GOP makes show of defending McCain while Trump keeps smearing veterans


Republicans are making a show of criticizing the Trump aide who attacked John McCain. But the GOP is nowhere to be found when Trump denigrates the military and veterans.

Republicans are making a big public show of criticizing a White House aide for insulting John McCain's health. But in reality, they aren't doing anything about it — and have given Trump a pass on denigrating the armed services throughout his time in office.

White House special assistant Kelly Sadler said that McCain's opposition to Gina Haspel's nomination to run the CIA didn't matter because "he's dying anyway."

Since then, the callous comment made about McCain, who is suffering from brain cancer, has been widely condemned.


Former Vice President Joe Biden said the comment showed that "decency" at the White House had hit "rock bottom."

Republicans have jumped to "defend" McCain too, but they have been far more tepid on the Trump White House and its inaction on Sadler's attack.

GOP senators have not called for Sadler's firing or for Trump to account for how his top-level staff members are behaving.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell praised McCain on Twitter and on the Senate floor, asserting that he is a "hero," but stopped short of calling out to Sadler or the Trump administration.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) merely asked for "an apology" from "the person who said that really dumb thing." Sen. John Thune referred to "an unfortunate circumstance," while Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) said, "despite any differences [McCain] should be treated with respect."

Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) said the comment was "a bad decision," while Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) said, "If it hurt his feelings they ought to apologize."

Even in defense of one of their own allies, Republicans have let the Trump White House off the hook. Instead, Trump and his acolytes have been far more concerned that details of the internal meeting leaked than they have been about a crude attack on a veteran and senator.

Trump has made attacks on military service and veterans a hallmark of his time in the political arena. His first such salvo was his statement that McCain wasn't a hero despite his years in a Vietnamese prison camp because "I like people who weren't captured." Republicans rewarded him with their party nomination not long after.

Since then, Trump has presided over botched military operations in Niger and Yemen — that have not prompted Benghazi-style hearings from congressional Republicans, despite the loss of multiple lives.

Republicans seemed to have no problem when Trump pushed to cut assistance to veterans, allowed payday lenders to target veterans, and as he continues to advocate for privatizing veterans' care.

When Trump joked with his phone friend Sean Hannity while fallen soldiers were honored on a military base, there was no outcry from the Republican Party. And no one said anything when Trump attacked three war heroes at the recent NRA convention.

As has often been the case, Republicans will make public grumblings about the current administration, but real opposition never comes. In a normal situation, a comment like Sadler's would have ended a political career.

Republican objections to the Trump team's gutter-dwelling attack on McCain's is part of a show — a lot of harrumphing while doing nothing, and continuing to prop up a presidency that openly wears its contempt for the military on its shoulder.