Donald Trump is a fucking baby. Actually, strike that. Babies don't know any better -- Trump does. Due to a series of pervasive glitches in Trump's personality, he thinks he's punishing John McCain and McCain's family by, until just now, refusing to offer anything more than a boilerplate tweet regarding McCain's legacy and passing. As of this writing, nearly 48 hours since the announcement of McCain's death, Trump finally and begrudgingly issued an official White House statement (longer than 240 characters) honoring the late senator, presidential candidate and prisoner-of-war.
We're supposed to applaud the president for this too-little-too-late statement? Not a chance in hell.
It's bad enough that Trump relentlessly mocked John McCain's famous thumbs-down vote on the so-called "skinny repeal" of the Affordable Care Act, even while McCain marched bravely through a terminal glioblastoma diagnosis. Then, after the announcement Saturday night, Trump could barely bring himself to tweet a few stock words about McCain.
Making matters worse, on Monday morning the White House flag was prematurely returned to full mast, as if nothing happened. Later, Trump ignored repeated questions from ABC News reporter Jonathan Karl about the president's thoughts on McCain's passing. Like the petty, cowardly little man he is, Trump refused to even acknowledge Karl's questions. Instead, Trump stared blankly into space with his clown makeup and his hands positioned in the usual "dick tent" formation.
After this pathetic yet revealing display of predictable childishness and small-man vindictiveness, the president finally ordered the flag lowered to half mast again, then issued a written statement about McCain -- a statement clearly not written by Trump himself, even though presidents often take the time to author their own memorials for higher-profile fallen American leaders. Had there not been pressure applied to Trump along these lines, he might never have said or done anything. Hell, without his staffers, it's unlikely Trump would've even tweeted about McCain. Indeed, it's likely his staffers took the initiative themselves to re-lower the flag and issue a statement, despite Trump's bitchy little silent tantrum. We've seen this happen quite often -- while Trump's off tilting at Fox News windmills, his staff and cabinet officers, especially those heading the 17 intelligence agencies, often proceed without their chief executive's go-ahead, busily doing the real work of government when necessary. They have to because Trump exists in a fantasy world -- a Mobius loop of his own bullshit and whiny peevishness. The only way I can explain the devotion of so many Americans to a tiny, cheap, unethical man-baby is the fact that perhaps millions of our fellow Americans like to have their own worst qualities reflected back at them from a position of power and strength. If the president's a dick, too, then it must be okay for me to have been a dick all these years. Many of the Red Hats, believe it or not, are seemingly good people with brains in their heads, and yet they're eager to worship at the altar of a character whose personality represents all that is loathsome in humanity -- behaviors we've (hopefully) been taught since infancy are undesirable and cruel. Instead, Trump normalizes these behaviors, offering tacit permission for millions upon millions of our fellow citizens to follow suit. When we talk about the damage Trump's creating, it's about the demolishing of institutions and presidential traditions, but more importantly, Trump's snotty, callow comportment is manufacturing entire generations of Americans who falsely believe this is legitimate conduct for the alleged leader of the free world. It's not. Or, at least, it shouldn't be. Not here. But as this crisis develops, Trump's toxicity is infecting more and more of his disciples, potentially leading to a skewed future in which American voters will welcome an entire series of third-world style strong men occupying the Oval Office. Worse, such leaders could reflect the attitudes of at least a plurality of voters. This is one of the myriad reasons why Trumpism needs to be humiliated out of existence before it metastasizes. Trump will never understand men like John McCain, nor will Trump's loyalists. To them, McCain's belief in honor, duty and country -- the very notion of strength-of-character -- are as foreign as the immigrants the Trumpers are busily hectoring and exiling from the land of the free. Until a couple years ago, I never quite realized how many seemingly decent people are in reality just as petty and small as Trump. But I know one thing: it's impossible for such people to be great, nor is it possible for them to make America great, chiefly because it requires greatness to do so. McCain strove for greatness and often achieved it. Trump -- never.