I remember when I was six, JFK’s funeral after the tragedy of Dallas. Certain scenes were unforgettable; the casket on the caisson, the horse, with boots reversed, and John-John’s salute. I remember the week of absolute sorrow in our house. With Reagan, my memories have the sharpness of time. I remember a woman leaving the viewing in California, who paused, weeping, and held the hand of Reagan’s statue in front of the library. I remember the viewing in Washington D.C. when a Native American in full native dress, stood and saluted the casket. And during the burial, I remember a very old Mickey Rooney helped to the casket, standing firm, saluting him as well.
And then there’s John McCain’s funeral.
In his last few months, with the certainty of death looming, McCain spent it with other than family thoughts. Along with turning his back on the people who trusted in him by dragging a hopelessly bad Obamacare program along by voting against its repeal, he spent it planning his own funeral. If Queen Elizabeth has such a week, the British will consider it extravagant. Three viewings (one more than Reagan), parades, and a memorial that turned into a full-throated screed by his daughter worthy of Honey Boo-Boo.
The Press, eager to participate, rode to the rescue of dignity by shaming Trump for flying the flag at half-mast only as long as legality dictated. Trump, to his credit, quietly gave in. 24/7 news coverage of McCain was introduced, baffling when you consider he was called “a threat to democracy” during his campaign run.
They cheered his not inviting Trump, with good reason. However, the people he left off were baffling. Why not invite Sarah Palin? Sarah was a good trooper, did everything she could to push McCain to the winners circle, and was loyal even to McCain’s last breath. Far more loyal than McCain’s people, who blamed her for the loss. The former Alaska governor, campaign manager Steve Schmidt, adviser Nicolle Wallace and strategist John Weaver were all left off the guest lists for McCain’s memorial services. The reason is obvious; he blamed them for losing the election, never believing it was his fault.
As the week went on, some of the press caught on that they were being had, and they’re short-sightedness at gigging Trump made them patsies. Articles quickly buried over the excessiveness started showing up. Finally at his memorial, McCain’s daughter let loose with partisan shots over Trump, while Jarred and Ivanka sat patiently and took it.
Trump, no doubt, deserved his ire, especially because Trump did things he failed at. Trump is president. Trump received a higher percentage of minority vote than any other Republican, blowing up the establishment GOP mantra about embracing illegals. Even more, Trump humiliated him, and McCain is a man who never forgets his humiliations. His focus for the last months of his life, far from the loving arms of his family, was to personally stick it to Trump, and thereby stick it to the people who believed in him and gave him his Senate seat for so many years.
So who were the losers? The press, obviously, and the McCain family. Not in the MSM, there was a genuine love-fest, especially for all the broad action against Trump. In a situation that dictates decorum and restraint, however, they both looked tawdry and childish. They both took their chance to settle old scores; their problem was they did it in the open, where many people looked on it as boorish and petty.
The Winner? Donald Trump. For once, The Donald, whether listening to good advice or using good judgment, stepped out of the way and let his detractors open up and look bad. So bad, they made Trump look like the only grownup in the room, a serious man surrounded by unserious people. He complied with the flag issue (question: if Obama had ordered the flag to be restored to full mast after the proper period, would the press have lambasted him? We know the answer.) and generally stayed out of the way. He concluded another trade deal while once again positive news on the economy rolled in. In short, he looked presidential.
Time will see, but this may have been the Wellstone moment, when the memorial to Paul Wellstone backfired in Minnesota and resulted in Republican victory. That’s for the future. As for now, John McCain, has finally, finally, left the stage.