Imagine having to speak alongside not one but two presidents and nevertheless uncorking the line that people will most remember from the day. How often do funeral congregations break into actual applause?
In case it’s unclear who her comments were aimed at (how could it possibly be unclear?), she doubled down elsewhere:
“We gather here to mourn the passing of American greatness — the real thing, not cheap rhetoric from men who will never come near the sacrifice he gave so willingly, nor the opportunistic appropriation of those who lived lives of comfort and privilege.”
Meghan’s going to spend the next 48-72 hours being lectured by Trump fans for her supposed lack of decorum, never mind that POTUS could start belching into the mic at his rallies like Booger from “Revenge of the Nerds” and would be cheered for his show of “authenticity” and refreshing disdain for political politesse. It’s a valid criticism in this sense: If the roles were reversed and Ivanka Trump had chosen the occasion of her dad’s funeral to take a shot at McCain, no doubt the entire political class would start clucking about “politicizing a funeral” too.
McCain’s death was already hopelessly politicized, though — by both sides, with the full participation of the deceased himself. Declining to invite the president, particularly when his three immediate predecessors were all sitting up front today, was a momentous snub by McCain; POTUS ordering the flag over the White House raised from half-staff after the absolute minimum mourning period (only to relent after the American Legion criticized him for it) was a pointed snub by Trump. Set aside their personal antipathy and contrasting professional backgrounds. The mere fact that a prominent old-guard internationalist establishmentarian like McCain passed away so soon after the new-guard nationalist-populist wing led by Trump rose to power, with the GOP’s long-term direction uncertain, would have given the ceremony a political charge regardless.
It’s a fair knock to say that Meghan’s shots at Trump were impolite, not so much to Trump himself but to Trump supporters who admired McCain and tuned in today in good faith to hear a celebration of his life, not to have more mud flung at their guy. (I wonder how small the overlapping section is at this point in the Venn diagram of “Trump supporters” and “McCain admirers.”) Ivanka herself and Jared Kushner were in the audience to pay their respects and found themselves having to sit through this. Awkward, to say the least. Ultimately, though, what we dislike about “politicizing a funeral” is that it takes an occasion devoted to the deceased and turns it into a platform for the speaker’s agenda. In which case I guess the question is: Do you think John McCain himself would have disapproved of Meghan’s remarks? Or is this exactly the sort of thing he would have wanted someone to say? Is there any doubt?