Sen. Orrin Hatch, the long-serving Utah Republican who will leave the Senate next year, is publicly urging John McCain to reconsider his apparent decision not to invite President Donald Trump to his funeral and preferring Vice President Mike Pence in his stead.
Politico reported that while Hatch conceded it was the Arizona senator’s call who to invite, he wasn’t in favor of the decision.
“I think it’s ridiculous,” Hatch said.
“Well, he’s the president of the United States and he’s a very good man,” he added of Trump’s character. “But it’s up to (McCain). I think John should have his own wishes fulfilled with regard to who attends the funeral.”
Asked if he would change his mind were he in McCain’s shoes, Hatch responded, “I would.”
Hatch also speculated on McCain’s health, saying that he didn’t think the Arizona senator would return to the upper chamber due to complications from the brain cancer that he’s been fighting.
“That’s what I’ve been told,” the 84-year-old Hatch said. “I don’t know. I hope he does, I hope he can.”
Hatch’s people, somewhat predictably, later clarified that the Utah senator “spoke out of turn about Senator McCain’s status.”
“He’s been pleased to hear reports that Senator McCain is in good spirits and hopes to see him back in Washington soon,” Matt Whitlock, Hatch’s spokesman, said.
McCain’s decision was first reported by NBC News over the weekend, as was a passage from McCain’s new memoir that trashed the president for both his policies and his personality.
“He seems uninterested in the moral character of world leaders and their regimes,” McCain wrote of Trump. “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.”
It isn’t the first run-in between Trump and McCain, whose relations frayed during the campaign after a statement Trump made about McCain’s POW status during the Vietnam War and quickly deteriorated from there.
They’re still at it, too, as Trump’s used his speech at the NRA national convention in Dallas to hit McCain over his vote killing Obamacare reform.
“We are decimating Obamacare,” Trump said. “We got a bad vote … We got a bad vote the evening we were going to terminate Obamacare. We got a bad vote. You know about that, right? That was not a nice thing. That was an unexpected vote.”
While McCain certainly doesn’t have to invite Trump to deliver one of his eulogies (an honor that will go to George W. Bush and Barack Obama, reportedly) or even have any official role, denying Trump an invitation — and letting the world know beforehand — is pretty much the last exasperating act of John McCain’s career, one where he feels that the president is no longer dignified enough to attend his funeral, mostly because he doesn’t like him.
I always feel I need to add the caveat to any story involving McCain that he’s served his country heroically as a pilot, POW and public servant. I list those things as an incantation against his later career, in which he has sought to establish himself as the “last of a dying breed” by betraying his party and siding with an increasingly leftist Democrat party on issues like Obamacare and border control. This doesn’t make him a centrist so much as a liberal who gives lip service to conservative values.
He is, in the finality of finalities, going to take his last act on earth and turn it into a protest against the president. Even in impending death, McCain wants conservatives to know he’s going to be burning bridges until the very end.
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