Last week, in a move that no one thought possible, even amid the onslaught of horrendous comments to emerge from an openly racist, homophobic, misogynist White House, a staffer got caught mocking Senator John McCain’s (R-AZ) stage four glioblastoma.
The comments were made by special assistant Kelly Sadler during a closed-door internal meeting led by deputy press secretary Raj Shah with approximately two dozen communications staffers and came in response to McCain’s opposition of Trump’s nominee to lead the CIA, Gina Haspel.
“It doesn’t matter, he’s dying anyway,” Sadler said, attempting to shamefully minimize McCain’s opposition.
Former President Barack Obama’s photographer, Peter Souza, an outspoken opponent of the Trump administration and troll-via-photo-extraordinaire, took to Instagram today to offer the foil to the current administration’s vile approach to diplomacy.
“They competed against one another during the 2008 Presidential election. And yet they respected each other. As politicians. And as human beings. President Obama would certainly never have tolerated a deplorable comment against John McCain by a commissioned officer on his staff,” Souza wrote.
Not that casually lobbing insults at a man on his deathbed because he doesn’t agree with a disgraceful and unqualified CIA nominee is ever justified, but Obama managed to sustain a mutually respectful relationship with McCain despite having battled him for the presidency. Meanwhile, Trump can’t sustain a relationship with the Arizona Republican despite the fact that they are in the same party, working – theoretically – toward the same goals.
Souza was not the only one to criticize the White House for the abhorrent comment and its refusal to issue an apology. John McCain’s family also spoke out in no uncertain terms.
Meghan McCain on Kelly Sadler’s comments about her father: "I don't understand what kind of environment you're working in when that would be acceptable and then you could come to work the next day and still have a job." (via ABC) pic.twitter.com/WpiMGPlYUw
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) May 11, 2018
While Ms. McCain might not understand what kind of “environment” would accept this kind of behavior, it is the very same White House that protects similar – if not worse – behavior from a president who has insulted disabled people, attacked Muslims, sowed distrust in the media, and bragged about sexually assaulting women. Sadler’s comments are reprehensible, but par for the course in this administration.
Meghan McCain’s comments came on the heels of a tweet by McCain’s wife, Cindy.
@kellysadler45 May I remind you my husband has a family, 7 children and 5 grandchildren.
— Cindy McCain (@cindymccain) May 10, 2018
Mrs. McCain’s comments respectfully – which is more than can be said for Sadler – suggest that the Trump aide’s disgusting comments affect a family currently mourning the impending death of their patriarch. They also suggest that while John McCain may not survive much longer, a long line of McCains will– and they will certainly remember Sadler’s vile words.
The White House, for its part, did not deny the remarks, opting only to redirect the conversation.
“We respect Senator McCain’s service to our nation and he and his family are in our prayers during this difficult time,” the White House said in a statement to The Hill.
There was also reportedly “discomfort” in the room after the comment as the joke apparently “fell flat,” and it was never addressed afterward.
McCain has been a frequent target of the president, who infamously said that McCain is “not a war hero” and claimed that he likes people “who weren’t captured.”
McCain, for his part, has refused to back down, even as his family prepares for his funeral. In recently released excerpts from his book, due out this month, McCain took aim at the president for his positions on immigration and the media, as well as an admission that he was the person who passed the “Steele dossier” along to the FBI, a move that has plagued Trump since the onset of his presidency.
While the White House continues to comport itself in the most shameful way possible, its refusal to own up to even the most humiliating and unjustifiable mistakes is a commentary on how a strong man mentality is a losing formula in the United States.