Another day, another Shakespearean echo from the angry mouth of Our Mad King. (Read Monday’s ode to King Lear here.)
Today’s production of “Hamlet” is a one-man show. President Trump plays every role with a cameo by The Ghost of John McCain.
Trump kept up his sick, senseless desecration of McCain’s memory on Wednesday, telling workers at an Ohio tank factory that he “never really liked” the war hero and pillar of the Senate. Trump’s entire speech was a word salad dressed with bitterness and self-pity, but the five minutes he spent trashing McCain were especially hard to swallow.
As usual, Trump blamed his failure to “repeal and replace” Obamacare on McCain, who cast the deciding vote. What Trump counts as an unforgivable betrayal was actually one of McCain’s greatest displays of leadership. He went against his party for the good of the country. McCain opposed Obamacare, but wouldn’t repeal it without a replacement. That’s on Trump, who promised “wonderful health care for everyone,” but didn’t bother to actually come up with a plan.
Trump also whined about the Steele Dossier. He claims McCain — in cahoots with Crooked Hillary — slipped the dossier to the Justice Department to destroy Trump and his presidential campaign. Conservative media outlets are pumping this story and others designed to discredit the dossier and plant the idea that it was the primary spark of Special Counsel Robert Mueller‘s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
None of that is true, but what if it was? What matters is the veracity of the dossier’s contents, not how it got to Justice. Whether anything in it is true has yet to be seen, but Trump is spending oodles of “executive time” and energy trying to convince us it’s a pack of lies. Maybe it is, but Trump looks la lot like a desperate general firing artillery to soften the battlefield before the real combat starts.
The president doth protest too much, methinks.
Back to John McCain, who actually went to war for his country and spent a lifetime gracefully suffering the consequences. How dare he die without bowing before King Trump, a shameless draft-dodger who acts like America exists to serve him. McCain died in August. He and his family banned Trump from the funeral, but asked the president to approve family transportation on federal aircraft. Trump honored the request and dishonored it in his public pity party on Wednesday.
“I gave (McCain) the kind of funeral that he wanted, which as president I had to approve,” Trump sniffed to a silent, likely dumbfounded audience. “I don’t care about this, I didn’t get a thank you. That’s OK.”
So “OK” Trump just had to bring it up. Trump “gave” McCain his dream funeral. Wow. Just. Wow. Even ardent Trumpers in right-wing media scratched their heads and said, “What was this guy thinking?”
He was thinking about the end, just like Hamlet as he sits in the graveyard cradling the skull of poor Yorick. Studying the empty eye sockets of a beloved jester from his youth, Hamlet broods over the hardest truth of life: One day, we all will die.
Trump is 72 years old, overweight, overwhelmed and trapped in a job that famously and ferociously ages its holders. The presidency he never truly wanted is ruining what’s left of his life. But why take it out on a revered war hero and American statesman who died seven months ago? Why is Trump so haunted by The Ghost of John McCain?
Because John McCain was and is everything Donald Trump is not and will never be. No one is more painfully aware of that than the Mad King Himself.