Now THIS Was Hypocrisy: John McCain’s National Cathedral Service

Ethics Alarms has spent a lot of time and space trying to clarifying the term hypocrisy, which like another term abused here by commenters, ad hominem attacks, is more often  misused than used properly. Hypocrisy is conduct that proves insincerity and  dishonesty (or, Hanlon Razor fans, stupidity), in which one’s conduct does not match one’s contemporaneously stated belief regarding what one’s conduct should be, under circumstances that suggest that the objective of the words was to deceive, by falsely claiming dedication to principles the speaker in fact does not possess or aspire to. Thanks to the orgy of hypocrisy that the Washington, D.C. funeral service for the late Senator John McCain this weekend deteriorated into and the equally hypocritical reporting on it, we now have a perfect example of hypocrisy for the ages.

Let’s start with the fact that a theme of the service was McCain’s alleged dedication to civility. The fact that the Senator openly planned his own funeral to settle scores and act on old grudges is the ultimate rebuttal of that claim. It was undeniably uncivil to dis-invite the President of the United States from what would otherwise be a display of unified and bi-partisan Washington community respect for a departed public servant. That was an insult, and intended as one. Insults are not civil. The retort to this is that the President was not civil to McCain, which is true. However, if the professional duty of civility is waived by another’s breach of it, then there is no such duty.

McCain’s own daughter launched the proceedings with her own uncivil rant, saying in part, “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 lived lives of comfort and privilege while he suffered and served.” Later, she added, “The America of John McCain has no need to be made great again, because America was always great.”

In addition to being uncivil—I have never been to a funeral that consisted even in small part of veiled insults and attacks on someone else, and Marc Anthony aside, have always understood that using a funeral service for this purpose is boorish and unethical—the attacks on the President, like Meagan McCain’s, were cowardly. The man (and the office) being savaged wasn’t present, and the crowd was united in its hostility to the target. George Washington’s 110 Rules of Civility cover that kind of conduct neatly:

89. Speak not evil of the absent, for it is unjust.

Leading up to the ceremony, the news media were equally dishonest in describing McCain. Dana Milbank of the Washington Post declared that McCain  “never forgot that political opponents are not his enemies, and that there are things more important than winning elections.” Funny, it seems pretty clear that McCain regarded Donald Trump as his enemy, treated him as such, and made certain that his admirers would carry out his vendetta. The description also was historical revisionism, at least through the news media’s own assessments. After fawning over the “maverick” when he was challenging George W. Bush, journalists turned on McCain and discovered his dark side when he ran against a man the entire journalism establishment had decided to elect President. The Pew Research Center found that between the Republican National Convention’s close on September 4, 2008 and the final presidential debate on October 15, McCain’s media coverage was more negative than positive by a 4-to-1 ratio, and pundits like Milbank were writing statements like this one, from New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, who said ,“Even some of McCain’s former aides are disturbed by the 73-year-old’s hostile, vindictive, sarcastic persona.”

When it was George W. Bush’s turn to speak—his family had enhanced its stock with McCain by barring the President from Barbara Bush’s funeral—one of his accolades was that McCain “detested the abuse of power”, though not, apparently, sufficiently to do the right and responsible thing and give up power when he was no longer well enough to discharge his duties. Is an octogenarian Senator with aggressive brain cancer still fit to serve in the U.S. Senate for almost a year as his condition deteriorates? To ask the question is to answer it, yet McCain insisted on keeping his power to the end, in part so he could continue undermining the President of the United States. Let’s say McCain “detested the abuse of power” by others.

That’s hypocrisy too.

At the close of the ceremony, the last speaker, Barack Obama, scaled the heights of pompous and disingenuous rhetoric as only he can, saying, “So much of our politics, our public life, our public discourse, seems small and mean and petty, trafficking in bombast and insults and phony controversies and manufactured outrage. It’s a politics that pretends to be brave and tough but in fact is borne in fear. John called on us to be bigger than. He called on us to be better than that.”

How were heads not exploding all over the cathedral? Obama pointed comments, like so many others before him, were small, petty and mean, and McCain had invited and sanctified the meanness by his own petty conduct in snubbing the President of the United States. Trump certainly leads the field in “bombast and insults,” but Obama’s own party and its journalist shills have been relentless purveyors of phony controversies and manufactured outrage.  Obama has never mastered self-awareness, but it’s still stunning that even he could condemn “a politics that pretends to be brave and tough but in fact is borne in fear” while participating in Trump-bashing in an inappropriate venue, while the target was conveniently absent.  John McCain clearly did NOT call on the Washington political community “to be better than that.”

If he had, both President Trump and Sarah Palin would have been present.

 


Addendum: For the record,  here are the tenets of George Washington’s 110 Rules of Civility (including the one quoted above) that these celebrants of civility in public life openly trampled, with the tacit approval of John McCain There are fourteen in all.

1. Every action done in company ought to be with some sign of respect to those that are present.

22. Show not yourself glad at the misfortune of another though he were your enemy.

36. Artificers and persons of low degree ought not to use many ceremonies to lords or others of high degree, but respect and highly honor then, and those of high degree ought to treat them with affability and courtesy, without arrogance.

