Date
23 September 2018
The late US senator John McCain is remembered for his rock-solid integrity, genuine respect for his adversaries, his unwavering opposition to hate and his firm belief in country first, partisanship second. Photo: Reuters
The late US senator John McCain is remembered for his rock-solid integrity, genuine respect for his adversaries, his unwavering opposition to hate and his firm belief in country first, partisanship second. Photo: Reuters

After McCain, more volatility in US politics

Former US Vice President Joe Biden delivered a very moving eulogy at the memorial service in honor of the late Republican senator John McCain in Phoenix, Arizona.

Biden highly praised McCain for his rock-solid integrity, genuine respect for his adversaries, his unwavering opposition to hate and his firm belief in country first, partisanship second.

However, there are still some in Washington who apparently don’t think much of McCain and his personal qualities, chief among them is President Donald Trump.

It’s no secret that Trump hated McCain, and this feeling seems to have lingered even after the senator’s death.

On Aug. 25, when McCain passed away, the president only posted a very brief tweet on Twitter offering his condolences to the senator’s family, but didn’t issue any formal statement about his death.

Trump immediately came under fire not only from his fellow Republicans but from various quarters for his half-hearted and lackluster tribute to McCain.

Amid mounting criticism for his failure to adequately honor the senator’s passing, Trump eventually, and perhaps rather reluctantly, released another statement last Monday mourning McCain’s death and paying tribute to him for his lifelong service to his country.

Meanwhile, Trump also ordered the White House to lower its flags to half-staff in honor of McCain, but only for two days.

His action again drew fire from all sides. As a result, in a rather ridiculous way, Trump backed down under pressure for the second time within a week and ordered the flags in the White House to be re-lowered again until McCain’s burial.

The saga didn’t end there. Trump had announced in advance that he wouldn’t attend McCain’s funeral held last Saturday, but news later got out that the senator had actually left instructions prior to his death banning the president from his funeral.

The fact that Trump finally relented and agreed to appropriately honor McCain only amid public pressure indicates that he is still very much taking to heart the latter’s past criticism against him.

As John McCain was laid to rest at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, next to his late good friend Admiral Chuck Larson, there is a growing concern that his death might spell the end of the core values which he had been defending throughout his lifetime, i.e., respect for his political opponents and the eagerness to facilitate bipartisan cooperation in order to serve the best interests of his nation.

If that scenario really happens, one can probably expect even more volatility and confrontation not only in US politics, but also in global diplomacy in the coming days as well.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Sept 1

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Hong Kong Economic Journal

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