McCain’s funeral: The subtext wasn’t subtle
Sen. John McCain’s funeral service wasn’t just a memorial, said Susan Glasser in NewYorker.com. It “was the biggest meeting of the Resistance yet.” In the months before his death, the Arizona senator meticulously crafted every aspect of his funeral to send one final message to the nation, inviting his former rivals Barack Obama and George W. Bush to deliver eulogies in a pointed rebuke of the uninvited President Trump. Obama denounced the kind of politics that is “small and mean and petty, trafficking in bombast and insult,” saying that McCain “called on us to be bigger than that.” George W. Bush spoke of how McCain “could not abide bigots and swaggering despots” and “detested the abuse of power.” Meghan McCain, the senator’s daughter, dispensed with subtext almost entirely, denouncing “cheap” patriotic rhetoric from men who’d lived lives of comfort and privilege while her father suffered as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. “The America of John McCain does not need to be made great again,” she said through tears and applause. “Because it is already great.”
McCain deserved “a big send-off,” said Joe Concha in TheHill.com. But if he hadn’t voted against Obamacare repeal in one of his last acts as a senator, would he be receiving the adulation he got last week? The media loved him when he was bucking GOP orthodoxy, and made him a “villain” when he ran a conventionally conservative campaign in 2008. Now that he’s a convenient foil for Trump, he’s back to being a saint. Let’s not forget that McCain gave us the populist Sarah Palin as a vice presidential candidate, said Steve Chapman in the Chicago Tribune. Her “ignorant demagoguery was practically a blueprint for Trump’s campaign.” But Trump is so awful that McCain now looks like a paragon of virtue.
As Washington bid farewell to McCain, his funeral “also felt like a memorial for Washington herself,” said Tim Alberta in Politico.com. It was the kind of clubby, bipartisan gathering of “virtue-signaling, convention-worshipping insiders” that angry Trump voters have rejected. But even before Trump, “McCain’s idyllic Washington—one defined by ferocious battles waged with a mutual goodwill” has been mostly a myth since the Clinton administration. For decades, our politics have been soured “by a combination of class warfare, zero-sum legislating, and cultural polarization.” Sadly, the civility and unity on display at McCain’s funeral won’t last. “In today’s Washington, it never does.”