Senator John McCain may be dying, but he is not experiencing the warm fuzzy camaraderie one might expect. The Senator is battling brain cancer, and at this time the treatment is aggressive and of course the cancer is debilitating. However, people who are close to the senator told the White House that he does not want President Donald Trump to attend his funeral, asking for VP Mike Pence to attend instead.
The White House has not given an immediate comment.
The Senator and President Trump have carried on a difficult relationship, especially after a comment candidate Trump made during the Presidential campaign that John McCain was considered a war hero only because he was captured during the Vietnam War; but Mr. Trump went on to say that he preferred military figures who had not been captured by the enemy.
Trump also castigated the Arizona senator for his “no” vote that doomed an important Obamacare repeal bill in the Senate, this immediately after thanking the senator for coming to Washington to vote on the bill, despite his health problems.
For McCain, Trump is the exact opposite of the ideal statesman. In his book, McCain writes:
‘He seems uninterested in the moral character of world leaders and their regimes,’ he writes of the president. ‘The appearance of toughness or a reality show facsimile of toughness seems to matter more than any of our values. Flattery secures his friendship, criticism his enmity.’
Admittedly, President Trump’s usual rhetorical tendency is to praise those who agree with him and to really bring it down on those who criticize or attack him. This has resulted in a feud that one headline characterized with the words, “John McCain Battles Donald Trump with His Dying Breaths.”
Senator McCain was known through much of his political run as “the Maverick” because of his history of making choices that bucked the trend of whatever traditional GOP dogma was at the time.
In the 2008 presidential campaign, John McCain made a bit of American history by being the first GOP candidate to choose a female running mate, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. But his personal choice, so tells his book, was actually the Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman. From the New York Times:
While he continues to defend Ms. Palin’s performance, Mr. McCain uses the documentary and the book to unburden himself about not selecting Mr. Lieberman, a Democrat-turned-independent, as his running mate.
He recalls that his advisers warned him that picking a vice-presidential candidate who caucused with Democrats and supported abortion rights would divide Republicans and doom his chances.
‘It was sound advice that I could reason for myself,” he writes. “But my gut told me to ignore it and I wish I had.’
McCain has been reviled by many across the political spectrum. Some of this came from his tendency to appear to play to liberal ideals from time to time, and he is the usual war-hawk in that group of American politicians who favor military action.
McCain is controversial to say the least, and he is continuing to stir controversy, right through to the very end.