Don’t Settle Scores At Funerals
How did we get here, I wondered, as I watched John McCain's funeral over the weekend.
How did we get to a place where an American hero is laid to rest, yet the focus is not on him but on his political enemy?
In a piece headlined, “John McCain’s Funeral Was the Biggest Resistance Meeting Yet,” The New Yorker’s Susan B. Glasser characterized the McCain rites this way:
“Donald Trump’s name was never mentioned. It didn’t have to be. The funeral service for John Sidney McCain III, at the Washington National Cathedral, on this swampy Saturday morning, was all about a rebuke to the pointedly uninvited current President of the United States, which was exactly how McCain had planned it.
"Of course, there were fulsome tributes to Senator McCain’s bravery and courage and public service, stark reminders of the torture he endured as a prisoner of war, and of the policies he fought for (and against) in his many decades as a Republican politician from Arizona. But McCain knew that would not be the headline from the grand service, whose many details he personally oversaw. This was to be no mere laying to rest of a Washington wise man, nor just another funeral of an elder statesman whose passing would be marked by flowery words about the end of an era. It was a meeting of the Resistance, under vaulted ceilings and stained-glass windows.”
Glasser cheered the snide undercurrent of bitterness that ran through Saturday's eulogies. I didn't.
Look, we all know Trump brought this on himself. His remarks about John McCain’s war record during the presidential campaign were unfathomably nasty. Especially given his own lack of military service.
But the dislike these two men had for each other was deep and mutual. Anyone who believes McCain was incapable of holding a grudge doesn’t know much about the late senator.
Consequently, his funeral offered an irresistible opportunity for Democrats and Republicans who loathe the president to vent their bile at the inhabitant of the White House while praising McCain.
It was jarring.
On top of that, the week-long journey from Arizona to the Naval Academy seemed endless. And I say that as someone who admired McCain, voted for him and believe him to be a patriot.
Consider this: President John F. Kennedy was assassinated shortly after noon on Friday, the 22nd of November 1963.
The country was reeling, yet Kennedy was laid to rest three days later - on Monday the 25th - with funeral rites so breathtakingly dignified and somber that film clips of the cortege and the service still move viewers to tears.
Sadly, the McCain funeral will long be remembered not for its soaring tributes to a war hero, but for its score settling.