41. Undertake not to teach your equal in the art himself professes; it savors of arrogancy.

42. Let your ceremonies in courtesy be proper to the dignity of his place with whom you converse, for it is absurd to act the same with a clown and a prince.

45. Being to advise or reprehend any one, consider whether it ought to be in public or in private, and presently or at some other time; in what terms to do it; and in reproving show no signs of cholor but do it with all sweetness and mildness.

47. Mock not nor jest at any thing of importance. Break no jests that are sharp, biting, and if you deliver any thing witty and pleasant, abstain from laughing thereat yourself.

48. Wherein you reprove another be unblameable yourself, for example is more prevalent than precepts.

49. Use no reproachful language against any one; neither curse nor revile.

58. Let your conversation be without malice or envy, for ’tis a sign of a tractable and commendable nature, and in all causes of passion permit reason to govern.

59. Never express anything unbecoming, nor act against the rules moral before your inferiors.

65. Speak not injurious words neither in jest nor earnest; scoff at none although they give occasion.

70. Reprehend not the imperfections of others, for that belongs to parents, masters and superiors.

89. Speak not evil of the absent, for it is unjust.

_______

Sources: Politico, National Review

75 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media

75 responses to “Now THIS Was Hypocrisy: John McCain’s National Cathedral Service

  1. “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 lived lives of comfort and privilege while he suffered and served.

    That pretty much describes Barack Obama.

    It was not the time and place to say it.

    “So much of our politics, our public life, our public discourse, seems small and mean and petty, trafficking in bombast and insults and phony controversies and manufactured outrage

    That describes the Russian “interference” controversy.

  2. adimagejim

    I honor Senator McCain’s service to the United States. I voted for him when considering the alternative to him. Our country would be worse off without people with a body of life’s work like John McCain.

    Despite all of the above, he seems to have been a gleeful grudge holder and more ego and legacy driven than most. Though I do not know this, for obvious reasons, I suspect he is giddy at the lack of civility directed at President Trump during his funeral.

    As with almost all people, his character evolved. In his case, I do not think it was for the better.

  3. Other Bill

    For the life of me, I can’t see any difference between the McCain multi-state funeral-o-rama and the White House Press Corps Dinner. Or is it “Corpse,” Professor Obama?

  4. Wayne

    The funeral was really a nest of vipers.

  5. Andrew Wakeling

    I am struggling to understand how talking ill of the now dead John McCain is not at least equally impolite or uncivil as Trump’s original insults of McCain and McCain’s subsequent retaliation.

    Is it better to show false respect to those we honestly despise, or honestly speak our minds and breach the conventions of civility? Keeping your head down is a good option when available.

    (Moliere’s ‘Misanthrope’ is wonderful on all of this.)

    • Biff Harrison

      Meh…the author is not a holder of political office. And yes, they do fall under a different (higher) standard of civility.

    • Chris Marschner_

      Andrew,
      The entire post is on the topic of hypocrisy not civility.

      Let me address your statement about speaking ill of the departed. It is not speaking ill of someone when dealing with historical truths to illustrate the original point if the thesis. If the truth is off limits there could be no thesis on hypocrisy. Why should anyone be virtually deified because of one portion of their life was honorable when other behaviors of that individual call into question the manufactured public persona.

      McCain did the honorable thing by not using his familial relationship to high ranking Naval officers for propaganda purposes. That does not make him a hero but it does make him honorable. Conversely, his history as a husband that dumped his first wife because of her crippling injuries from a car accident would be a impediment to his political aspirations suggests less than honorable behavior. If we are keeping score, that offsets any honor earned during Viet Nam.

      Admiral Denton spent more time in the Hanoi Hilton than McCain did, was elected Senator of Alabama and walked his talk. When he passed we did not have a 5 day funeral extravaganza. When Denton was forced to be filmed for propaganda he blinked in morse code TORTURE.

      We have diluted the term hero so much no one knows a true hero when they see one. More importantly, true heros show humility, shun the limelight or term hero, and do not find ways to harm others who say they are not heros

      • Andrew Wakeling

        Not how I read it Chris : this is about both hypocrisy and civility. Jack writes : “.. a theme of the service was Mc Cain’s alleged dedication to civility.” And then Jack maintains it was “undeniably uncivil to disinvite the President”. Thus McCain was being inconsistent and cops the accusation of hypocrisy..

        Well maybe. I think McCain deserves some credit for being consistent with his hatred. Think how hypocritical it could have been for McCain to put out an insincere treacly welcome to Trump, and perhaps suggest he sit next to the Khan family so they could all kiss and make up. I guess that could really have tortured the President ( whether he attended or not) and might have made for a much more effective (and unethical) revenge.

        • Glenn Logan

          Nobody deserves credit for hatred, no matter how sincere or consistent. It is a stain upon their character and legacy. Hatred of another is abject evil, even though the object of that hate may return it with interest.

