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Assault on America, Day 82: Why the name McCain always starts a brawl in Trump’s GOP

Trump and John McCain
It’s often said nations go wrong by fighting the last war and you could make a good argument that “fighting the last campaign” is precisely how the Republican Party is veering off course these days.

Instead of fully embracing what is a historic opportunity to rally around President Donald Trump’s winning “Make America Great Again” agenda, some Republicans appear preoccupied with dredging up old petty fights and ripping scabs off of freshly healed wounds.

Case in point was last week’s intra-party spat over the memory and legacy of the late Senator John McCain. The 2008 Republican presidential nominee succumbed to brain cancer last August, generating a sizeable flood of sympathy and flattering remembrances and tributes -- but also spurring invective towards Trump from the president’s political enemies who can’t/won’t get over the back-and-forth pissing match between the Arizona senator and the would-be 2016 GOP nominee during the topsy-turvy campaign.  

For those with short memories, McCain was a willing participant in the savagery, gleefully criticizing Trump, handing the dirty and fake Steele dossier to the corrupt Obama FBI and then spitefully excluding him from the national mourning services which the dying man planned himself. McCain’s funeral was a virtual sideshow with funny and poignant stories of the longtime Navy-man, Vietnam prisoner and Grand Canyon State politician mixed with poorly disguised barbs and nastiness directed at the absent Trump.

The president is far from an innocent bystander in all of this, frequently invoking McCain’s name while making larger points about the differences between the two men’s foreign policy (actually, the disagreements were over more than just one issue) views. Many saw Trump’s kicking dirt on the American hero’s grave as poor professional decorum and wholly unnecessary.

Some of them spoke out last week. Diana Stancy Correll reported at The Washington Examiner, “Republican Rep. Chip Roy of Texas criticized President Trump this week for criticizing the late Sen. John McCain as he toured a tank manufacturing plant.

“’I disagree with the POTUS standing in front of M1A1 Abram tanks & the American flag and spending time trashing POW veteran and former US Senator McCain, and as Commander-in-Chief characterizing our time fighting in the Middle East as an unqualified disaster,’ Roy, a freshman House lawmaker, tweeted late Wednesday.

“While Roy said he disagreed with McCain on many issues and said U.S. strategy in the Middle East should be reconsidered, he claimed ‘words matter to the heroes who have bled the ground red and accomplished much in the process.’”

Roy further explained (via social media) how he supports Trump on securing the border, draining the swamp, restoring fiscal sanity, and establishing healthcare freedom but sees looking backward as counter-productive to these goals. Meanwhile, Georgia Republican Senator Sen. Johnny Isakson also publicly censured Trump, remarking the president’s comments on McCain were “deplorable.” You can’t make this stuff up.

Both Roy and Isakson were reacting to tweets and comments Trump offered about McCain. The always-hungry-for-Trump-dirt establishment media quickly seized on the story, just like they do anytime a Republican says something disapproving about the party leader. If a GOPer wants a microphone and a “breaking news” revelation on a mainstream cable news channel, all he or she needs to do is spread muck on Trump and they’ll get it.

If you don’t believe it, ask Mitt Romney. The famous flip-flopper’s engendered a political second-life out of his on-again-off-again relationship with Trump. Can’t Mitt ever make up his mind? Like Trump, Romney didn’t care much for McCain either… would he ever speak out?

While Trump’s comments were perhaps ill-timed and in poor taste, what’s going on here is really just a flare-up of the greater battle within the Grand Old Party for control of its message and policy direction. The same ruling class that lost control of the party during 2016’s primary and general election campaigns remains frustrated at its inability to touch Trump’s sway with the base now. Like a dormant case of herpes just itching to return to the surface, mention the word “McCain” and the elites buzz as worker bees hovering around a hive.

Are these people really that upset about McCain’s posthumous reputation or is there something deeper at work here? Roy, who is certainly no wishy-washy RINO squish, took particular exception to Trump’s jabs at Bush-era neoconservative foreign policy and the Iraq War as though the commander-in-chief dishonored the contributions of fighting men and women who struggled, bled and died on the sands of the Middle East.

That’s definitely not the case. Trump has little to gain by dredging up McCain’s name over a half year separated from the man’s burial. Trump’s goal is to strengthen the U.S. military with additional money and equipment (hence, the visit to an Ohio tank factory) but he also hopes to hammer home the point that the added muscle won’t to be squandered the way it was by Republicans with McCain’s knee-jerk hawkish instincts.

Trump said, “We're in a war in the Middle East that McCain pushed so hard. He was calling Bush, President Bush all the time — ‘get into the Middle East, get into the Middle East’ — and so now we are into that war $7 trillion, thousands and thousands of our people have been killed, millions of people overall… And frankly we are straightening it out now, but it has been a disaster for our country. we've spent tremendous wealth and tremendous lives in that war and what do we have? It's worse than it was 19 years ago. I call them the endless wars. John McCain loved it.”

Alas, more Trumpian elaboration on the mess the Bush presidents (with help from the Cheneys and McCains of the world) created and perpetuated in the Middle East. Trump’s opposition to the way things were always done in Republican-land differed markedly from practically every one of his 2016 party opponents, save for Senator Rand Paul (who continues to go it mostly alone on non-interventionist philosophy) and Senator Ted Cruz, the other “outsider” who didn’t just rubber-stamp the poohbahs’ conventional wisdom of fight everywhere, all-the-time.

Apparently GOP elites still haven’t received the message their side lost in 2016 (it’s a similar kind of denial to the Democrats’ residual whining over Russian collusion and Hillary Clinton), and a major reason grassroots conservative voters were drawn to Trump and Cruz was their willingness to diss the disastrous globalist democracy-promoting dogma of the ruling class swamp dwellers (or as Pat Buchanan calls them, the “War Party”). These rich-man’s-war-poor-man’s-fight rulers were more than happy to send American forces into near-impossible situations and expect them to prevail without a mandate to win.

U.S. military members are terrific at what they’re assigned to do -- but don’t expect soldiers and sailors to win hearts and minds by handing out food boxes and building schools and roads. They aren’t politicians. Trump understands this; McCain didn’t.

It also shouldn’t be forgotten how Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio (among others) took issue with Trump’s characterization of McCain way back in 2015, clearly setting distinction points Trump would later exploit in the campaign. Fair or not, Jeb essentially ran on the Bush family’s foreign policy record, one that was roundly rejected as costly and ineffective in today’s world. The Bushes weren’t solely responsible for all the money spent and lives lost in the Middle East, but Trump has a point about how devastating it would be to return to those policies.

Deep down, McCain isn’t at issue in this current battle -- he’s long past his ability to influence the future. Trump wants to move on from the past…and McCain’s ghost still represents the old guard. Those who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan aren’t being desecrated. Far from it. Trump was merely indicating the prior mistakes won’t be repeated.

Trump’s done with fighting past wars. Isn’t it something we should celebrate?

The late John McCain continues to be a lightning rod in today’s volatile GOP intra-party climate. Even after death McCain represents a way of thinking that’s no longer compatible with the new direction of the swamp-battling Donald Trump. Perhaps it’s time we all realized it.

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The McCain name. . .

The records speak for themselves, Jr. was an egotistical, evil, over-privleged wimp of a man who did everything in his power to destroy the McCain name. Daddy pulled every string he could reach to keep Jr. out of the brig. Jr. had no love of country, only love of himself. Of the entire family, the only person I feel sorry for is Meghan who must try to protect her father/grandfather.