Donald Trump sat down with the New York Times last week and fielded a fairly straightforward question about his re-election plans. The president’s answer meandered a bit, before turning to health care – and a certain senator he holds in low regard.
“Health care was terminated,” Trump bragged, as if this were a positive development, “and if the Obamacare were repealed and replaced – except for John McCain, it would have been, you know, he campaigned against it for six years, and then when he had the chance, he went thumbs down at 2:00 in the morning.”
A week later, ahead of his State of the Union address, the president had lunch with television news anchors and reportedly took aim at some of his perceived political enemies.
Not every target was a Democrat. He recounted again the story of what he considered Senator John McCain’s betrayal in voting against advancing a measure to repeal President Barack Obama’s health care program. Although Mr. McCain has since died, Mr. Trump remains upset.
“By the way,” Mr. Trump said, “he wrote a book and the book bombed.”
It’s not the most important detail, but for what it’s worth, the late senator’s most recent book spent several weeks on the bestsellers’ list.
Regardless, the McCain family was apparently disappointed with Trump’s latest antics. Meghan McCain, one of John McCain’s adult children, wrote on Twitter yesterday, “The president’s obsession with my father 6 months after his death is pathetic and telling – even at a time when he should be focusing on his message to the American public and the state of our union – the greatness of my father’s life and legacy haunts you.”
Basic decency and a dash of common sense suggest Trump really ought to get over his contempt for McCain – or at least make an effort to be less public about it – but by all appearances, he just can’t seem to help himself.
This has been evident for a while. Last August, just two weeks before the senator’s passing, Trump hosted an event in New York to sign the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act. The president made no mention of the senator for whom the bill was named and even omitted McCain’s name when citing the title of the legislation.
As we discussed at the time, it would have been easy for Trump to show some class. He could’ve at least acknowledged the name of the legislation, which honored McCain. It would’ve taken very little effort for the president to mention the Republican senator in some perfunctory way as his life neared its end. But he didn’t.
Two weeks later, after McCain died, every living president issued statements commemorating the Arizona Republican and his lifetime of service and sacrifice. Trump did not.
According to the Washington Post, several officials in the West Wing recommended the release of an official statement that applauded McCain’s heroic service – it was pre-written in preparation for the senator’s demise – but Trump personally “nixed” it.
Six months later, the president can’t bring himself to move on. It’s getting a little creepy.