          For McCain to have welcomed Trump would indeed have been insincere, but that’s only because he hated him. Had he merely treated him as a political foe, as is the norm for most politicians, he could have welcomed Trump to his funeral not as a friend, but as a human being. McCain set up a situation where he could not be seen as statesmanlike in death as he was often seen in life, and it was allowing himself to hate Trump that provided the context and vehicle for his gracelessness.

          There is no proper defense of hate, and the wages of hate are plainly seen in this example. Jack’s take-down is perhaps more than I would allow, but it is just, and politic, if not the epitome of traditional propriety. But it is often the job of an ethicist to walk where the angels fear to tread.

          May John McCain rest in peace, but I can honestly hope that he was ultimately shamed by the manner of his internment, and his unfortunate last days. I prefer to blame his disease for this, and not the man. Even if I am wrong, it allows me easy forgiveness to a man I fervently hope deserves it.

          • Andrew Wakeling

            I think Jack holds as I do that ethics relates to actions and intended actions not to attitudes. Hating someone or something cannot in itself be judged as ethical or unethical. It is what one does or tries to do that matters.

            But the great thing about ‘ethics’ is we don’t have to agree.

            • Glenn Logan

              Hatred is inherently unethical, in my view, because it is the archetypal failure to follow the Golden Rule.

              In the instant case, I think it’s beyond dispute that McCain’s hatred for Trump led to the debacle Jack wrote about. Absent the hate, it is possible, and in fact, likely that traditional wisdom about not launching attacks at funerals would’ve prevailed.

              • Not to quibble, Glenn, but is this true:

                “Hatred is inherently unethical, in my view, because it is the archetypal failure to follow the Golden Rule.”

                That is a blank statement. Isn’t there some hatred that is, in fact, ethical and abides the Golden Rule? How about hating racism or Nazism? Hating Jim Crow Laws? Genocide? Unprovoked and unjustifiable invasion by one country of another country’s sovereignty? Terrorist attacks on unarmed and uninvolved civilians and civilian targets? How about injustice (which I realize is a nebulous term)?

                That is something that keeps me up at night (well, not really – my neighbor’s barking dog does that) wondering if “hate” is actually valid and acceptable.

                jvb

                • Hate is NEVER appropriate, regardless of the circumstances.

                  But not for the reason you think. Hate is an emotion that destroys the hater. Humans were not created to hold that sort of acid, and it eventually eats them.

                  • Andrew Wakeling

                    ‘Hate’ for me is just at the extreme end of the ‘like – dislike’, and ‘admire – despise’ spectra, and I don’t intend to abandon my capacity to do it (hate that is.). I suspect it means more than that for you. As so often, we have a problem of semantics. I am not conscious of ‘hating’ anything or anyone at present, although liqourice and Donald Trump might come close. As I’ve said, it matters (for me and my ‘ethics’) what you do, not what you feel. For the avoidance of doubt, I have absolutely no interest in firebombing the liquorice counter or assassinating DT.

                  • If hate is so counterproductive, then would not this trait have disappeared due to natural selection?

  6. Rebecca Bowen

    Where is your parallel, though much longer since there are thousands of violations, treatise of trump’s violations of the same 110 Washington rules of civility? You know, in order to be Fair and Balanced, for us To Decide?

    • There is nothing uncivil about discussing facts on an ethics blog. The date of death of the subject is completely irrelevant. This was, I guess, the theory McCain was evoking when he wrote that his knowledge of his impending demise let him speak “more freely.” He thought that since he’s be dead, there would be no consequences of his nasty behavior….because of people like you.

      But thanks for proving my point: I wrote,

      ” The retort to this is that the President was not civil to McCain, which is true. However, if the professional duty of civility is waived by another’s breach of it, then there is no such duty.” and you still wrote this rationalized comment anyway. Sweet!

    • dragin_dragon

      Jack is trying to deal with ethics and ethical behavior, not be Fox news. Fair and balanced does not apply and, thus, is irrelevant.

    • I think we all know of Trump’s lack of ethics and lack of civility. What’s more insidious is the deifying and whitewashing of blatantly uncivil behavior on display surrounding the passing of McCain. The media establishment has done all it can to deceive the public into believing that the rhetoric and conduct against Trump IS good and admirable.

      This is more dangerous to the Republic than what we already know about Trump. So of course Jack will call this conduct out more often and more loudly.

      Like the voice of one crying out in the wilderness.

      • Oooh. I like it! Another unintended Bible reference! Isaiah 40:1-11.

        A voice of one calling:
        “In the wilderness prepare
        the way for the Lord;
        make straight in the desert
        a highway for our God.
        Every valley shall be raised up,
        every mountain and hill made low;
        the rough ground shall become level,
        the rugged places a plain.
        And the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
        and all people will see it together.
        For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
        ______________

        Michael West writes: The media establishment has done all it can to deceive the public into believing that the rhetoric and conduct against Trump IS good and admirable.

        This is more dangerous to the Republic than what we already know about Trump. So of course Jack will call this conduct out more often and more loudly.

