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Respect IS a Moderate Value

The stark differences between leadership styles of the late Senator John McCain and President Donald Trump could not have been more clearly illustrated than after McCain’s death in August, 2018.

Contrast McCain, embodiment of cherished American values like RESPECT, selflessness, honor, and integrity; with Trump, who embodies very different values: desire for celebrity status and wealth, egotism, narcissism, and questionable ethics.

Add Trump’s pettiness, and inability to rise above it, clearly on display when McCain died. The two had been political enemies, but most politicians try to overcome that when their foes pass away. Not Trump.

While McCain was fighting the brain cancer that would kill him, Trump signed a $716 billion defense bill named in McCain’s honor – and didn’t even mention his name.

After McCain died, Trump refused to issue a statement honoring him, as his staff recommended; instead, he tweeted sympathy for his family – but didn’t mention McCain himself or his accomplishments.

Trump also refused, on numerous occasions when asked by reporters, to say ANYTHING about McCain. Finally, after rumored pressure from the American Legion to show respect for their fellow veteran, Trump issued a statement thanking McCain for his service.

American flags at other federal buildings remained at half-staff for several days after McCain’s passing. But Trump’s White House lowered its flag to half-staff for only the obligatory 24-hour protocol when any Congressman dies, then raised it.

Trump was apparently unimpressed that McCain was a war hero. During 5 years of torture in a North Vietnamese prison, McCain refused early release, insisting fellow POWs be released first. Meanwhile, Trump claimed bone spurs (a condition shared by 38% of all people) during the Vietnam War – as a way to AVOID military service.

Only after pressure from the American Legion (again) to honor McCain, Trump ordered the White House flag back to half-staff. Too bad it took several days and repeated pressure from a veterans’ organization to convince Trump to do the right thing.

Most Americans agree if anyone deserves respect, it’s veterans, who risked their lives to serve our country. Yet candidate Trump disrespected McCain (and other POWs) in the 2016 campaign. When an interviewer described McCain as a hero, Trump replied “he was a war hero because he was captured; I like people who weren’t captured”. True to form, McCain ignored criticism of himself, objecting only to Trump’s belittling of other POWs’ sacrifices.

A final contrast: McCain (who admitted he sometimes failed) always tried to do the right thing for his country, honoring his sense of duty. If only our President could embody the same virtue – without being told repeatedly he should.

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