John McCain’s Funeral Invitations Are None of Our Business
Over the years, we've heard the term "derangement syndrome" used to describe the bombastic rhetoric often employed by vocal opponents of U.S. presidents. This began back in 2003, when the late Charles Krauthammer coined the phrase Bush Derangement Syndrome, describing it as "the acute onset of paranoia in otherwise normal people in reaction to the policies, the presidency—nay—the very existence of George W. Bush."
For those who remember how much the Left absolutely loathed Bush back then (especially at the height of the Iraq War), it's safe to say that Krauthammer nailed the diagnosis.
More recently, Trump Derangement Syndrome has been used by some to describe our current president's fiercest detractors. But as any political writer could tell you, another prominent U.S. politician, who was met with more than his fair share of derangement, was Senator John McCain.
McCain was unique in that he somehow managed to draw out the very worst from both sides of the political aisle. Whenever I wrote a piece on McCain (or simply posted something about him on social media), my thoughts were almost immediately assaulted with vile, disparaging comments about the senator, usually involving some mockery of his war record or POW status, or a reference to the long-ago debunked conspiracy theory that his military recklessness led to over a hundred U.S. sailors dying.
And that was just from his fellow Republicans/conservatives!
By the way, if you think these trolls represent only a tiny contingent of the base, keep in mind that Trump's poll numbers shot up dramatically during the GOP primary, right after he mocked McCain over his war-time capture.
Of course there was some overlap from the lefties, but liberals more often went the route of calling McCain a "neocon" and a "warmonger" (which some righties did as well).
Regardless, one would have hoped that the visceral ugliness would lessened sharply after McCain's death, but sadly it hasn't (as anyone who's been following political discussions on social media over the past few days can attest to). In fact, there's one story in particular that partisans have latched onto in an attempt to stoke one last anti-McCain narrative. And sadly, it involves the senator's funeral.
We learned back in May, after the severity of McCain's brain cancer was made public, that the senator did not want President Trump to attend his funeral. This shouldn't have surprised anyone based the two's history and McCain's often expressed low opinion of our president.
By any reasonable measure, the decision made perfect sense. After all, if I had suffered five years of brutal capture and unimaginable torture in service of our country, I wouldn't want a guy who mocked that experience attending my funeral either (president or not). And I can't imagine many people seeing it differently.
Additionally, there are few things more personal than a funeral service. If the person being laid to rest has some requests for how it should be conducted, those requests should be respected.
Unsurprisingly, that wasn't the case with McCain. Trump partisans slammed the senator, framing him as a bitter old man who was disrespecting the office of the presidency. This despite the fact that McCain requested the previous two U.S. presidents (both of whom he'd lost to when he ran for president) to speak at his service.
The narrative returned earlier this week when it was reported that McCain's 2008 presidential running-mate, Sarah Palin, was not invited to his funeral. According to some reports, she was asked by intermediaries not to come.
McCain's detractors were quick to pounce:
— roland t. stiles (@Roland_Stiles) August 30, 2018
Of course, in political terms, loyalty is defined merely by withholding public criticism of someone. And in the case of Palin and McCain, one could fairly say that both of them were politically loyal. Neither spoke ill of the other following their unsuccessful campaign from 10 years ago.
What isn't mentioned in the column is that the two were never particularly close before or after the campaign, and probably saw very little of each other over the past decade. Who knows what their non-public relationship was like?
Also not mentioned what that a number a longtime McCain staffers, including other prominent members of his past campaigns, weren't invited either.
The fact is, we don't know how the invitation list was decided. We don't know (other than in the case with Trump) who made the final decisions, and what rationale he, she, or they used. But what we should know — and this is important — is that this isn't a public policy or representation issue. Thus, it's absolutely none of our business.
It strikes me as odd that people who were not part of McCain's inner-circle (and in some cases couldn't even stand the man) feel qualified to decide who has earned the right to be at his funeral service. That seems awfully arrogant to me. I mean, if I died, and people had the audacity to trash me and my grieving family over not inviting an old co-worker to my funeral service, I would hope someone would have the common decency to stand up and put those folks in their place.
Don't get me wrong. I understand why this is a story. Palin will forever be identified with John McCain, having become an overnight celebrity when he picked her to be his running mate. She was a favorite media punching-bag back then, and she still is. So any perceived slight of her — especially from her own side of the aisle — is going to generate headlines.
But that doesn't mean we need to buy into the media narrative. And it doesn't mean we should add to the disparagement of an American war hero (along with his family), who gave more of his life to this country than probably anyone any of us will ever meet.
A patriot's family should, at minimum, be afforded the grace of honoring that patriot in whatever way they see fit. Let's give them that grace... without the judgment.