McCain’s funeral was not 'bipartisan'


There was one significant absentee from the funeral of Sen. John McCain. The President of the United States of America was flying off to play golf. Most of the liberal media were quick to point this out, just as they seized on the barely veiled attacks of Trump delivered by those who eulogized McCain. Instead they gloried in the “bipartisan” moment, which brought together all McCain’s other political opponents to honor his memory.

This emotional, high-profile send-off for a man who served his country, first in war and then in politics, was however troubling. McCain, who died of a brain tumor, had spent the last weeks of his life organizing his funeral down to the very last detail. And one big detail, arguably the most important, was that Donald Trump should not be invited.

It would not have been uncharacteristic of the president to have tried to attend had he wished. But there were probably two good reasons why he made no such attempt. The first was that even if, after the inevitable row with the McCain family and accompanying media storm, Trump had taken his place among the mourners, he would have had to sit through all the personal attacks that would be an inevitable part of the funeral. The cameras of the world’s media would have focused on his features during every subtle insult and accusation. The second good reason was that Trump, who made no secret of his animosity for McCain, probably felt that being present would have been an act of considerable hypocrisy.

So he left the representation of the White House to his chief of staff John Kelly and national security adviser John Bolton, who were joined by his daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner. It was, however, clear from media images that some of the “bipartisan” mourners went out of their way to avoid this White House contingent, much as they would doubtless have snubbed the President of the United States had he also been there.

One way of looking at the McCain funeral was that it provided the first opportunity for the political establishment on Capitol Hill to unite in their opposition for Trump. And their sonorous description of their coming together as “bipartisan” deserves some analysis. On the basis that Congressional politics has become polarized to the extent that legislators are actually prepared to jeopardize the solvency of their country by refusing to pass a budget because of some other political disagreement, then standing side by side at the funeral of one of their number was indeed “bipartisan”. But who in their right minds imagines McCain’s death has brought an end of this unseemly and demeaning rivalry?

However, the members of the Washington elite, including the insidious and powerful lobby groups, share a ‘partisan’ interest in the control of the levers of power, levers which were to a degree wrested away from them by the election of Donald Trump, whom voters backed because he promised to drain the Washington swamp.

McCain’s carefully designed funeral was not in fact a “bipartisan” event but rather an occasion at which he, as a leading member of the elite, could help it demonstrate its partisan scorn for the majority decision of voters and its disdain for the office of the president of the United States of America.