        It would be more accurate to say that the Postwar Two narrative, which the US set in motion, had established that it should have been seen as necessary to oppose European fascism, and not to go along with it. To have ‘risked everything’ (like the corporate moral voice of Nike tells us) to do any little thing, and any large major things, to have stopped the ontological evilness from gaining a foothold.

        This was been taught to the children and shown to be proper ethical and moral conduct. It is part-and-parcel of Americanism.

        What this has given rise to is, essentially, the former poster here by the name of Chris. Chris embodies this teaching. It is literally a part of his body in the sense that he reacts viscerally, immediately, to any manifestation that is understood to be ‘fascistic’.

        And what is ‘fascistic’ is everything that is not part of ‘the tenets of the American civil religion’. An entire view-structure that has been perfected in the Postwar.

        It was part of the narrative that has been spread throughout the West that no one should have accepted the democratic movement that produced National Socialism (and other fascistic forms). If democracy chose that, then democracy was wrong. And it would have been good and proper to use any and all non-democratic actions to crush it before it grew.

        Were you home-schooled Michael? 😉

  7. Phil Allen

    My favorite McCain story–or legend–is that he destroyed three aircraft he piloted. That mess on the carrier deck was just collateral damage ..

  8. Trump wasn’t McCain’s political enemy. The Trump-McCain feud is personal. Between his attacks on the Khan family and on McCain himself, I’m surprised more veterans don’t hate him.

    • Point? The fake accolades claim that McCain didn’t treat political foes as personal foes. Of course Trump was a political enemy: he makes no distinction between personal attacks and substantive political attacks. His attacks on Cruz and Bush were personal too…and also political, an effort to undercut political foes.

    • Chris Marschner_

      Chudy
      The Kahn family attacked Trump at the DNC convention. They were placed there front and center by the DNC as a human shield. As a family that lost a son in service to the country they were seen as untouchable.

      What most do not know is that Mr. Khan who is a lawyer who focused on immigration of citizens from Afghanistan. We forget we were dealing with blue on green attacks in the runup to the conventions. His righteously indignant tirade against Trump was a function of his desire to make it easier for persons from Muslim countries to get green cards. It was Kahn that held up his pocket Constitution and stated denying entry based on religion was unconstitutional. It was Kahn that used disparaging comments about the Republican nominee.

      If I recall correctly Trump was fairly subdued.
      He did not demean or ridicule Mr. Kahn. It was the press jumped on his remark about Mrs. Kahn who simply stood behind her husband. It was the press that characterized his comment as an attack on a gold star family. Saying Trump attacked the Kahn family is a fiction that took hold. Saying Trump attacked A GoldStar family is akin to saying the US attacked Japan in 1941.

      Trump could have let Kahn’s statements go and simply ignored them. If he had done so, people that buy into this media created fiction would say Kahn spoke truth to power because Trump offered no defense. I am getting tired of this revisionist history.

    • Glenn Logan

      I’m a veteran and I don’t hate him. What I hate is using veterans as political props by either party, then holding them up as beyond reproach when it’s convenient. Veterans are people, not some kind of group identification that can be used to homogenize their views. All people have flaws, and fighting for your country, while admittedly honorable, is just a job you get paid to do. You know the risks going in.

      The Khan family controversy was no excuse for hatred – that’s media-driven bullshit. Anyone may express disapproval or disdain without allowing it to fester into hatred, if that’s what happened.

  9. Just got this reasoned, deft, substantive rebuttal to this post; “Go fuck yourself.”

    At least the fleeing “resistance” members now boycotting Ethics Alarms because the truth hurts too much tried to justify their knee-jerk defense of the anti-Trump double standards with actual arguments, however lame and unpersuasive.

  10. Mike Ryder

    Donald Trump is not George Washington. Our current narcissist in chief is the source of our current incivilty. Quit making cheap excuses for his behavior by accusing others of hypocrisy. The guy is a jerk. His deserves to be treated like a jerk and held accountable for his crappy behavior. There is an old saying that applies here: Don’t dish it out if you cant take it. As i far as i am concerned you are as big a wuss as he is. You want to worship at that dirt bags feet and hang on his every word do it your own time and quit wating ours

    • This is stunning ethics ignorance, Mike. Nobody makes anyone else be uncivil, just as individual B’s unethical conduct doesn’t make A’s unethical conduct excusable. I have lost patience completely with this intellectually bankrupt argument. Trump wasn’t at the service. You cannot blame him for the bad conduct of those who were.

      That “old saying” is moronic, unethical, and excuses unethical conduct. In fact, your entire comment reads like something Trump would say. The post was not about Trump. Try to keep up.

      Saying that I “worship at Trump’s feet” is stupid, untrue, and obnoxious. You just got your first and only mulligan, because I ban commenters who insult me like that, or who are so stupid that they believe it. If your next comment isn’t better, you won’t get a second chance.

    • dragin_dragon

      There’s another ‘old saying’…”Give as good as you get”. Also, in my mind unethical and indicative of ignorance.

    • Chris Marschner_

      Mike

      If you think Jack or others here worship at Trumps feet you must have just arrived here.

