I’m slightly embarrassed that I don’t tweet. But I do read tweets on the web when the news leads me to them. So I hadn’t immediately seen President Trump’s tweet of July 25 calling Sen. John McCain a “brave American hero” and expressing his appreciation and gratitude that McCain “is coming back to vote” on the health care bills.
And now that I have seen it, it is hilarious and ironic on several levels. Of course, McCain ended up casting the deciding vote against the bill. (I accept the argument that Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, the other two Republicans who vote nay, deserve at least as much and perhaps more credit for preventing the bill’s passage. But because of the way drama works, McCain’s last-minute announcement of his opposition, plus coming after he came back to Washington from brain cancer surgery, is the one that will be remembered when the tale is told.)
To his slight credit, Trump has not deleted the tweet, at least as of this writing. If the current incumbent were a more honest man, or at least a more principled and consistent one, he would be thanking McCain even after the vote, since McCain’s vote sank a bill that would have violated Trump’s campaign promise to push through a health insurance plan that would “take care of everybody.” Dream on, right?
But what cracked me up about Trump’s McCain-honoring tweet was the bit about calling McCain a “brave American hero.”
Because another thing that Trump said during the campaign was that McCain wasn’t much of a hero “because he was captured.” Perhaps in the Trumpian mind, one can belittle a man’s heroism when one is annoyed by something, and then call him a “brave American hero” when one wants something from him, and expect the hero in question to be flattered.
McCain may or may not be asked about the president’s latest upgraded views on whether McCain was a hero. And he might or might not express his true feelings about it. (I would be interested to hear what he would say.) But it does seem clear that the president’s understanding of human psychology failed him if he thought that anything he said about McCain’s war record might butter up the senator for the big vote.