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John McCain: in memoriam

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The McCain service in Arizona was so touching, but there was an ugly non-presence that must have been evident to everyone who watched: Trump.

All the dignity of McCain, his integrity and love which were so well described by his family and friends, stood in sharp, sad contrast to the man whom McCain would not permit to attend: Trump.

This was public shaming. A respected Senator whose death caused the country to pause for a few days essentially gave the finger to the sitting President of the United States of America. “I don’t want you at my service,” McCain said from the grave.

This was no mere petty gesture by a resentful old man. McCain didn’t take Trump’s insults personally. After all he had been through, nasty words could not hurt him. McCain, unlike Trump, was a big man. His banishment of Trump was necessary out of respect for America. McCain refused Trump admission to the hall of dignity and rectitude because Trump possesses neither dignity nor rectitude. McCain knew his final services would be symbolic moments of purity, sanctity and redemption for America. He did not wish for that to be stained by a dark, unholy presence.

How do the people around Trump stay sane? How do they tolerate indecency after indecency? How do they look in the mirror and what do they think when they see the face, staring back at them, that their parents had such high hopes for? Eyes seeing eyes that know the moral turpitude they have fallen–no, not fallen, stepped into. Do they excuse themselves by believing in God, or by giving money to charity? Do they lose themselves in alcohol and drugs? Do they understand that there is no excuse? No, of course not; for if they knew what they have done, they would know that there is no forgiveness.

So, I imagine, they endure by telling themselves they’re guardrails. “Things would be worse without me,” must go their reasoning. “I can at least stop him from his worst impulses.” But this sort of reasoning is madness. Everything Trump touches turns to dross. He leaves a path of destruction and moral collapse in his wake, bringing down the people around him. Each of those who remain with him believes he or she will be left standing, with reputation intact, when this is all over. They cannot see that their reputations already lay in tatters, that their children and grandchildren will someday be embarrassed by them, if they are not already.

McCain’s death and these memorial services make me—perhaps you, too—think about death. Who will mourn me with such an outpouring of grief? I know one death that will not be accompanied by national mourning: Trump’s. Whatever days God grants him from here on, with each his stature diminishes. He was small to begin with, but humorous, in a way: a Big Apple personality, brash and ridiculous, but amusing. Now, he is a stain, a smudge, a wormhole in the apple. It is astonishing how quickly he has fallen in the eyes of the American people and the world. It hardly matters whether he serves out the remainder of his term. He is a pathetic figure, alone, disreputable, shameful.

Let all America watch the funeral this Saturday. Let the voices of two moral men be heard: George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Let the non-presence of their successor be widely remarked. Trump will not be there because his presence would dishonor the life of John McCain. This lacuna will not go unnoticed by History. This is a president whose name already has an asterisk next to it: “Elected with the help of Russia.” There may or may not be an additional asterisk: “Impeached.” But there certainly will be this note: “Loathed by his countrymen.”

Meanwhile, the Mueller-Southern District of New York investigation clock continues to tick. And tick. And tick. Have a lovely weekend!

  1. Bob Rossi says:

    If you want to get sick reading about a person’s praise of Trump, read this letter, from a local weekly.:

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