When Donald Trump was elected as President of the United States of America in 2016, it came after a tumultuous and highly divisive election campaign. Upon the result being announced and the transferring of power from the Obama Administration to the Trump’s, many hoped the rhetoric would fade. And on the rare occasion, there have been moments when it has seemed as though it has. But this week that divisive and brutal fustian re-emerged in a more visceral and confusing way than ever before.
The 45th President has, since his inauguration, divided his country. There are those who loathe him, others who love him and unlike previous leaders of the ‘land of the free’, these are the only two options. No middle ground. No grey area. It’s one or the other. Positioning themselves into these two unmovable camps are Americans who, from all political sides reacted in confusion at the President’s most recent comments. Comments which criticised a Senator who firmly placed himself as a Republican who loathed his President and was unwilling to sing from Trump’s unique political hymn sheet.
John McCain was and still is an American hero. His service and sacrifice for the Star-Spangled Banner have far-outweighed more than most, and in 2018 he was rightly honoured for those services at his State Funeral. But, amongst his rewarded respect from Veterans, Republicans and even Democrats, one who wasn’t so keen was President Donald Trump.
This week Trump stated at a rally, in front of mostly Veterans, that he “didn’t get a thank you” for “allowing” McCain’s State Funeral. The comments came unprovoked and were rounded off with a similar sentiment Trump had stated the day before. “We sent him on his way, but I wasn’t a fan of John McCain,” he said.
Now whilst it isn’t shocking that Trump didn’t think favourably of the late Arizona Senator (he was just as openly critical when McCain was alive), it is somewhat bizarre that he would focus on a Senator who died of cancer seven-months ago. And the confusion only increased when his comments made in his address were factually incorrect.
When it came to McCain’s funeral, it was Congress who gave permission for him to lie in state, not Trump. It was Washington’s National Cathedral which allowed his funeral service to be based there, not Trump. In fact, the only element of the entire mechanism in the run-up to McCain’s final send-off which the President approved, was the plane used to bring his body to Washington.
But forgetting the details, are Trump’s continuing criticisms threatening his bid for the Presidency in 2020? At the moment – no.
A recent poll by CNN (another favourite of Trump’s) revealed that 42% of American’s approve of the President, a pretty big increase from his previous result. But what was impressive and will most likely boost Trump’s confidence in his Presidency, is the revelation that 7 in 10 American’s say the economy is in good-shape. What these results prove is something many have been stating as the reason Trump ended up in the White House in the first place.
Many Americans are willing to turn a blind eye to his questionable rhetoric. Instead their focus is on, how much money can Trump make us? Will he keep my job safe? Can he provide me a better quality of life? This CNN poll certainly insinuates many Americans think he can. So sadly, the legacy of an American hero can, in cases, become an afterthought. But John McCain does not deserve to be one.
This is a man who was captured and tortured for five years in Vietnam. This is a man who, due to the brutal abuses of his captures, could not raise his arms above his head. This is a man who after his death, was honoured as a friend and not an enemy by the Vietnamese people. He is a first-thought, and nothing else.
Unfortunately for Trump, in McCain he perhaps saw a man, a politician who was universally respected by both sides of the aisle; something which this President has never had the fortune of experiencing. And whilst sometimes outrage towards Donald Trump has been selective, on this occasion, Trump deserves the scorn. Afterall, John McCain isn’t here to defend himself or his legacy.
But what is more frustrating about the President picking a fight with a dead man, is it distracts from issues America is currently facing. Twenty American veterans are committing suicide each day, according to a PTSD Awareness Month Investigation. There has been a dramatic rise in teen-suicides also, with bullying on Social Media being the main cause. Donald Trump is a leader, what example does this set when the President of the United States of America openly mocks a dead man? It allows others to follow suit, it removes the red-lines of decency.
The First Lady, Melania Trump set up her campaign ‘Be Best’ to combat the destructive nature of online bullying, yet how does it make her look with her husband’s actions.
Donald Trump is loved by his base, to them he can do no wrong, but to the more moderate Republicans and most importantly, the independent voters, he can and in this case, he has. To attack an American hero, someone who was revered and respected deeply by the country he served, could easily turn into an own-goal for Trump.
John McCain has been dead seven-months, but that doesn’t mean he has gone. Trump’s comments about his rival prove that McCain’s spirit and legacy still haunts the 45th President. Sadly, this political haunting is one of the President’s own making. He must stop addressing John McCain with unnecessary vitriol, and if he can’t then don’t mention him at all. If he doesn’t, then Donald Trump’s Presidency could be blocked, from beyond the grave, by the man he so evidently despised.