      Personally, I see narcissim among virtually all political figures. In fact, it must be a prerequisite to run for office because only a narcissist would want to run around promising all sorts of things to all sorts of people stuff that other people pay for unless it is a desire to be loved for the purpose of accumulating power.

    • Mike Ryder

      Ok you pointed out that humans are hypocrites. No kidding. Welcome to the human condition. My point is simple, if you want civility, then start with it. If you going to defend a hypocrite than expect to be accused of hiprocrisy. Ban me if you want. I could care less. Just surprise me and do it politely.

      • Glenn Logan

        Ban me if you want. I could care less. Just surprise me and do it politely.

        Do you think this comment deserves a polite response? I don’t. You are on someone else’s blog, a place to which everyone is invited to comment at least once. Having seen your one comment, I really don’t personally care to see anymore. It was spiteful, vindictive talking points, and you’ve lowered the collective IQ of this place by dropping them here.

        Whether Trump is a jerk or not has nothing to do with the ethical analysis of the matter. The fact you obviously can’t see that probably disqualifies you from commenting here, because it suggests you have nothing helpful or incisive to add. Perhaps, instead of requesting a ban, you should just ban yourself for walking in and shitting on another man’s blog. That would be more ethical of you than I expect, so surprise me.

      • A childish, desperate, and insulting reply. No, defending a hypocrite is not hypocrisy—anyone who is unfairly and dishonestly attacked deserves a defense, including hypocrites, and worse— and I expect all sorts of illogical accusations. However, I expect them to acknowledge that I am the host here, and do not have to suffer gratuitous nastiness.

        You’re banned. Glad you don’t care.

      • You should be banned for the “I could care less” comment. That statement causes me many hours of grief. It is a pet peeve of mine. The statement is: “i COULDN’T care less”. “COULDN’T”, meaning that there is absolutely no degree of care remaining to which the carelesser can descend. He/She has reached the bottom of the careless pit and can go no further. “Could care less” means there remains some smidgen of care. Get it right! Bad boy. Bad, bad boy!

        jvb

        • Oh, I’ll defend to the death “I could care less.” It’s an idiom, and a weird one, but it’s clear. It’s just an ironic way of saying the more literal statement. It means, “As if I could care less about that!” and has just become truncated over time.

          No, I’m banning Mike because he’s an asshole.

    • Mike Ryder wrote: Donald Trump is not George Washington. Our current narcissist in chief is the source of our current incivility. Quit making cheap excuses for his behavior by accusing others of hypocrisy. The guy is a jerk. His deserves to be treated like a jerk and held accountable for his crappy behavior. There is an old saying that applies here: Don’t dish it out if you cant take it. As i far as I am concerned you are as big a wuss as he is. You want to worship at that dirt bags feet and hang on his every word do it your own time and quit wasting ours.

      There is more to be gained, I think, in seeing Donald Trump as a *symptom*. A symptom is a condition that arises in a given body which, if analyzed correctly and by someone with experience, reveals the *illness*. And if one understands the illness, or at least identifies it, one can then begin to think in terms of a ‘cure’. Doesn’t this make sense?

      But if you can’t — if all you see is surface and if the surface appearances are mis-read — then you will have no effect in coming to a cure.

      I suggest and will continue to suggest that America is now in a state similar to that of Gloucester. It has had its eyes poked out but has not yet got the point where it can say I stumbled when I saw.

      Donald Trump even looks like an unwelcome eruption on the skin! Raw, ugly, loud-mouthed on one hand. But then he gives a voice to those constituents who have been mis-formed and deformed by the policies of the nation itself. The issue is in being able to identify what those are.

      The metaphor of internal realization (Gloucester) that begins only to *see* when the outer superficial eyes no longer work, is apt.

      Trump, for those on the Alternative Right — the emerging Right that is deeply critical of what so-called Conservatives have allowed to occur and with which these Conservatives are deeply complicit — has given us an opening. And this will not be shut down. But Trump is no savior! He is deeply complicit himself. But as symptom he cannot seem to avoid giving a voice to those of his constituents who are the victims of American Conservative’s horrid choices.

      How we will navigate a post-Trump landscape, now that remains to be seen. It is all pretty interesting though, this you have to admit!

  11. Jacques Gerbet

    Where does one begin ? Trump is an insult to so many people ,on so many levels . You’re talking about hypocrisy . Take it to a higher standard . Ever read the philosophical argument in respect to “ degrees of rightness “ ? Obviously not.

    • Now there’s an incoherent comment! 1) The post is not about Trump. 2) He was elected President, and that’s all it takes to ensure him a base level of deference, respect, and the benefit of the doubt. 3) You don’t know what I’ve read, jerk. 4)Hypocrisy is not relative, and the conduct of one person does not either enhance or excuse the conduct of another.

      • Sue Dunim

        The post was not about Trump????

        Ok, if you say so. None of the remarks made at the funeral had anything to do with him. If you say so.

        Whatever. At a time when the POTUS is castigating a controversial and flawed AG for not suppressing prosecutions for political advantage, but doing his job instead, there are bigger fish to fry.

