I’ll admit there are times when I wish President Trump would go take a long, hot bath before hitting “Send” on his Twitter tweets. But I would contend that the accusation that he, personally, is responsible for the coarsening of political discourse conveniently overlooks an awful lot of nasty rhetoric that was flying long before he ever came down the escalator at Trump Tower, descending, appropriately enough, into the world of politics.
We got an ugly reminder of the crassness of Trump’s critics, and the political world in general last week, when funerals for Sen. John McCain and Aretha Franklin were marred by anti-Trump political slams during what were supposed to be eulogies, and the media used their fulsome praise for McCain as a thinly-veiled excuse to make negative references to Trump. This was especially rich considering they were the very same media outlets that attacked and slandered McCain back in 2008, when it was necessary to help elect Obama.
It’s no secret that there was bad blood between Trump and McCain, but where I come from, when someone dies, you put aside the squabbles of this world, comport yourself like an adult, and focus on more important things. Even though Trump is constantly attacked for being vulgar, pugnacious, inappropriate or unpresidential, last week, he came across like a cross between Winston Churchill and Emily Post compared to his critics.
While the anti-Trump brigades were politicizing the funerals, disrespectfully using them as excuses to bash Trump, Trump issued dignified condolence messages to both families. When he was attacked because the half-staff flag for McCain was raised in accordance with the policy for all deceased Senators (something Trump had nothing to do with), he ordered that it remain at half-staff until after the memorial service. He even arranged for military transportation and escorts and the use of Air Force Two to transport McCain’s body for burial.
And after he was assailed in subtle and not-so-subtle ways in the funeral speeches, instead of punching back point-by-point, he simply tweeted, “Make America Great Again!”
John Nolte at Breitbart had a similar take that’s well worth reading. He notes that the McCain and Franklin funerals should have been unifying events, moments in which we set our differences aside and, to quote Meghan McCain, gather to “mourn the passing of American greatness.” Instead, Nolte writes, “we watched those who piously lecture the rest of us about decency, decorum, and civility” drop their pants and spew divisive, partisan rhetoric at “the most inappropriate venue imaginable: a funeral.”
Trump didn’t force them to act like that. He actually looked like the restrained, well-mannered adult compared to them. To those speaking at the funerals and the reporters covering them, I have to ask this old Southern question: Didn’t your mamas raise you better than that?