John McCain has been one of the strongest critics of Donald Trump on the Republican side of the aisle … and it looks like that animosity will be going with him all the way to the grave.
The 81-year-old senator’s time is limited, and he knows it. McCain was diagnosed with aggressive brain cancer last year, and although he has continued to fight it and stay active as a lawmaker, he acknowledges that the battle is not one that he can actually win.
It seems he isn’t letting bygones be bygones, either, at least when it comes to President Trump. According to The New York Times, the Arizona senator and his staff have already begun planning for his funeral, and inviting the president is not on the agenda.
“His intimates have informed the White House that their current plan for his funeral is for Vice President Mike Pence to attend the service to be held in Washington’s National Cathedral but not President Trump, with whom Mr. McCain has had a rocky relationship,” reported the newspaper.
That service, when it comes, will no doubt be a major affair with VIP attendance and national news coverage. McCain and Trump may have such a bad relationship that the commander in chief isn’t invited to the funeral, but the senator is keeping close contact with a few other big names.
Former Vice President Joe Biden — a Democrat — is one of them. According to The Times, he’s been spending hours at the McCain residence in Arizona, which apparently included a bit of veiled Trump bashing.
“Here John knows he’s in a very, very, very precarious situation, and yet he’s still concerned about the state of the country,” Biden told The Times. “We talked about how our international reputation is being damaged and we talked about the need for people to stand up and speak out.”
Barack Obama’s running mate didn’t say Trump’s name, but he was clearly implying that the current president was bad for the direction of the country.
Another liberal, Senator Joe Lieberman, has also been chummy with McCain during the last few months. In fact, McCain admitted in his upcoming book “The Restless Wave” that he largely blames his 2008 presidential loss on not choosing Lieberman as his running mate.
“He also recalls how his campaign advisers argued that picking Lieberman as his running mate would divide the Republican Party, because of his political affiliations,” explained The Hill.
“It was sound advice that I could reason for myself,” McCain wrote. “But my gut told me to ignore it and I wish I had.”
Lieberman, a moderate liberal, was the running mate of Al Gore in the 2000 race. Had McCain picked him, the Connecticut senator would have been the vice presidential pick for Democrats one year and Republicans less than a decade later.
In a way, John McCain’s insistence on clinging to moderate liberalism, exemplified by Lieberman and Biden, perfectly illustrates the problem with his political career. Nobody disputes that McCain is a fighter, but he always seemed to be somewhat confused about which side he was fighting for.
Take the sweepingly unpopular Obamacare measure, for instance. After repeatedly promising his constituents and the American people that he would do whatever it took to repeal and replace the legislation, McCain had a chance to finally keep his word last year — and caved.
Whom a man invites to his own funeral is, of course, his business, and a somber service without the inevitable distractions of a Trump appearance is not the worst idea in the world.
If that decision is meant as a personal snub against the president, however, it strikes of pettiness from a politician who twice failed to reach the Oval Office.
Continuing to play politics even while looking at the sunset of life is rather bittersweet. Hopefully, John McCain will be able to let regrets and squabbles fade away, and face his final months with tranquility.
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