During Trump's visit to Japan, the Navy had to hide all traces of John McCain's name from Trump.
In a development as surreal as it is petty, the Wall Street Journal has learned that when Trump visited Japan last week he had to have John McCain's name hidden from him.
In advance of Trump's state visit to Japan, an official from the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command reached out to Navy and Air Force officials with an unusual demand: "USS John McCain needs to be out of sight."
Trump, it is well-known, loathes McCain. He was unhappy McCain didn't vote to kill Obamacare, and he famously said of McCain during the 2016 election: "I like people who weren't captured."
A full seven months after McCain died, Trump was still hijacking meetings with government officials to complain about how McCain didn't thank him for letting him have a funeral.
The USS John McCain — named after John McCain, his father and his grandfather — is part of the Seventh Fleet and based in Yokosuka, Japan. It's undergoing repairs because of a 2017 collision and therefore couldn't be easily moved. But Trump was scheduled to speak on the USS Wasp, located nearby — so they had to hide the ship.
And it wasn't just low-level functionaries who had to do the dirty work to shield Trump's eyes from McCain's name. Trump's feelings about McCain are both so delicate and so vitriolic that even Acting Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan had to be involved, and approved measures to ensure Trump wouldn't see the name of the ship.
Of course, it's no easy feat to hide a ship that is over 500 feet long and carries a crew of over 300. So the Navy hung a tarp over the name ahead of the trip, and then when the tarp was removed, the Navy moved a barge closer to the McCain so that the name of the ship couldn't be seen.
It wasn't just the name that was disappeared. Sailors were told to remove any coverings from the ship that had the name, and then they were told to remove themselves. Yes, because the sailors on the ship usually wear caps with the ship's name on it, they were all given the day off so that there was no risk Trump would be offended by seeing McCain's name.
Back home in America, Trump went on Twitter to throw his own people under the bus, insisting, "I was not informed about anything having to do with the Navy Ship USS John S. McCain during my recent visit to Japan."
Trump may not realize that, if this was all done behind his back, that doesn't make him look any better. Instead, it paints a picture of senior government officials so worried about how a mercurial and childish man might behave that they go all the way up to the secretary of defense to make sure Trump won't be offended by a dead senator's name.
This would all be funny if it wasn't so terrible.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.