        There’s a phrase that’s appropriate. Straining at gnats while swallowing camels. In defence of that, if we only concentrate on the camels, we do get too many gnats, so straining at them is not only not a bad thing per se, but an essential service. Pretending that the camels don’t exist, or are not appropriate matters for comment, not so much. It doesn’t enhance credibility. But your blog, your choice of topics.

        • I expect better than another “But Trump!” deflection from you. Disrespecting the Office of the President of the United States is not a gnat. Sanctifying incivility, vendettas and division is not a gnat, destroying political comity while claiming to support it is no either, not on an ethics blog. Only the Trump-deranged, and you have long revealed yourself as afflicted, think that bringing down an elected President and undermining his office and authority is a valid and ethical objective.

          The gnat/camel line doesn’t deserve respect because it is old. It’s simply an articulation of rationalization #22, “It’s not the worst thing,” to excuse unethical conduct.

          I think you know that, too.

          The post was not about Trump, but about the despicable treatment of Trump and the use of hypocritical means to do so. I know you understand the difference.

        • Sue refers to: [What I here turn into a question]: “What is the meaning of the phrase straining at a gnat?”

          I found the following commentary, and with all this talk of ‘hypocrisy’ and such, it seems apropos.

          Quibbling over minor things (theatrics) which the larger issues cannot be seen (will not be seen: a willful act).
          ___________________

          “The phrase comes from the words of Jesus, as recorded in the Gospel of Matthew. In Matthew 23, Jesus launches into what could best be described as a tirade against the religious leaders of his day. He doesn’t hold back in his indictment of them, and calls them names like “hypocrite,” “family of snakes” (technically, he calls them a “brood of vipers,” but that’s the meaning), and “whitewashed sepulchers.”

          “In verse 23, he says: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.”

          “What does he mean by this? He’s saying that they’ve picked out the smallest and least commandments to focus on, and take pride in doing those, while completely ignoring the most important matters, like justice.

          “He follows this up in verse 24 with the phrase you asked about: “Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.”

          “Jesus is indulging in a bit of hyperbole here. He’s imagining someone who is about to take a drink of water from a cup, notices that there’s a small bug in it, strains the bug out, and then drinks the water, never noticing that there was a camel floating in the cup.”

      • Your post must be trending somewhere. I haven’t seen a swarm of non-thought out responses like this from knee jerks in a while.

        I mean, shot gun method is good. Out of the dozen or so drive by outrage posts, at least one should turn up an introspective and thinking individual.

    • Glenn Logan

      One begins with first principles; you don’t allow your funeral to become a vehicle for hatred, no matter how well-deserved.

      I’ll leave the ethical analysis to Jack, which he’s done well, but this was a triumph of personal hatred over the traditional values that John McCain has so often publicly embraced. I can only imagine he regrets what happened here from wherever he is now. I pray he didn’t take his hatred with him, and prefer to think his disease drove McCain’s last desires.

      • Excuse me, I seem to be in an exegetical mood today! (And I have not changed coffee brand nor anything else). I have been working off the *hypocrisy* and *nest of vipers* references, all so biblical …

        Glenn Logan writes: I pray he didn’t take his hatred with him, and prefer to think his disease drove McCain’s last desires.

        Let us suppose that we do *believe in* an afterworld. Consciousness of the soul after it is not in the body. And let us then ask your hope: ‘I pray he didn’t take his hatred with him’. But he very clearly did. Experience teaches that when we are bound up in illusion or hatred & anger that one has to live through whole processes of recovery from it …

        He acted out of it right up to the end, and he programmed a continuation of it after the end. And people — the quick and living — have taken up what he began, deliberately.

        One of the meanings of even conceiving of an afterworld — either of punishment or of reward — is to increase the understanding that our actions have consequences, and the consequences are absolute.

        I find it an interesting question: political affiliation in the afterworld! You know, the church militant concept of the continuity of earth-bound members of the Body of Christ operating in continuity with those who have passed on to the celestial realms…

        What if Heaven turned out to be filled with red white and blue bunting … and the chorus of the angels all American patriotic horns? (Good reason to take up Buddhism!)

        [ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jy6AOGRsR80 ]

        • A stunningly well-done video I should add.

          The line:

          In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
          With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me.
          As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,
          While God is marching on.

          …caught my attention: The transference of the sacrificial act that brings salvation to man to … terrestrial adventures said to be carried out to advance *freedom*.

          We are *transformed* therefor into agents of Americanism!

          I wish I’d have been taught this earlier on! In my case so much time has been lost! 😉

        • Glenn Logan

          He acted out of it right up to the end, and he programmed a continuation of it after the end. And people — the quick and living — have taken up what he began, deliberately.

          Ah, but metaphysical me thinks that maybe that was his disease talking, and once the soul is freed from the body (and the disease), I like to think he was remorseful about how he acted. Alas, that happened too late for him to act upon the revelation, but such is the imperfections of mortality. 🙂

          • You are obviously making very clever and penetrating references to ‘our disease’ in our fallen state, and I agree. I did catch the reference to 1 Corinthians too: “For now we see in a mirror dimly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”

            • Glenn Logan

              Well, not just in our fallen state, but in our state of temporal existence. For example, my mother was the victim of a stroke, but she took months to finally perish. We could never know for sure if there was consciousness trapped in her damaged body, or if it had fled due to the brain damage.

