Three Funerals…And Some Precedence for Presidents

August 31st 2018mcains final salute

They buried John McCain and Aretha Franklin today. Both had Presidents in attendance (Bill Clinton at Franklin’s and he and all the other retired Presidents at McCain’s) and both were free of Trumps. Both ceremonies were on the telly in the background and I didn’t pay deep attention. I don’t intend to eulogise either of them here, not out of disrespect, but simply because I have nothing to add that hasn’t been said thousands of times over the past week. I’ll simply note that 250 years from now, should we survive, every historian will know who McCain was, and every music lover will know who Franklin was.

I don’t mean to sound churlish—McCain had hundreds of very important people who said very important things about him, but I can’t help but think that the praises heaped on him, and the expositions of his importance to the country, were a bit more effusive and ebullient then they actually needed to be. It’s almost as if they were rubbing it in, somehow.

Well, the headline over a David Smith article at the Guardian let the cat out of the bag: Trump sits alone ‘sulking’ as Washington pays its respects to John McCain.

Ah, poor widdle Donnie needs his nappie changed! His behavior towards McCain has always been churlish—really churlish, and not just me trying to avoid sounding that way. Trump is a man whose soul resides where the sewer rats won’t go, but he hit new personal lows in his response to McCain’s death this week. That stunt of ordering the flags back to full mast the day after McCain died…

One of the Weasels noted that McCain’s family missed a bet. They should have invited Justin Trudeau.

Vice President Pence, who always looks like Leslie Nielsen with severe constipation, spoke at the McCain ceremony, and I believe he was the only one who uttered the words “President Trump.” The pained, sullen silence that greeted his invocation of the Glorious Leader must have seemed very strange to him: he’s used to watching cabinet members cheer, stomp and hoot every time Trump’s name is mentioned. Maybe he went home afterward, dropped to his knees, and said, “Jesus, you gots some ‘splaining to do…”

Aretha’s funeral was a happier, more boisterous affair. The eulogies were cheery, heartfelt, loving and often funny. But the most amazing tribute was one played by a small and rather unremarkable marching band some five time zones east. The Buckingham Palace Guard, in their traditional Changing of the Guard ceremony, played “R-E-S-P-E-C-T.” It was unthinkable, and couldn’t have been done without the Queen’s knowledge and consent.

At McCain’s funeral, people showed respect. At Franklin’s, they sang it.

Trump knew of Franklin’s death, of course, tweeting that she had worked for him on several occasions. Even by Trump standards, it was a weird response. Imagine Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry tweeting, “Stephen Hawking? Oh, I had him on my show once!”

I’m not sure Trump actually knew who Franklin was, though. Otherwise he might have tweeted something like “Imagine how great quality a singer if she had been white!” Yes, I know some of you are wincing, but admit it: you could see Trump coming up with something like that. Nobody else. Just Trump.

Glioblastoma, one of the most loathsome forms of cancer around, caused McCain’s death, and played a role in his funeral. His death came nine years to the day after Ted Kennedy died of the same disease, and one of the eulogies was delivered by Vice President Joe Biden, whose son Beau died of the disease at age 46.

The funerals are over now, and Trump can stop pretending he’s concentrating on his golf game and continue preparing for the burial of his presidency. It’s Friday, and the Office of the Special Counsel (note spelling, Donny!) often has new announcement and new indictments on a Friday. There’s an unofficial courtesy in Washington that legal attacks on a campaign should not occur after Labor Day, but of course, Trump himself isn’t running for office this year.

So now he can have the flag put back up to full staff, and hopefully, as he does so, he can study the flag and learn which colors go where in case he ever has to crayon another flag. (Hint, Donnie: none of the stripes are blue. Not on the American flag, anyway. Your flag probably does have a blue stripe.)

So Trump can stop worrying about those greedy, selfish people who keep upstaging him by dying. Hopefully there won’t be any others for a while.

In the meantime, Trump can draw solace in the knowledge that his own funeral is one of the most highly-anticipated events of the century.

The downside: it will be the lightest attended.

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