I've never been one to get caught up in the clamor of movie stars and public figures. Nor have I found myself elated with their achievements or languished in sorrow over their mishaps, struggles or demises. This week changed all that.
When I heard that Sen. John McCain had passed away, I got all choked up, and unlike the inevitable future passing of our five-time draft-dodger president, there was plenty to mourn. In the moment after the announcement, I found myself silently reviewing the achievements of his life: Annapolis graduate; Vietnam-era Navy pilot; intrepid, stubborn prisoner of war who endured endless suffering at the hands of an enemy; powerful and conscientious representative of his constituents; bad chooser of vice-presidential candidates; dedicated husband and father; and, in the end, a dignified and gracious loser to the opponent nobody beats.
While President Trump can berate McCain as no hero because he likes "people who weren't captured," our president shrinks in comparative stature. America has lost a true national hero.
Now, I realize that not everyone loved John McCain; he certainly had his opponents and he made his share of bad decisions. Like the rest of Americans, I viewed McCain's public life as imperfect, and I certainly realize that the man was not without his own flaws.
More than a bit brusque at times, he could be a bit of a scrapper and his positions were often in defiance of both opponents and friends. While that might have riled many, I believe history will bear out that McCain was a man guided by a sense of integrity and honor. He was determined to see and act upon the moral issues, and that meant stepping on a few toes. It is easy to see why Trump disliked him, for there is no favorable way for Trump to rationalize their essential differences: McCain had a deep commitment to the truth; Trump is the ultimate lover of the lie. It is Trump's resentment—and, perhaps, jealousy—of McCain's moral backbone that made the two bitter foes.
Irked by both a constituency and a government who held McCain in high regard, our president refused to even give the senator the honor of flying the White House flag at half-staff. That outrageous breach of protocol made even Trump's buddies angry. He relented grudgingly and lowered the flag. Two past presidents were honored at the invitation to eulogize McCain at the funeral. His body lay in state for four days—first in Arizona, and then in the nation's Capitol, according to accepted protocol.
Let's take a leap into the future and see how Trump's own demise will be handled: Throngs of revelers, both young and old, will skip happily in the streets, singing lightheartedly "The Big Bad Wolf is Dead." Women will suddenly abandon the precaution of strategically holding handbags at the meeting of their thighs. Cities across the nation will mark the day, flying the London-built balloons of the diapered Trump sucking his binky.
The Donald will lie in state for a total of four days—first at the Kremlin and then in D.C. No expense will be spared, including the undocumented immigrants hired to do the work that most Americans would find beneath them—standing at the head of the coffin regularly wiping the accumulated sputum from Trump's face. Two past presidents will file past, taking a few extra moments to probe the body with their canes to make sure Trump's really dead. Security personnel will be vigilant in limiting any egregious disrespect—stepping in to stop mourners from urinating and defecating on the body. Despite last-minute pleas for compassionate treatment, Trump's friends and immediate family members will not be released from prison to attend the funeral. Putin himself will deliver the only eulogy at the funeral, hailing Trump as a loyal friend to the Russian Republic, noting, "Comrade Trump will be sorely missed." And, of course, the hired mourners will be paid union scale.
And in reverence of Trump's express wishes, Robert Mueller will be pushed off a bridge into the Potomac. The funeral procession will be turned away from Arlington, where signs will proclaim, "No Vacancy," and Trump will be interred instead in his rightful place—hauled by barge out of New York Harbor, taken 25 miles into the Atlantic and dumped with the rest of the garbage.
Michael S. Robinson Sr. is a former Vietnam-era Army assistant public information officer. He lives with his wife, Carol, and one mongrel dog. Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org