‘I think this man could walk across the Hudson River and the New York Times would say Donald Trump can’t swim…’
(Ben Sellers, Liberty Headlines) If President Donald Trump’s motives in posting tributes to late Sen. John McCain, a former GOP political adversary, were to draw more press attacks on himself, he certainly succeeded.
Trump, like many others, honored McCain after his passing on Saturday with posts on Twitter and Instagram that offered his condolences:
However, echoing a recent statement Trump made honoring singer Aretha Franklin, media outlets like CNN wasted no time in turning a critique of the president’s tributes into the main story.
On his Instagram post, Trump used a template that he frequently uses on the picture-based platform, in which a statement in quotation marks is accompanied by a candid photo of himself.
As the statement was the exact same one issued on Trump’s go-to platform, Twitter, it seems unlikely that he personally oversaw the Instagram post.
Still, several media outlets were among the chorus of naysayers bashing him for including a photo of himself and not McCain, and “questioning the President’s motives for omitting the Senator,” according to CNN.
With a busy slate of developing global events to attend to—including those in North Korea, Syria and Mexico, plus the sideshow controversies of the Mueller investigation being ginned up by his domestic opponents—Trump probably put little thought at all into recognizing the mercurial McCain, who had referred to him as a “reality show facsimile” of a president and personally made sure to bar him from attending the funeral.
Out of respect for the Bush family, Trump previously skipped the funeral of Barbara Bush in April.
Trump’s predecessor, President Barack Obama, likewise drew criticism for snubbing the funerals of right-wing icons such as Nancy Reagan and Antonin Scalia.
In his 417 word tribute to Scalia (in which he also announced his intentions to replace the late Supreme Court justice), the notoriously solipsistic Obama logged nine instances of personal pronoun use (I, me, we) with little fanfare from the media.
Obama later went on to make crass jokes about replacing Scalia.
By contrast, Trump fired an aide who joked about the dying McCain, although the White House declined the media outcry to apologize for the remark.
Notwithstanding the defenses of Trump’s ‘motives’ or past precedent for holding back on McCain, the simple fact remains that it was a no-win situation for the president.
Were Trump suddenly to have jumped on the McCain bandwagon, as a disconcerting number of left-wingers did, he would, no doubt, have been accused of appropriating McCain’s image.
Borrowing a famous quotation from Lyndon Johnson about media spin and bias, in an interview with Bill O’Reilly on Fox News that aired a month before the inauguration, former Gov. Mike Huckabee rightly assessed the Trump paradox:
“I think this man could walk across the Hudson River and the New York Times would say Donald Trump can’t swim. That’s how bad it is.”