I watched the entire John McCain funeral, deeply moved. I’ve never voted for the man, and didn’t agree with him on a lot. But I thought — I hope — this dignified, honorable send-off recognizing the lifelong service of an American patriot might be our Joseph Welch/McCarthy “have you no decency” moment. I wonder if it can be the moment that restores decency and civility and integrity to our political process, jarring loose whatever fever is gripping Trump followers. The subtext from everyone who spoke, it seemed to me, said “This is the kind of America we want to be — a far cry from what we have”.
Apparently Arizona Governor Doug Ducey feels the need to appease Cindy McCain with the choice of her husband’s appointed successor. Ducey could do far worse than to pick Meghan McCain. She is intelligent, articulate, and like her father, the master of the one-liner. Her serial put-downs of Trump, delivered without ever mentioning his name, were priceless. We’ll see if Trump, who has thin skin in any case and especially when criticized by women, goes after her on Twitter.
All of the grey eminences of American politics on both sides of the aisle were there. Unfortunately Jared and Ivanka were too. You’d think a smidgen of self-awareness would have told them to give everyone a break and stay away, but the Trump crowd isn’t big on self-awareness.
To admire John McCain’s patriotism, long public service and his courage during his imprisonment during the VietNam war isn’t to make him a saint. He had his share of missteps — adultery in his first marriage, and the Keating Five Savings & Loan scandal in the late 1980’s. But he was a decent, dignified man — and the people who showed up to honor him were decent, articulate, dignified people who could put together fifteen minutes worth of praise without inserting themselves into the story and without lapsing into incoherence, as Trump so often does.
We have a lot of small, conniving figures in national politics these days, and some of them spoke at the rotunda service: smarmy Pence, power hungry McConnell, and spineless Paul Ryan. I didn’t watch that at all. But the service in the National Cathedral brought together a poignant reminder of what we’ve lost in our political discourse, and it isn’t just John McCain.