              McCain’s body was under assault from cancer, and the nature of the disease (a brain tumor which doubtless existed well before diagnosis) had to impact his cognitive processes to some degree, perhaps more than anyone, even he, knew. Really, it is that to which I refer. Freed from his diseased body by death, I like to think he regretted his actions while in it.

              • Well, not just in our fallen state, but in our state of temporal existence.

                It amounts to the same thing.

                But to understand my perspectives you’d have to sign up for my Ten Week Email Metaphysics Course®.

                It is changing lives!

                Jokes aside, I understand your hopeful position. I rather doubt it though. John McCain is one of the breed of so-called conservative sell-outs. I have the sense that this breed is beginning to come into its last days. (I might be very very wrong of course!)

                An entire (so-called) Conservative Establishment is not very happy with Donald Trump for bringing so much chaos into American politics. My hope is that it all represents a change for the better (a radical shift from hyper-liberalism) but I also tend to believe that things can’t get better till they go through getting worse.

                Have you published any visionary insights as to *what the future holds*? I’f be interested in hearing your view.

                What will happen in the next 7 years?

  12. Vitaeus

    I almost gave up on this blog during the election, since I had almost the complete opposite view of Hilary due to my personal history of jobs with security clearances. That you had the judgement to reverse on that even considering Trump’s behavior is a rarity in this day and age. Stay the course, hope we get some better folks to be the loyal opposition.

  13. Future drive by commenters:

    Before commenting, ponder on THIS key statement from the post:

    “if the professional duty of civility is waived by another’s breach of it, then there is no such duty.”

    And expounded on in the comments:

    Nobody makes anyone else be uncivil, just as individual B’s unethical conduct doesn’t make A’s unethical conduct excusable.

  14. I find your analysis to be correct. The McCain who is touted as being a great hero of compromise surely was not so. His accolades of being heroic stem fro our misunderstanding the concept of heroism, Yes he survived the POW camp but survival is not heroism, 3000 died in the towers, discounting the first responders, they were all victims, not heroes. In parkland, there was by my count only one hero- the young rotc student who stood between the shooter and his fellow students holding the door open for them. While his name is now lost to history we are forced to recall the name of a vociferous survivor.
    The funerals of both MCCain and Franklin were farcical examples of uncouthness, lack of diginity

  15. The *McCain Rehearsals*, as they should be called, provide an opening through which to see — I am afraid to say this — ‘the darkened heart of America’. It is now literally at the level of Amazing. And it will not end well.

    Jack’s definition is important to accent: “Hypocrisy is conduct that proves insincerity and dishonesty (or, Hanlon Razor fans, stupidity), in which one’s conduct does not match one’s contemporaneously stated belief regarding what one’s conduct should be, under circumstances that suggest that the objective of the words was to deceive, by falsely claiming dedication to principles the speaker in fact does not possess or aspire to.

    As with nearly all things, all twisted and confusing things, that are now surfacing in our present, John McCain’s actions, and the theatre surrounding his death, require careful and penetrating analysis. However, and once again, to *see* him and to see these things, requires a person capable of *seeing*. Again, it all has to be interpreted and this means it requires interpretation. And no one writing on this blog is really capable of that (this has become my main observation and main point) because, to one degree or another, each one is complicit in *the lies that understructure the present*.

    McCain represents, in truth, the criminality of the late United States. A nation that invaded and destroyed a sovereign nation that was framed, through lies, to be a *noble effort* yet which was, in fact, a money-making machine for the war-industry. (Those are the two poles of the issue and this does not deny some in-between zone). The typical American, deeply sunk in hypocrisy of the first order, and of the sort that Dante would have placed in one of the Rings of Hell, is capable of understanding the damage and destruction this war wrought in his own social body (the social conflicts of the era, the damage to veterans, et cetera) but can hardly put his focus on the millions of persons killed, and the on-going social damage inflicted. And why is this? What can explain this ‘average citizen’ sold-out to interests that have no concern whatever for him and his and who participates in an Absurd Theatre of defense.

    Let’s begin to examine the ‘bars of the conceptual cage’ in which this person is held captive. That would be a true examination of hypocrisy.

    To come to terms with this is a ‘bridge-too-far’. Yet it is *this* — the conduct of war as separated from any sort of genuine righteousness — that is one factor that is now destroying America. The area where the damage resides is an inner, psychological zone within persons. It becomes an ailment deep within the social body. It requires *psychiatrics* but there is no qualified person who can carry it out! At a Biblical level it might have been termed ‘the sins of the fathers’; in Hinduism ‘karma’; and from a historiological perspective — as with Gibbons — the traceable course of events, seen usually in retrospect, that led to a destructive end and the fall of a nation.

    Andrew McCain was said to have employed this biblical verse which, in my view, reveals a profound hypocrisy that would move one from a minor Ring of Hell to a more severe and painful one:

    “For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time of my departure is near. I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness awaits me, which the Lord, the just judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me, but to all who have longed for his appearing.”

