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On Trump’s self-obsessed McCain comments — and some unsubtle DCCC campaign tactics

The current incumbent in the Oval Office yesterday disgraced himself by attacking the late John McCain for among other things, not thanking Trump for letting him have the funeral he wanted.

I don’t know how much more self-obsessed you could be than that, but I suppose we’ll find out. Democrats are having a ball with this, while most Republicans are torn between expressing their outrage over Trump’s latest display of bad character, thin skin and self-obsession/self-pity, or remaining silent to avoid risking getting on the bad side of Trump or his minions. A few have chosen the former, most the latter.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is the arm of the party in charge of U.S. House races. Naturally, their propaganda arm tries to make Republican House incumbents look bad. Who can blame them? The tactics in pursuit of that objective are often not subtle and sometimes so unsubtle they cross the line into funny. Here’s a small case study.

Because I am on their mailing list, I got an email at 10:54 this a.m. from the DCCC headlined:

“As Trump spits on the grave of deceased war hero John McCain, Congressman Hagedorn remains silent. If this doesn’t warrant a statement from Hagedorn denouncing Trump’s behavior, what would?”

Hagedorn is U.S. Rep. Jim Hagedorn, Republican of Minnesota’s 1st Congressional District who, for obvious reasons, has chosen not to criticize President Trump over his tasteless and ludicrous attack on McCain and his grieving family.

(McCain is dead, so presumably it’s the McCain family whom Trump — ridiculously, especially considering the full body of Trump’s comments about McCain — blames for not thanking him enough for whatever small accommodation he may have granted in connection with the McCain funeral, to which he was notably not invited.)

The DCCC press release, with glee disguised as horror, issued a press release “singling out” Hagedorn for not repudiating Trump’s latest snitfit, thus:

On Wednesday, President Trump took his feud with Senator McCain to a new low, going on a five-minute rant where he complained about not being thanked enough for McCain’s funeral. Trump also claimed McCain “didn’t get the job done” for veterans and griped that he “never liked him much.” This is the same President Trump who previously said McCain was “not a war hero” and later ordered flags to full-mast shortly after McCain’s death (and later caved to the immense outrage of the public to again lower the flags to half-mast). 

Trump’s behavior is so shameful that even GOP Senators like Johnny Isakson spoke out against it – but not Congressman Hagedorn, whose silence is allowing the Republican Party to sink to new lows.

Senator John McCain was a decorated war hero and a man who people on both sides of the aisle respected deeply, regardless of whether they agreed with all of his policy positions,” said DCCC Executive Director and Iraq War Veteran Allison Jaslow. “At this point, it’s unsurprising that President Trump is spitting on Senator McCain’s grave, but it is mind blowing that Washington Republicans like Jim Hagedorn are staying silent and allowing this conduct unbecoming of a Commander in Chief to go on unchecked. Congressman Hagedorn’s refusal to categorically and forcefully reject this offensive and unpatriotic behavior from his President, demonstrates he is complicit in sinking the Republican Party to this new low.

Personally, I had already been through the full don’t-know-whether-to-laugh-cry-or-vomit cycle over the astonishing-but-no-longer-surprising depth of Trump’s capacity for self-obsession and self-pity as reflected in his whining about McCain’s posthumous ingratitude.

The DCCC press release was, to me, an obvious-bordering-on-laughable effort to twist the knife in the discomfort of Republicans trying to navigate life under Trump. My only thought on reading it was: Why are they picking on Hagedorn? Minnesota has three Republican congressmen, and none of them are particularly interested in satisfying the Democratic demand that they repudiate and denounce all the offensive things coming out the White House.

But, of course, no sooner did I have time to wonder that than, with a time stamp three minutes later than the one of the Hagedorn press release, I received another headlined:

As Trump spits on the grave of deceased war hero John McCain, NRCC Chairman Emmer remains silent. If this doesn’t warrant a statement from Emmer denouncing Trump’s behavior, what would?

U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer, as you know, is also a Republican congressman from Minnesota, although he also has the honor of currently chairing the National Republican Congressional Committee, which is the arm of that party in charge of U.S. House races.

I won’t waste any time wondering why the DCCC chose to target Hagedorn three minutes earlier than Emmer.

Please excuse the snotty tone of this post. Of course both parties do it, constantly, and it’s the world in which we live. But I occasionally dream of one in which the bushwa is a little more subtle.

Comments (13)

  1. Submitted by Pat Terry on 03/21/2019 - 08:35 pm.

    Wow, that is some serious both-sides-ism. Seriously, you really did some work to make that the story.

    You used to be a good journalist, Eric. What happened, man?

  2. Submitted by John Evans on 03/21/2019 - 10:49 pm.

    Eric, the press release says things that shouldn’t need to be said. It’s a tiresome subject; you’re tired of it and so is everyone else. But the DCCC has a point here. Why should Republicans in Congress get a free pass on this issue?

    If the shoe were on the other foot, the press would not allow any Democrat to avoid having to take a stand and make a clear statement denouncing a Democratic president’s unbelievably atrocious behavior.

    Incidentally, if you bother to really compare, you’ll notice that the last 3 Democratic presidents have been remarkably, unwaveringly courteous. Carter and Clinton were restrained and polite in their discourse. Reagan wasn’t always, but he could be charming enough that he got a lot of free passes. Bush 41 held his civility, though he was often quite sour.

    W’s frequent mean-spirited rudeness was shocking initially, even I think to his father. Regarding Obama, the right-wing had to actually make stuff up to be offended about. It’s clear that the press holds Democrats and Republicans to completely different behavioral standards.

