Because Donald Trump is very stupid and very bored, he’s spent the last week re-litigating his feud with former Sen. John McCain, a man who died in August 2018. Now, McCain—or at least, his representative on Earth—is FIGHTING BACK, and yes, it’s making this whole thing even dumber.
At a rally at a tank factory in Lima, OH, on Wednesday, Trump went into an extended riff about all of the times McCain has wronged him, including when he gave the Steele dossier to the FBI (“Not the nicest thing to do,” Trump whined) and when McCain ultra-dramatically voted against the Senate’s attempted repeal of the Affordable Care Act in 2017 (“We said, ‘What the hell happened?’”).
Then, Trump whined about not getting a thank you from the dead man or his family for “approving” McCain’s funeral. “I gave him the kind of funeral that he wanted, which as president I had to approve,” Trump said. “I don’t care about this. I didn’t get a thank you. That’s OK. We sent him on the way, but I wasn’t a fan of John McCain.”
Let me be the first to say: Thank you, sir.
Anyway, all of this appears to have been the last straw for the McCain Institute, the D.C.-based think tank named for the longtime senator. On Wednesday, the organization put out a “fact sheet” about McCain that responds to several Trump attacks without mentioning him, and reads like something a candidate for office would put out after being attacked by an opponent. (McCain, to be clear, is not running for office. Because he’s dead.)
For example, there’s a whole section about McCain’s support for the Iraq War which attempts to spread the blame around, after Trump called McCain out a day after the sixteenth anniversary of the war. “We’re in a war that McCain pushed for so hard,” Trump said. “We’re straightening it out, but it’s been a disaster.”
The McCain Institute’s response:
After the attacks of 9/11, John McCain supported President Bush in launching the Iraq War in 2003, along with the vast majority of U.S. Senators and Congressmen.
John McCain quickly became a critic of the Administration’s handling of the war, however, on everything from ensuring we had adequate troops on the ground, to working with Allies, to calling out and condemning torture.
John McCain supported President Bush’s decision to launch a surge in Iraq when most other politicians and commentators were against. The surge helped bring the Sunnis in Iraq into the government, paving the way for the more stable Iraq we have today.
John McCain opposed the early withdrawal from Iraq – which led to the growth of ISIS – and supported early intervention in Syria, which would have prevented the spread of ISIS.
Very cool! This week out of any seems to be the perfect time to defend the namesake of your organization’s involvement in one of the largest disasters in the history of American foreign policy.
Somewhat hilariously, the McCain Institute, even while defending McCain and very pointedly not mentioning Trump by name, adopts his framing:
John McCain and Campaign Finance Reform (“Draining the Swamp”)
John McCain was the original “drain the swamp” Senator. He was deeply concerned about the influence of money in politics and sponsored legislation seeking to limit that direct influence.
I don’t want to be the one to put words in Trump’s mouth, but I’m pretty sure that his version of “drain the swamp” was less “campaign finance reform” and more “removing power from all of the people my fans think are reptiles wearing human skin.” The entire Trump administration is a nakedly corrupt enterprise.
Either way, this is a bit of a stretch: while McCain did partner with Russ Feingold to author a sweeping campaign finance reform law, this only came after the Keating Five scandal, which very nearly killed McCain’s political career.
Finally, the Institute tries to correct the record on one of the only good things McCain ever did in the Senate, his vote against the repeal of Obamacare. Lest you think he did it for the right reasons (millions of people losing health insurance), though, the McCain Institute reminds us that McCain ultimately voted against the bill because the GOP couldn’t agree on a replacement and—here’s the kicker—because McCain wanted the bill to go “through the ‘regular order’ in the Senate, to make sure it was well thought out and supported, rather than through a lateral move outside the regular order.”
My Senate procedure!!
The McCain Institute would have been much better off dropping a one-line response to Trump saying something along the lines of, “He’s dead, what do you want him to say?” Instead, we got this. Great job, team. Trump is sure to leave the dead man alone now.