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What Trump's McCain snub tells us about his character

While signing a bill named after John McCain, it would've cost Donald Trump nothing to be gracious toward the ailing senator. But he just couldn't do it.
Image: President Trump Holds Make America Great Again Rally In Pennsylvania
WILKES BARRE, PA - AUGUST 02: President Donald J. Trump speaks to a large crowd on August 2, 2018 at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza in Wilkes Barre,...

Donald Trump seems to enjoy headlining campaign rallies, and nearly all of his recent events have one thing in common: the Republican president sets aside time to whine about Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). Just from the last couple of months, there's video evidence here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Yesterday, however, Trump had an opportunity to be gracious toward the ailing GOP senator of his own party. He just couldn't bring himself to do it.

Congress wanted to honor the ailing Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. President Donald Trump did not.In extended remarks during a visit to Fort Drum in upstate New York to sign the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 -- this year's version of an annual bill that sets defense policy -- Trump chose not to mention the former prisoner of war and Senate Armed Services Committee chairman who is battling brain cancer. He even omitted McCain's name when citing the title of the bill.

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 and his priorities. It would've taken very little effort for the president to mention the Republican senator in some perfunctory way.

But, no. Trump made no reference to McCain while signing the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019.

Yes, the two men have been foes. Yes, they've been publicly critical of one another, as Trump's mockery of McCain's military service helped demonstrate.

But part of being president is being gracious. After McCain and Barack Obama waged a fairly aggressive campaign against one another in 2008, the Democratic president repeatedly offered public praise for his former rival, which is exactly what one would expect of a leader with dignity.

It would have cost Trump nothing to say a few kind words about the ailing senator, and it might have gained him quite a bit. Had the president recognized McCain's service and sacrifices, many observers would've taken note of Trump's willingness to take the high road.

Instead, we were reminded anew of this president's character. Donald Trump is just a small, petty man, and he's reluctant to even pretend otherwise.

A few hours after the Fort Drum event. the president headlined a fundraiser in New York, where he did what he nearly always does at these events: he whined about John McCain's vote last year on his party's health care plan.