A man’s entitled to invite whomever he likes to his funeral. But it’s strange that McCain’s being eulogized today by one of the guys who defeated him in 2008 and will be eulogized by the other guy who defeated him in 2008 on Saturday…
Even for a Maverick, that’s pretty “maverick.”
Three of the most prominent members of his 2008 presidential campaign – campaign manager Steve Schmidt, senior adviser Nicolle Wallace, and longtime strategist John Weaver — were not invited to any of McCain’s services, according to three people familiar with the guest list.
It’s not clear whether McCain ordered the snubbing of formerly high-ranking aides before his death. The McCain family has carefully organized all of the funeral proceedings, which begin Thursday in Arizona and conclude Saturday at the National Cathedral. Invitations were extended on Monday with RSVPs from invitees requested by Tuesday, according to one of the people familiar with the proceedings.
Strangest of all about these snubs is the fact that Schmidt, Wallace, and Weaver are emphatically from “the McCain wing” of the party. Palin’s a populist, albeit a rare populist who was publicly complimentary of her old running mate, but she backed Trump and helped steer the party away from neoconservatism and towards reactionary nationalism. You can sort of understand McCain snubbing her on those grounds, even if it seems petty regardless. But Schmidt, Wallace, and Weaver are among the loudest anti-Trump voices on the center-right. Each of them palpably loathes him and the direction he’s taken the party. Schmidt left the GOP altogether over it, Wallace currently anchors on the left’s cable news network of choice, and Weaver’s new client, John Kasich, may take the extraordinary step of primarying Trump in 2020. Each of them would doubtless tell you that if the GOP had fewer Trumps and more McCains it would be vastly better off.
So why’d they end up snubbed if they were each so in tune with Maverick himself? Hard feelings from 2008, says Politico — or rather, from the aftermath of 2008:
In the wake of the 2008 campaign, Schmidt and Wallace were publicly critical of McCain’s decision to tap Palin, though Schmidt played a role in it himself. Both cooperated with Mark Halperin and John Heilemann’s 2009 book “Game Change,” which chronicled Palin’s tumultuous time on the campaign trail and helped catapult Schmidt and Wallace to national fame after HBO turned the book into a movie…
“That cathedral will be filled with people who stabbed McCain in the front. Schmidt and Nicolle and Weaver stabbed him in the back and you can’t find a single McCain loyalist who will say different or feels different,” said one of the people familiar with the guest list and funeral arrangements.
McCain allegedly viewed it as a “betrayal” that Schmidt and Wallace talked smack about Palin and the campaign to John Heilemann and Mark Halperin for their “Game Change” book, but he and Schmidt apparently reconciled in recent years. And as I say, all three have been nothing but complimentary of McCain in contrast to Trump, treating him as a role model for the party. That’s not worth an invitation to so much as enter the building during his funeral? Sweet fancy moses. I don’t know — maybe they should show up, see what happens. “Donald Trump and Sarah Palin were not served official notice outright,” said a source close to the McCains to People magazine. “I want to make that clear. It wasn’t a no-trespass order. They won’t be turned away by guards if they show up at the funeral.” Crashing the McCain funeral would be the Trumpiest thing ever.
No, scratch that. Crashing the McCain funeral and then tweeting “Zzzzzzzz” during Obama’s eulogy would be the Trumpiest thing ever.
Oh, if you’re wondering whether maybe the lack of invites for Schmidt et al. could be an oversight given that there are a lot of logistics involved in a four-day multi-city celebration of McCain’s life, it’s highly unlikely. Read this NYT rundown of how long the planning’s been going on, with McCain himself intimately involved in every detail. Oversights of any kind, in the guest list or otherwise, are improbable. “He wanted to reinforce his message that there is more that unites us than separates us,” said a friend about McCain’s thinking in planning the proceedings. By … deliberately snubbing a bunch of people who’d worked to make him president?
Here’s one of the guys who made the cut, speaking today in Phoenix.