Some things haven’t changed much since the 2016 election of President Trump. The widow of Senator John McCain gave her first television interview to CBS’s John Dickerson, appearing on “CBS This Morning”. She stated that America “needs a strong leader, not a negative Nancy.” Ok then.
McCain told Dickerson she hopes Mr. Trump will learn from the midterm elections and realize “the country needs a strong leader, not a negative Nancy.”
“It’s very humbling to lose and I hope he learns from it,” she said. “We need our president. We need a White House that’s strong, we need a White House that’s not sparring with each other. And right now I think we’re — things are in disarray, and I would hope through this that he does learn.”
Here’s the thing. We have a negative Nancy in Washington, D.C. and she’s about to become the Speaker of the House, thanks to that “humbling” loss in the mid-term elections. She has not been bashful in her criticisms of President Trump and Republicans. The negative Nancy we already have poised to regain power is the one describing tax cuts for regular working class Americans as “crumbs” and eager to do away with them. That’s just one example. Fortunately, the Senate is still Republican-controlled so the destruction of a booming economy will be slowed and her taxpayer money redistribution goals will be tamped down.
As far as a strong White House, I’ll remind Mrs. McCain that the very reason people in regular working class America voted for Donald Trump is that he promised them the opportunity of jobs and national security. He promised to fight for them. Trump has been called many things but weak-willed isn’t one of them. If anything, he comes under fire for being too forceful in some of his speakings. And the usual criticism of a White House sparring with each other is as it always is when people vie for power. Her own husband’s presidential campaign was wrought with power struggles, as has been documented in books written about it. Remember the divisions in the campaign over Sarah Palin, for one example? Palin-bashers were rewarded with opportunities on cable television because the left likes nothing more than a Republican willing to sound like a Democrat in bashing the party.
The kicker for me, from the accounts of the interview I’ve read, was her re-writing of history that John McCain was all about uniting political foes. McCain’s nickname was Maverick and he relished it. He loved bucking his own party and going out on his own. The press loved him for attacking his party and rewarded him with frequent interviews on television and in print, that is until he secured the Republican party nomination in 2008. Then he was painted as any Republican nominee is painted.
“He was the one that was kind of the conscience of the Senate, I believe, and his ability to at least bring people together and talk about it in whatever way he could was very important, and we’ve lost his voice,” McCain said.
In his own words, in his last book, McCain criticized Trump by referring to him as a reality show guy. He did a reality show, of course, but is that language conducive to bringing people together?
He wrote in his memoir that a “reality show facsimile of toughness” seems to matter more to Trump than the nation’s values.
I understand a grieving widow’s rose-colored memories of a husband who devoted his career to serving his country. After his military service, though, he became a politician and that brings all the baggage with it. To label him the conscience of the Senate is a bit Teddy Kennedy-esque for me. Kennedy was his pal and he was a deeply flawed man. Conservatives do not model themselves after Ted Kennedy.
And, then there is the funeral. As I’ve mentioned before, I am a sucker for ceremonies and tradition. In the case of funerals, though, I am angered when the final send-off of anyone is turned political. During the McCain memorial services, they turned political and I had flashbacks to the infamous memorial service for the late Senator Paul Wellstone, a Democrat from Minnesota. It got ugly with Republican leaders there that were booed as they walked in. Later, apologies were issued from the senator’s staff. I remember watching it at the time and I was shocked to see it turn into a political rally. McCain’s funeral, for me, felt a lot like that. I suppose it was great if you don’t support the current president, but it certainly wasn’t unifying by any stretch of the imagination. The intention to call for more civility in political discourse may have been the original goal but no such message was received by at least half of the country.
McCain also discussed the message her late husband intended to send with his memorial service, which many saw as a rebuke of President Trump. According to McCain, it was not, nor was that his intention.
“His message was just that we need civility…we need to go back to a country that was lovingly respected around the world, even in times of difficulty. And understood that when we gave our word we meant it.”
Was America strong under the last administration? Was America respected as former President Obama drew a red line and then ignored it in Syria? How about the death of an American ambassador in Benghazi? The deal with Iran was certainly worthy of the criticism her husband delivered against it at the time.
Mrs. McCain noted that neither President Trump nor Melania has reached out to her since the funeral. Is this a surprise? They were very clear in their intention to shut them both out of attending any of the memorial services. I see it as the two of them honoring the widow’s wishes and leaving her alone. I’ll note that even the family of Barbara Bush invited the First Lady to her memorial service in Houston with the past presidents and First Ladies.
Although neither President Trump nor the First Lady reached out to her after the funeral, McCain said it was okay, because it “was not what I needed at the time. I needed my family, and I had them.”
“My personal feeling is that he is now the president of the United States. I respect the office and respect the, you know, what this means to the country. You know, our families have had their differences and I’ll leave it at that. I mean, we are– we– it’s been– it’s at times been hard for me to listen to him about my husband, I’ll be honest.”
I wish her well. Civility is a two-way street and that is a lesson that will not be learned as long as one side demands it of the other without reciprocal action.