President Donald Trump infamously has no shame when it comes to disparaging others, but he should make an exception and be ashamed of his recent, continuing attacks on the late Sen. John McCain.
Instead, he continues to prove that he is a man without character.
It is no secret that the two men were incredibly different from one another: Sen. McCain represented the best of America, while Trump represents the worst of it. McCain was courteous and kind in his approach to politics and embodied true bipartisanship (which was why he was proudly and honorably eulogized by friends and colleagues on the other side of the political spectrum, including his 2008 presidential opponent, Barack Obama).
Trump, meanwhile, went on a Twitter tirade against McCain last weekend, attacking him for his role in giving the FBI a dossier of information about Trump’s Russia dealings that the senator received from its well-respected author and then went on to falsely claim that McCain graduated last in his class at the Naval Academy (he was actually fifth from the bottom) — and he hasn’t stopped. Instead, he has disgustingly doubled down on his attacks despite backlash from the public.
And then on Wednesday in front of a military audience in Ohio, Trump continued to disparage Sen.McCain saying, “I have to be honest: I’ve never liked him much.” To add fuel to the fire, he also said that he gave McCain “the funeral he wanted, and I didn’t get a thank you.”
Some prominent Republicans have responded, like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who called McCain "a hero" in a Wednesday Tweet, and Trump ally and supporter Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who said on Wednesday, “I think the president’s comments about Senator McCain hurt him more than the legacy of Senator McCain.”
Sen. McCain’s daughter Meghan McCain has consistently responded to the president's provocations, tweeting first on Saturday, “No one will ever love you the way they loved my father... I wish I had been given more Saturdays with him. Maybe spend yours with your family instead of on twitter obsessing over mine?” Since then she has comported herself with dignity and grace and remarked that Trump’s continued attacks on her father is a “bizarre new low” and that’s he just “so jealous” of her father — and I agree. What else could be spurring Trump’s desire to share his hatred of McCain now?
While these posthumous attacks are a bizarre new low even for Trump, he's long been critical of the war hero and patriot McCain, going back to the 2016 election when he stated that he liked people who weren’t captured, in reference to McCain’s time as a prisoner of war.
But no matter how disparaging the comments, McCain never backed down when he was alive. Instead, he spoke his mind and vociferously stood against the Trump policies that he believed were harmful to America.
For instance, in October 2017 at the Liberty Medal ceremony, he criticized Trump’s nationalist agenda, believing it is one of “blood and soil” that is “half-baked and spurious.” McCain rightfully believed that we are a nation of ideals, and that we are the custodians of those ideals at home and their champion abroad. "We will not thrive in a world where our leadership and ideals are absent," he said. "We wouldn't deserve to."
John McCain put his life on the line for our country through his military service and spent six years as a prisoner of war as a result, after which he served his country honorably for over 30 years in public office. He was always been a tireless advocate for American leadership, recognizing that America is stronger and safer when the world is stronger and safer.
President Trump’s words, actions and lack of leadership, by comparison, pose a threat to America’s role in the world. For example, Trump has threatened to pull out of crucial agreements and has said he would leave global organizations such as NATO that rely heavily on the leadership of the United States.
Lawmakers like McCain courageously stepped forward to confront Trump’s dangerous policies; others now need to assume that mantle. We must always fight for what is right and hold those in elected office accountable — even when it's unpopular to do so, and even if the president of the United States might make you the next target of one of his shameful attacks.
Ashley Pratte is a political commentator and communications strategist who previously served as director of media relations and public affairs at the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the director of media relations and consultant for Better For America. She currently serves on the Board of Republican Women for Progress.