The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Monday, September 03, 2018


In a beautifully written postscript on the John McCain funeral, Tim Alberta writes:
It was a sendoff befitting a titan of the republic: the flag-draped coffin, the bagpipes, the angelic chorus, the stained-glass windows and gothic pillared arches encasing a sanctuary of some 3,000 notables bidding a final farewell. But the Saturday morning service for John McCain at Washington National Cathedral also felt like a memorial for Washington herself—a capital city that under President Donald Trump no longer seems capable, as the late senator was, of balancing fights with friendships, of divorcing disagreement from disrespect, of recognizing the basic difference between opponents and enemies.

With organ notes echoing throughout the cavernous complex before the ceremony, they mingled and shook hands and scanned the room for More Important People as they might at any black-tie affair. Former presidents and vice presidents elicited camera clicks. Senators compared notes with ambassadors. Military officials and government wise men and media personalities craned their necks ... The only thing missing from this meeting of official Washington was the chief executive of official Washington.

That the president was not invited speaks most evidently to his tormented relationship with McCain, whom Trump infamously mocked for being captured while flying a combat mission in Vietnam. More fundamentally, however, it reflects Trump’s tormented relationship with a town that purports to revere the very virtues he is accused of lacking: courage, prudence, service, conviction, wisdom, humility, forgiveness, honor—and above all, a patriotism that transcends tribalism.

The president cannot be held solely responsible for the fractured nature of modern American politics. McCain’s idyllic Washington—one defined by ferocious battles waged with a mutual goodwill—has long been on life support. For much of Bill Clinton’s presidency, and accelerating through the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama, the electorate and its representatives were hardened by a combination of class warfare, zero-sum legislating and cultural polarization that invited Trump’s ascent. Having pulled the plug—and smothered the better angels of our nature with a pillow for good measure—the president finds himself at once disinvited from a singular Washington gathering and yet dominating its consciousness.

Indeed, on Saturday, the elephant in the room was the president not in the room.

Though his name was never mentioned, many of the speakers invoked Trump with the subtlety of a sledgehammer.
"Official Washington" is a collection of elite Democrats, Republicans, media types, and deep-state denizens who have for generations played by a specific set of rules. Those rules were designed to keep their power intact and at the same time, allow for the passage of laws and regulations that sometimes provides benefit to the common person, but always provide benefit to Official Washington and its cronies.

Official Washington doesn't like being called a "swamp." They like it even less when average voters hear those word and nod their heads. And it really doesn't like it when those same voters get angry and allow a crass loudmouth to crash Official Washington's party and throw away their rulebook.

John McCain was a war hero who exhibited great bravery and fortitude and then translated that into public service. But he was also a card carrying member of Official Washington. It is in some way kind of sad that far too many eulogies about McCain were used instead as "subtle as a sledgehammer" rebukes of Donald Trump. You would have thought the day would be about McCain.

But official Washington is under attack, and the tip of the spear is Donald Trump. So Official Washington has allowed its mask to slip. Behind a veneer of "courage, prudence, service, conviction, wisdom, humility, forgiveness, honor—and above all, a patriotism that transcends tribalism", we get a quick glimpse of cowardice, recklessness, self-serving words and actions, stupidity, hubris, vengeance, viciousness, and tribalism without regard to the damage it might do to our country.