    And that’s why there really is a need for unpleasant, boring press releases like this one. Sorry, bud.

  3. Submitted by Tom Christensen on 03/22/2019 - 07:41 am.

    Trump is obviously an narcissistic man who never intended to be president. He only wanted to gather in the massive attention he needs to feed his narcissism. Now, he is likely caught in a trap of his own doing. It appears he has lead a life filled with crime and criminals.
    What is causing Trump’s erratic behavior. Twenty nine tweets in one day, obsessing about an American hero who passed away months ago. Trump made himself a victim because he didn’t get a thank you from the McCain family for the funeral Trump approved. Being cornered is likely the cause of Trump’s behavior or another case of look over here so you don’t see what is going on over there. I suspect Trump’s lifetime of crime is about to come tumbling down. Trump couldn’t have surrounded himself with those already pleading guilty and he be crime free. Everyday it gets easier to connect the dots. Trump doesn’t have to connect the dots to figure out where all this will lead, as he knows the life he has led. Trump’s mode of operation is first to deny any accusation and demean the person who knows the truth or is close to the truth. In his current mental state, it may not bother him, but it appears he will be taking some of his children and a relative down with him. Every time you think Trump has hit bottom he finds a new bottom minutes later. There is not a shred of decency in Trump. Whether in office or out of office Trump will find a way to keep the spotlight on him and be as disruptive as possible to the political process. The only difference would be the Republicans in congress would be able to stop kissing up to Trump while shirking their duty. You’ll have to forgive the congressional Republicans as their comeback will be slow because they will need to find their spine again. As Trump would say SAD!

  4. Submitted by Jackson Cage on 03/22/2019 - 08:03 am.

    I would tie the line “The current incumbent in the Oval Office yesterday disgraced himself” right along with the current weather. You know, daily constants.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 03/22/2019 - 01:13 pm.

      More like “the sun appeared to follow the ecliptic today.” It’s only news if it doesn’t happen, and then, it’s so unusual as to border on the earth-shattering.

  5. Submitted by RB Holbrook on 03/22/2019 - 08:44 am.

    The times we live in are not conducive to subtlety.

  6. Submitted by Edward Blaise on 03/22/2019 - 09:12 am.

    Best summed up by Meghan McCain:

    “I think if I had told my dad, seven months after you’re dead, you’re going to be dominating the news and all over Twitter, he would think it was hilarious that our president was so jealous of him that he was dominating the news cycle in death as well,” she said on ABC’s “The View.”

    “I know this is so bizarre because it’s about my dad and it’s a ‘Hot Topic,’” continued McCain, one of the morning show’s hosts.

    A little silly to go after Hagedorn and Emmer. Another matter completely for Lindsey Graham: his example is one more reason for term limits: keeping their job is more precious than anything in their lives: If you will give up your dignity, foundational beliefs, loyalty, friendship, there is obviously no bounds that you will not cross to stay in office including loyalty to country.

  7. Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 03/22/2019 - 10:30 am.

    It seems that from this vantage point it is those that continue to support the incumbent that should be held in disgrace, from the Senate to the congress to the “base”, they support this type of behavior, It shows a sorry state of America when they have to get their jollies kicking honored war hero dead folks. Curious how many of them would be OK kicking their WWI, WWII, Korean Viet Nam, desert storm etc. veteran relatives in a similar fashion. So next Nov 11, we celebrate Veterans Day by (emulating the present inhabitant) by casting shade on all those that served/suffered/died for our country, and honor those that dodged with bone spurs, right?

  8. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 03/22/2019 - 10:42 am.

    Is it likewise petty and beneath mention to also point out that Javanka and KT use unsecured/foreign private communication devices/aps?

    Isn’t that what “lock her up” was all about with literally years of traction and spouts of apoplectic outrage?

    What level of cynical contempt does it take for the people who benefited from the outrage to be even more outrageous with their actions, especially having stirred the pot in the 2016 election ?

    It ALL needs to be called out, lest it becomes the acceptable norm.

  9. Submitted by Tom Christensen on 03/22/2019 - 01:21 pm.

    As we heard last week in Cohen’s testimony, “Trump doesn’t tell people to do things, he speaks in code.” It least two times I have heard him say, “If his people don’t get their way it could get very bad, very bad”. That is his code that violence is okay with him.

    Trump, whining yesterday, was trying to send another coded message to his followers that the Special Prosecutor process doesn’t make sense because none of the Special Prosecutor team were elected to their positions like he was. I remind the President that the people at FOX, who he gets his directions from, were not elected to anything either so what is his point? The Special Prosecutor is part of the established legal process, but Trump is trying to lead his followers to the conclusion he wants them to go to. Up and down the line the officials, who are part of the Russian Special Prosecutor process, are Republicans. Many, at one time or another have been complimented by Trump saying, “They are fine people.”

  10. Submitted by Paul Yochim on 03/23/2019 - 04:54 pm.

    I find it interesting that the same leftist hippies that were protesting the Vietnam War in the 60’s are now defending a Vietnam veteran, only because it is President Trump attacking him.

    • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 03/23/2019 - 06:15 pm.

      Sorry to bust your bubble dude, some of us are Viet Nam era vets.

    • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 03/23/2019 - 07:35 pm.

      Perhaps these leftist hippies really don’t hate Vietnam veterans but hate that people who actively avoided the war through other means (oh, the pain of walking with bone spurs in the dangerous jungles of VD) who attack the veteran because the veteran din’t roll over and wet their belly like a whipped puppy as so many have done.

      Perhaps it’s the leftist hippies old unwillingness to bend to the will of bully authority.

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