I despise Meghan McCain’s smug, shallow millennial-con shtick. But that doesn’t mean I was unable to appreciate the spectacle of Ms. McCain shitting all over Trump while eulogizing her father and hurling a MAGA-mocking cow-pie right in the faces of funeral crashers Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump this weekend.
That’s not a universally held opinion, if my Twitter feed is any indication. Some folks are insinuating that those who relished Ms. McCain’s denunciation of Trump are in effect enrolling her in the Resistance.
Another flashpoint: TV cameras caught George W. Bush passing a piece of candy to Michelle Obama, and people thought that was cute:
George Bush sneaking Michelle Obama some candy during John McCain's funeral might be the video that saves the Republic pic.twitter.com/GvQscSvO5y
— Robert Maguire (@RobertMaguire_) September 2, 2018
Not everybody, though:
The cute passing of candy to Michelle would be enough to make me forgive the network of secret torture sites, lawless surveillance, and letting bin Laden get away but the unnecessary war that destabilized the region for a generation + collapse of world economy is still too much.
— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) September 2, 2018
Okay, fair enough. Here’s another take on the significance of it all — that it wasn’t significant at all, actually:
12. The message of the funeral was "once we get rid of Trump, the grown-ups can take over again." Sorry, won't work. You had your chance and you muffed it.
— Jeet Heer (@HeerJeet) September 2, 2018
I get that point of view and largely agree with it. The funeral attendees included a rogue’s gallery of Republican villains, and it was in no way a civic turning point as some folks, like The New Yorker’s Susan Glasser, have suggested.
But McCain’s giant “fuck you” from beyond the grave to the president of his own party wasn’t nothing either. What it does is raise questions.
Are we supposed to make common cause with the Republicans who bother to object to Trump’s authoritarian impulses? Should Never-Trump Republicans get credit for opposing Trump, even if they are amoral assholes in their own right, who materially contributed to Trump’s rise?
Maybe it depends on how one classifies Trump. Is he a worse president than George W. Bush? I think so, but you can certainly make a solid case that Bush was worse on body count alone.
Bush was a terrible president. His appreciation for the fabulous Michelle Obama notwithstanding, there’s plenty of evidence he is a shitty person too. Like every Republican president in my lifetime, he at least cynically used his party’s racism, homophobia, gun fixation and fetus fetish to improve his political prospects, even if he’s not an overt racist, homophobe, ammosexual or enemy of reproductive freedom personally.
During Bush’s terrible administration, I worried about many things, including the lives of loved ones caught up in the senseless, ruinous, deadly war he lied to start. I worried about my personal financial future and the country’s economic stability due to the worldwide financial meltdown Bush and his gang of greedy shitheads precipitated. I worried about gay rights, women’s rights and gun safety.
But I never worried about George W. Bush being a foreign autocrat’s stooge. I never worried about him calling in a preemptive nuclear strike on his sole authority as a response to a personal grievance. He didn’t lead mobs baying for the incarceration of the other party’s nominee. He didn’t encourage the mob-harassment of reporters. He didn’t baldly assert that a domestic revolt by sore winners would result in violence, chaos and ruin if his party lost control of a chamber during an election.
So yeah, the Republican Party hatched Trump under the heat lamp of its racism, misogyny, homophobia and xenophobia. And without exception, its elected members are too goddamned spineless to stand up to the monster they helped create. The Republican Party’s utter defeat is the only remedy to our current woes. I don’t think any sensible Democrat is disputing that.
But I don’t think it’s wrong to see a glimmer of hope in key figures in the political establishment coming together around McCain and pointedly excluding Trump — otherizing Marmalade Mugabe. And I don’t think it’s wrong to hope McCain’s massive and posthumous “fuck you” to Trump wasn’t completely in vain.
If our democracy survives this crisis, I’ll remember who was for America, and the list will include people I don’t like or agree with. I don’t think that’s the same as losing sight of who they are.
It’s more like triaging marauding dragons to be slain (metaphorically, of course). Let’s focus on the big, hideous orange one first.