    — 2 Timothy

    Have you ‘completed well’? And what exactly was ‘the race’? And how have you ‘kept the faith’ you hypocrite fake! Righteousness does not (or I suggest would seem not) to ‘await you’, but rather — in the most merciful of circumstances — a purgation of your soul from the evil that has infected it! And which your nation shares and cannot face.

    These *stages of decadence* when a culture, unmoored from any sound base and ethical foundation, invests more and more energy in *upholding appearances*, operates like the ‘law of diminishing returns’: the more you put into it, trying to maintain it, the more the hypocrisy and the evil becomes only more apparent, and unavoidable.

    The analysis I provide here, I have come to understand, represents what I would suggest is the proper ‘method’ of conservative analysis of the American present. It challenges the (::: barf :::) lying American conservative false-narrative but it is not devoid of the possibilities of hope. That means that anyone who desires to sever their links to evil complicity can begin, if they want, to tell the truth.

    • Meghan McCain’s statement, released shortly after her father’s death:

      “I take comfort in this: John McCain, hero of the republic and to his little girl, wakes today to something more glorious than anything on earth. Today the warrior enters his true and eternal life, greeted by those who have gone before him, rising to meet the Author of All Things.”

      This so much reveals the false-narrative, the false-optimism, that underpins ‘the tenets of the American civil religion’.

      A little girl’s sentiments, or her mystification, have no place at all in a proper philosophical and religious perspective. Little Girls do not decide important things.

      A more proper — a more honest — perspective might be seen in what Cardinal Newman said about the soul in relation to purgatory: The soul, if freed enough through proper conduct in this world, would in honesty recognize its need to purgation and would submit to it. It would choose it, even though painful, because the soul when its blinders have been removed (the physical shell of *appearance*) can be nothing but honest.

      What does this bizarre statement mean? That American politics has come to influence the metaphysics of salvation? That there is some sort of saintly pantheon of Statesmen Elders who rise into heaven after years of service in America’s earthly plane?

      There is more than self-deception here, these are signs of social psychosis!

    • JP

      Best quote from the article:

      What’s all this about? It’s certainly not about civility, or decency, or bipartisanship. As David French wrote: “The contrast between the outpouring of love for McCain in his last days and the astonishing vitriol directed at him in 2000 and 2008 demonstrates once again how disingenuous, low, and cheap American politics were well before Trump came on the scene.”

      And at this point, I suspect the voters are onto the game.

  16. Great job looking at the funeral service from an ethical point of view. Interesting line up of replies too. I might write something on it later but for now I think most everything has been covered.

  17. Willem Reese

    OK, since you mentioned Marc Anthony and I’m too lazy at the moment to think up an erudite comment, I’ll just offer the actual quote I imagine you were considering:
    The evil that men do lives after them;
    The good is oft interred with their bones.

  18. I imagine that Trump was amused that, for someone not invited to attend McCain’s services, there were a ton of people taking pot-shots at him. That must say something more about the pot-shooters than about him, no? Excluding his running mate was a terrible, cheap shot at Palin.

    On a divergent but related tangent, there were two high profile funerals last week. A week long service for Sen. McCain and who knows how long service for Aretha Franklin. Philistine that I am, I refused to watch both of them. I figured both would be filled with politics and politicking, so I was not interested. Besides, I had to walk the dog, so I was busy . . .

    I did notice one common theme, though. These ceremonies turned into political diatribes. I was expecting that from Sen. McCain’s services. He was a senator and a war hero. And he hated Trump to the end. I imagine his last words were “Rosebud! Trump! Rosebud!” It made sense to talk about his service to the nation,his patriotism, his love of country, his numerous runs for president.

    Yet, I was surprised at how democratically political things became over at Aretha’s service qua get out the vote rally (and yes, I disagree with Jack – the Good Bishop Charles H. Ellis III did grope Ariana Grande. Check out her reaction to his embrace. The Good Bishop should be ashamed of himself).

    Who spoke at the ceremony? Bill Clinton. Al Sharpton, Former A.G. Eric Holder. Pres. Obama. Minister Farrakhan. To a person, they all extolled her voice, her singing, her phrasing, and influence she had on society (all true, all appropriate). Yet, then they merged into traditional talking points with thinly veiled gibes at Trump and “making the world a better place” mantras at the voter booths.

    Having that list of speakers made it look like a DNC campaign rally for Get Out the Vote. I wonder if they had voter registration booths at the doors of the church. Probably a few feet from the doors, what with that separation of church and state thing.

    I asked one Facebook friend who shared the video funeral feed on my wall (why, I have no idea) why such events always become campaign rallies? I stated that it was opportunistic and unseemly, even stating that I dreaded the coverage of McCain’s funerals for the same reason. He unfriended me but insulted Rush before doing so. That I cannot abide. Get the gone, nave! Good riddance.

    jvb

  19. I cannot pay any respects to a man (John McCain) who so diligently plotted to do that which made a mockery of whatever respectability and respect for him that he had not already destroyed.

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