notionally hold in common. They are an opportunity for us all to come together and recognize that despite all our efforts and groanings on this earth, we’re going to end up in exactly the same spot. Despite all our differences and oppositional actions against each other, we all are striving under the knowledge that we’re going to end up never the beneficiary of our own efforts and to that extent, the vast majority of people on this planet, ARE striving for the betterment of their community as an objective…even if their tactics are horrendously flawed.

    Avowed ENEMIES of each other still often pay respects to each other at their funerals. The great leveler of us all is being stuck in the ground when all is said and done.

    How we treat the dead reflects more on us that it does on the dead. If Trump were to go to McCain’s funeral and make only respectful comments regarding him, it can ONLY demonstrate respect bearing a greater ethical value in the positive than the spiteful jabs at his POW experience bore in the negative.

    McCain’s pre-emptive “non-invitation” to something that will, bluntly, no longer concern McCain is petty and spiteful.

    • valkygrrl

      If Trump were to go to McCain’s funeral and make only respectful comments regarding him,

      If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.

      Do you think Donald Trump capable of opening his mouth and not talking about himself?

    • Chris

      If Trump were to go to McCain’s funeral and make only respectful comments regarding him, it can ONLY demonstrate respect bearing a greater ethical value in the positive than the spiteful jabs at his POW experience bore in the negative.

      I can’t agree with this. It’s really easy to speak well of the recently deceased, which is why it is shocking when people violate this ethical standard; if Randa Jarrar had called Barbara Bush a racist while she was alive (which, she probably did) no one would have even noticed. Much more relevant is how we treat people when they are alive.

      • Didn’t read this.

        As long as you’re in a mood to walk back from hot headed red lines about leaving the blog, then you can also walk back from your comment about me being mealy-mouthed.

        Until then, don’t expect interaction from me.

  7. luckyesteeyoreman

    “McCain’s pre-emptive “non-invitation” to something that will, bluntly, no longer concern McCain is petty and spiteful.”

    I agree with that closing statement by Michael West. John McCain only diminishes himself, not TRUMP, by singling out a potential attendee of his funeral with an explicit, advance rejection of the attendee’s showing up. Frankly, I hope TRUMP will issue absolutely NO public statement regarding McCain when McCain dies, in addition to not attending the late senator’s funeral. No tweet, no White House statement, no statement by anyone on TRUMP’s behalf – NOTHING. That would be good practice for future taking of the Fifth, which I am now strongly doubting TRUMP is smart enough to do. If the President says anything at all in the wake of McCain’s death, I hope it will be focused like a laser beam on promoting a replacement in the Senate who will support the administration’s agenda. Yeah: I’m a “dreamer” of a different color.

    Sarah Palin is more a reason for McCain receiving as many votes as he did, than she is a reason for him not being elected President in 2008. Remember, the election of Barack Obama is the left’s history, thus the truth: every person who did not vote for Obama was a known or suspected racist (and, suspicion = knowledge = guilt). McCain should be asked whether he believes that not even one white woman who voted for his ticket was a racist – and then in follow-up, he should be asked whether he believes that more women who voted for his ticket voted that way because of himself than because of Palin. The right knows some truth, too. The left hates that.

  8. luckyesteeyoreman

    So…now is McCain going to request that Sarah Palin also not attend his funeral?

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