Published 7:57 AM EDT Mar 21, 2019
One … solitary … vote.
Switch it from thumbs down to thumbs up and everything changes.
Thumbs up and President Donald Trump isn't spitting on the grave of John McCain.
Thumbs up and the earnest media isn't defending McCain's honor.
History turned on an axis in the early hours of July 28, 2017, when McCain approached the Senate clerk and voted against his party — a thumbs down to Obamacare repeal.
Had it gone the other way, Trump would not be expectorating. He'd be repairing the McCain image.
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Because if McCain had voted to repeal Obamacare, the left would have savaged him two years ago and framed the McCain legacy in the worst possible light.
How do I know?
Because liberals had started to waste John McCain, not when he was deceased, but when he was merely cancer stricken and facing the prospect of imminent death.
You think McCain didn't know who they were? He did.
The Democrats and their media mouthpieces revealed themselves explicitly in the days before thumbs-down when they misread a couple of procedural votes and believed McCain would repeal Obamacare.
That John McCain wasn’t a war hero and maverick. He was was a war-monger and fat cat who cared nothing for the poor. He had his solid-gold health plan. The poor could take an aspirin.
Liberals reamed McCain before the vote
Here's how The New York Times columnist Paul Krugman put it:
"... can we take a moment to consider the awfulness of Senator John McCain?
"In case you haven’t been following the story, what has been going on in the Senate these past few days is one of the most shameful episodes in that body’s history."
James Fallows, wrote in The Atlantic that McCain would be remembered for "steering American politics down the path that led to Donald Trump by choosing Sarah Palin as his running mate."
The Los Angeles Times editorialized:
"It’s hard to ignore the irony of Sen. John McCain returning to Washington from cranial surgery at the Mayo Clinic just to keep alive a bill that would make health insurance unaffordable to millions of Americans."
Adam H. Johnson of the hyper-left Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, used an op-ed in The Los Angeles Times to remind readers in the middle of a health care debate that McCain is "a reliable partisan conservative who loves war … (has) never met a war he didn't like … advocated for an Iraq invasion that caused 500,000 to 1 million deaths … (and) selectively cares about 'human rights' when it permits him to lay the groundwork for U.S. aggression."
A day later McCain voted their way to preserve Obamacare.
As that American woman of letters Emily Litella once observed, "That's very different. Never mind.”
Defending him now is a waste of speech
Now the left champions John McCain.
Ana Navarro, a formerly closeted liberal who used to masquerade as a Republican, said,
"I don't care if you like John McCain or couldn't stand (him.) (Trump) is attacking a dead national hero and that's plain disgusting. It is abominable ... inhumane ... indecent ... immoral and everybody should condemn it."
You know what's abominable? Wasting the CO2 that produces articulate speech on that. Trump isn't worth two seconds of rebuttal.
More: What I learned about John McCain during 20 years covering him
Has anyone noticed our president is a blowhard? That he doesn’t value truth or consistency or the niceties of high office? He doesn't play by convention. He's there to destroy it.
Have you noticed the vapid tweets and playground put-downs? That Trump is apt to lie not daily, but on the hour?
Who cares what Trump says about McCain?
It means nothing.
Trump's words have no meaning
CNN's Chris Cillizza assures us Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Millard Fillmore and Franklin Pierce would never have said what Trump said of McCain.
And had they said it after the passing of a national hero, the earth would have shook. Because back then a president's words held weight. They meant something. Trump's words don't.
Our Western allies finally figured this out. It took them a year, but they learned they could stop striking a match to themselves every time the president fired off a tweet.
The spoken word in the Trump White House is a spent vehicle for moving ideas and promoting policies. He drove it into the ditch.
When Trump speaks ill of McCain, you don't need a rebuttal. You don't need a sermon.
Five words will suffice.
"Thank you for your input."
Phil Boas is editorial page editor of The Arizona Republic, where this column first appeared. You can follow him on Twitter: @boas_phil.