While accepting the National Constitution Center’s Liberty Medal tonight, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) used the opportunity to publicly condemn what America has become under Trump’s leadership.
Sen. McCain calls refusal of "obligations of international leadership" for "spurious nationalism" unpatriotic https://t.co/bx4E93sdnE
— NBC News (@NBCNews) October 17, 2017
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“TO FEAR THE WORLD WE HAVE ORGANIZED AND LED FOR THREE-QUARTERS OF A CENTURY, TO ABANDON THE IDEALS WE HAVE ADVANCED AROUND THE GLOBE, TO REFUSE THE OBLIGATIONS OF INTERNATIONAL LEADERSHIP, AND OUR DUTY TO REMAIN THE LAST BEST HOPE OF EARTH FOR THE SAKE OF SOME HALF-BAKED, SPURIOUS NATIONALISM, COOKED UP BY PEOPLE WHO WOULD RATHER FIND SCAPEGOATS THAN SOLVE PROBLEMS IS AS UNPATRIOTIC AS AN ATTACHMENT TO ANY TIRED DOGMA OF THE PAST THAT AMERICANS CONSIGNED TO THE ASH HEAP OF HISTORY,” MCCAIN SAID TO THUNDEROUS APPLAUSE.
The remark was an articulate and pointed response to the rise of Donald Trump, whose xenophobic nationalism and shameless scapegoating has created a nation very different from that which McCain has witnessed during his time as a public servant.
The Arizona Senator has been a frequent and outspoken critic of the President, culminating into a surprise “no” vote to repeal and replace Obamacare that effectively killed the measure. While Trump has vocally criticized the Arizona Republican for his vote, his constituents – and the majority of Americans – have applauded the Senator for not stripping healthcare from millions of Americans in a continued Republican effort to spitefully whittle away at Obama’s legacy.
McCain’s remarks tonight were especially significant given Trump’s inflammatory and baseless statement this morning. While speaking about the four U.S. soldiers who were killed in Niger last week, Trump claimed that while he has “traditionally” called the families of slain soldiers, past presidents “didn’t make calls.”
Trump just claimed no President has ever called families of fallen troops, insulting thousands of Gold Star Families pic.twitter.com/G3gW160Wfn
— Vets Against Trump (@commondefense) October 16, 2017
“THE TOUGHEST CALLS I HAVE TO MAKE ARE THE CALLS WHERE THIS HAPPENS — SOLDIERS ARE KILLED,” TRUMP SAID. “IT’S A VERY DIFFICULT THING. NOW IT GETS TO A POINT WHERE YOU MAKE FOUR OR FIVE OF THEM IN ONE DAY, IT’S A VERY, VERY TOUGH DAY. FOR ME THAT’S BY FAR THE TOUGHEST. SO THE TRADITIONAL WAY, IF YOU LOOK AT PRESIDENT OBAMA AND OTHER PRESIDENTS, MOST OF THEM DIDN’T MAKE CALLS, A LOT OF THEM DIDN’T MAKE CALLS. I LIKE TO CALL WHEN IT’S APPROPRIATE, WHEN I THINK I’M ABLE TO DO IT.”
Both sides of the aisle quickly condemned the statement, including former Obama administration officials who chimed in in what has become a widely-derided and easily debunked claim by a President with a tenuous grasp of reality and even more tenuous relationship with facts.
This is an outrageous and disrespectful lie even by Trump standards. Also: Obama never attacked a Gold Star family. https://t.co/JgzTUIzWIa
— Ben Rhodes (@brhodes) October 16, 2017
that's a fucking lie. to say president obama (or past presidents) didn't call the family members of soldiers KIA – he's a deranged animal.
— Alyssa Mastromonaco (@AlyssaMastro44) October 16, 2017
Within 15 minutes of making his statement, when Trump was pressed on his claim, he quickly backtracked, claiming instead that he was “told” Obama didn’t call the families of slain soldiers.
“AND A LOT OF PRESIDENTS DON’T, THEY WRITE LETTERS. … I DO A COMBINATION OF BOTH. SOMETIMES, IT’S A VERY DIFFICULT THING TO DO, BUT I DO A COMBINATION OF BOTH. PRESIDENT OBAMA, I THINK, PROBABLY DID SOMETIMES, AND MAYBE SOMETIMES HE DIDN’T, I DON’T KNOW, THAT’S WHAT I WAS TOLD,” TRUMP SAID.
McCain, who joined the Navy in 1958, served his country for 22 years. In 1967, his plane was shot down over Hanoi, Vietnam, where he spent six years in a North Vietnamese prison camp. He could have been released earlier, but “adhered to the P.O.W. code of honor and refused to be repatriated ahead of American prisoners who had been in captivity longer than he.”
Perhaps Trump could take a lesson in what true leadership looks like when he finally manages to log off of Twitter.