President Trump is a petty and vindictive man. When criticized in the slightest, Trump’s usual reaction is to lash out, often with ad hominem attacks.
Case in point: Earlier this month, Trump was watching CNN at midnight when he heard NBA star LeBron James diss him (only in the slightest, saying he “can’t sit back and say nothing”). Trump took to Twitter to whine: “Lebron James was just interviewed by the dumbest man on television, Don Lemon. He made Lebron look smart, which isn’t easy to do. I like Mike!”
A double whammy, hitting Lemon and James. So petty.
And that pettiness governed his relationship with Sen. John McCain, who died of brain cancer on Saturday at age 81.
Of course, Trump was waaaaay over his head in going to battle with McCain. The bona fide war hero had spent more than five years in a POW camp in Vietnam, being tortured and beaten nearly to death. Trump, for his part, repeatedly got draft deferments from the Vietnam War — four for college, one for bad feet, The New York Times reports.
The two alphas had engaged in a war of words for some time. After Trump in 2016 attacked Mexican immigrants — “They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists” — McCain said Trump was “firing up the crazies” with his views.
Trump couldn’t let that slide, and attacked in the way he does — saying at a campaign event in Iowa that McCain was not a war hero.
“He’s a war hero because he was captured,” he said. “I like people that weren’t captured.”
McCain hit back after a tape of Trump making vile comments about women — the “grab ’em by the p***y” scandal — emerged. “Donald Trump’s behavior makes it impossible to continue to offer even conditional support for his candidacy,” McCain said, adding that there were “no excuses” for Trump’s comments.
The Arizona Republican also drew Trump’s ire when he went against his party and voted against Trump’s bid to reform health care. Trump said of the Republicans who opposed his proposal: “They don’t have the guts to vote for it.”
“John McCain never had any intention of voting for this Bill, which his Governor loves. He campaigned on Repeal & Replace. Let Arizona down!” Trump bemoaned on Twitter.
John McCain never had any intention of voting for this Bill, which his Governor loves. He campaigned on Repeal & Replace. Let Arizona down!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 23, 2017
McCain, to be sure, raised the ire of many conservatives. Beloved by the liberal media as a “maverick” for his proclivity to take on his own party, the senator was often labeled a RINO (Republican In Name Only) and blasted for his refusal to toe the party line. But no one can ever doubt McCain’s dedication to America, or question his honesty and integrity, which is why so many Democrats were willing to work with him across the aisle throughout his lengthy career in the Senate.
And now, after a long battle with cancer, McCain has passed away. Former presidents and statesmen around the world praised the fiery senator and war hero — but not Trump. Normally, the president would put out a statement on the death of such a man, but not Trump. He again took to Twitter.
“My deepest sympathies and respect go out to the family of Senator John McCain. Our hearts and prayers are with you!” Trump wrote.
My deepest sympathies and respect go out to the family of Senator John McCain. Our hearts and prayers are with you!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 26, 2018
No praise for McCain, no words about his long service to America, his military career, just “deepest sympathies and respect go out to the family.” Not McCain, his family.
Meanwhile, every living former president released statements praising McCain. Barack Obama, who defeated McCain in the 2008 presidential election, said in a statement on Saturday night that “we shared, for all our differences, a fidelity to something higher — the ideals for which generations of Americans and immigrants alike have fought, marched and sacrificed.”
George W. Bush, who won the Republican nomination for president over Mr. McCain in 2000, said in his statement: “Some lives are so vivid, it is difficult to imagine them ended. Some voices are so vibrant it is hard to imagine them stilled.”
But not Trump.
Early reports say Bush and Obama will offer eulogies at his funeral, to be held at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. Vice President Mike Pence is to attend, but not Trump.
And that’s a real shame. Trump should suck it up, praise McCain for the hero he was — and for his steadfast service to America for 60 years — and, in death, let bygones be bygones.
But Trump isn’t big enough to do that. And that just goes to show that Trump was never worthy to shine McCain’s shoes.