Sciascia: The McCain Family's Bitterness Knows No Bounds


It appears one member of the McCain brood is ready to admit it: The family has abandoned its conservative values over bad blood with President Donald Trump.

On Tuesday evening, the late GOP Sen. John McCain’s widow, Cindy, finally said the quiet part out loud, officially endorsing 2020 Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

“My husband John lived by a code: country first,” McCain wrote Tuesday evening on Twitter. “We are Republicans, yes, but Americans foremost.”

“There’s only one candidate in this race who stands up for our values as a nation, and that is Joe Biden,” McCain added.

“Joe and I don’t always agree on the issues, and I know he and John certainly had some passionate arguments, but he is a good and honest man. He will lead us with dignity.”

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The move was equal parts inconsequential and unsurprising.

Since McCain’s long-expected death on Aug. 25, 2018, his family has all but deified their patriarch at every turn, incessantly employing his public service record and political reputation as a cudgel with which to beat Trump.

Every birthday, holiday and obscure McCain anniversary — every single time the current president misspeaks or misbehaves — you can count on a member of the late senator’s immediate family to say, “Unlike Trump, John McCain was a man of honor and he would have done [fill in the blank]. This country was so much better off with his principled leadership.”

It may be Cindy or it may be her daughter Meghan, co-host of ABC’s “The View” — but you can bet your bottom dollar someone in the McCain family is standing up to say it.

Heck, you could set your watch by it. And you know what? Fair enough, to some degree.

When then-candidate Trump suggested on the campaign trail in 2015 that John McCain was “not a war hero” for the simple fact that “he was captured” and relentlessly tortured at the Hanoi Hilton during the Vietnam War, he took an innocuous political feud ten bridges too far.

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John McCain was a war hero by all accounts and a dignified, graceful statesman by any honest observation.

Conversely, this president is inelegant and unconsidered. His remarks were ugly, distasteful and downright disrespectful to our men and women in uniform unfortunate enough to have been prisoners of war.

This, however, does not mean that members of the conservative movement must iron out the flaws McCain left in his own legacy and go on pretending the man was a paragon.

Nor does it mean we must validate the McCain family and their establishmentarian friends in Washington for their open opposition to a deeply conservative Republican platform, acting as though what they are doing can in any way, shape or form be described as “principled.”

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Quite the opposite, in fact. We must call such things out for what they are.

There is nothing principled about backing an increasingly radical Democratic Party over one’s own subjective sense of honor, decorum and political decency.

That, my friends, is what we call misplaced proprieties. That is a selfish abandonment of one’s values.

And make no mistake, it comes not from any sense of “principle.”

It comes from a heart loaded with unchecked bitterness — a heart the McCains undoubtedly possess.

John McCain, for all his heroism and all his accolades, took a beating from then-junior Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois in the 2008 presidential election.

Do you think the McCains are truly conservative?

In the years that followed, he and his family would watch as the Republican Party passed them by, turning first to the Tea Party and then to a politically untested populist for leadership.

Were this not enough, that untested populist would go on to intentionally humiliate establishment Republicans on the road to the White House.

With regard to McCain in particular, Trump would belittle not only a military service record colored by wartime imprisonment, but a political service record as well, calling the elder statesman a “loser” and a disappointment to the Republican Party in the same breath.

“I supported him for president,” Trump said. “I raised a million dollars for the guy — that’s a lot of money. I supported him, he lost, he let us down. He lost, so I never liked him as much after that. I don’t like losers.”

Like it or not, Trump was right.

Just look to McCain’s futile 2009 plea for bipartisanship, as then-President Obama sought to ram an unpopular Affordable Care Act through Congress.

Heck, look at McCain’s response when that embarrassing plea was met with a very public slap in the face from Obama, who bluntly pointed to his mandate, saying, “We’re not campaigning anymore. The election is over.”

The man simply laughed and said, “I’m reminded of that every day” — unconcerned with fighting in defense of his values if it meant tarnishing his image as a courtly statesman.

And if the McCain family is willing to go a step further and support the opposition in defense of that image, perhaps they never had any conservative values to begin with.

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